New progressives start conversation on relationship between citizens, government


Protestors hold signs that read, “I stand with Planned Parenthood,” and “Love, Respect, Equality,” during the Women’s March in Des Moines on Saturday. Signs and speakers highlighted a variety of issues including LGBTQ+ rights, women’s healthcare and President Trump’s cabinet choices.

Talon Delaney

Concerned students voiced their worries Sunday at the Maintenance Shop, hoping to find some serious answers.

Ames4Change, a newly-formed progressive student group, invited local political figures and activists to share with students ideas about the relationship between citizens and government in modern democracy.

Guests included Matthew Goodman from the Ames Progressive Alliance, state Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, Sen. Herman Quirmbach and Erin Davison-Rippey, a public affairs director for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.

Mental health, worker rights and reproduction politics also were discussed at the forum, and the panelists were eager to answer questions in a radically-changing political landscape.

“There’s a lot of confusion about politics,” said Sarah Ashby, political science student and founder of Ames4Change. “A lot of us feel politically motivated but clueless.”

She hopes her group will get young people active in government affairs.

New policies pushed for by the Trump administration were cause for worry at the forum, particularly the executive order to halt federal funding to Planned Parenthood, which consistently sees women from all 99 Iowa counties each year.

“We have a health care crisis in our state unlike anything we have ever seen,” Davison-Rippey said.

She said the United States will see a rise in unintended pregnancies and abortions without programs like Planned Parenthood. Much of the audience voiced concern about the weight an individual carries in the political sphere. Many citizens may not know how to make their voices heard.

Goodman said voting is a great way to do just that, and informed voting, especially at the local level, can help change people’s immediate community.

“The difference in an Ames City Council election can be 120 votes,” Goodman said. “Your vote carries more weight when you vote locally.”

Wessel-Kroeschell encouraged audience members to share their stories and concerns with state representatives.

“Those stories are really important to me,” she said.

She also said that statements from citizens can provoke change on the Senate floor.

The panelists called for students to bring their concerns to legislators and to make their opinions heard.

“Make them feel the heat if you can’t make them see the light,” Quirmbach said.

Lending support to representatives and legislators who already align with someone’s principles also is important.

“They need to know we have their back,” Ashby said. “We need to work together, and the biggest thing is to be kind.”

This was the second event hosted by Ames4Change, which plans to offer a variety of political-themed community events in the future.

More information about Ames4Change can be found on its Facebook page at