Life Over Politics in Columbus Junction
Iowa Presidential Politics.com
"Gray Davis, Gray Davis," Eustogio Giovera passionately
repeats as a reporter presses him about the upcoming Iowa presidential
caucus, on a fall day not long before the California recall election.
Giovera, who speaks little English, moved to Columbus
seven years ago after falling in love with the small packing town
while on vacation. After 22 years at a bakery in Brooklyn, NY,
it was time for him to move on. The growing Hispanic population
to be his own boss made
the decision to move to Iowa an easy one.
As he rolls another panache
under the watchful eye of the Mother Mary, looking down from a brightly colored
wall hanging, Gioevera says, “I happy 'cuz, you know this is
business, and I work for myself. I ain’t working for nobody.”
His priorities do not include politics.
“No, I only work and don’t bother with
that, more important to do work," he says. "A lot of time 6 in the morning to
at night every day seven days a week. I have no time for nothing, no time to
at the ladies.”
Giovera switches from lemon to blueberry and continues
A few doors down, Don Orr is happy that his new home has only three stairs, a
step up from his old apartment above Orr Electric, which had 23 stairs. Orr,
mayor of Columbus Junction, still considers himself a Democrat and attends the
caucus at the local and county level.
However, Orr is more concerned with running
his ever-adapting retail business and enjoying life than thinking about politics.
Over the grinding of the key machine, he admits he doesn’t
follow politics like he used to.
“No, not really, haven’t sat down
and thought about it," he says. "I suppose Gephardt would get my vote if it were
“Everybody makes promises on health care,
expenses keep going up," says his wife, Bonnie Orr. "Don just got a full knee
has been quite expensive. Don informs me that the caucus is held at the high
only 15 or 20 people participate. For a town of over 1,600 that seems
small, but Don assures me that’s all that come.”
Across the street, 23-year-old Lionel Perera unloads a truck in front of the
Reyna Mexican grocery store and restaurant where he works.
I care, but
I don’t know anything about that," he says. "I’ve never
here, and I don’t find any information about it around here.”
says he has heard of Howard Dean, but knows nothing about him or the upcoming
Iowa caucus. Perera moved to Iowa from Cabeche, Mexico, and loves everything
about living in Iowa. Around town, more signs are posted
Spanish than English, but nothing in either language promotes the upcoming
Down the road, 28-year-old Mark Sulentich laments that “workers pay a shitload
of taxes. Work more, pay more. It gets me annoyed.”
He is cleaning up
job he just completed for his budding construction business, only hours after
spending the night building trusses at his third-shift job 17 miles
away in Washington, Iowa. Sulentich, a lifelong Republican, says he is
unaware of the Iowa caucus process and feels that working hard
is his only
chance to succeed.
“There’s not much to pick from," he says. "I don’t
pay a lot of attention to who is going to get paid to sit on their ass and
As the caucus date approaches in Columbus Junction and throughout the
state, Eustogio Giovera, Mark Sulentich and Lionel Perera will
continue to work, Don Orr will attend to his store, and Bonnie Orr will be
readying tuxedos for all the quinceanera celebrations coming
Mike Brunette at [email protected].