Featured speakers at the Jackson GOP Candidate Forum on May 6th will be 1st District Congressional candidates Will Johnson, Mike LaCoste and Ben Lange, plus State Senate candidate Andrew Naeve and County Supervisor candidate Jack Willey. The Thursday evening event will start with a buffet dinner from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the Clinton Engines Museum Program Center, 605 E. Maple St., in Maquoketa. The Candidate Forum begins at 7 p.m., followed by a question and answer period.
Johnson grew up in Dubuque, where he attended Senior High School and Loras College. In 2001 he joined the Navy, attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA, and served as a CTI (Hebrew linguist) until 2005. He enrolled at Loras College in 2006 and majored in International Studies. In early 2008 he traveled to China, where he studied written and spoken Chinese for more than a year.
He is an avid Tae Kwon Do practitioner and instructor, and is also a musician.
LaCoste was raised on a northeast Iowa farm and worked at John Deere in Waterloo for 36 years before retiring from his job as a Quality Inspector. He attended the University of Northern Iowa and Hawkeye Community College in Cedar Falls, as well as several John Deere educational programs. He has coached in the Waterloo area for 13 years.
He and his wife, Peggy, have been married for 33 years and have two grown sons, Sean and Shane.
Lange grew up in Quasqueton, the son of a meat plant worker. He earned his B.A. in political science from Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX and earned his law degree from Hamline University Law School in St. Paul, MN. While attending Hamline, he was a policy advisor to U.S. Congressman John Kline, a Minnesota conservative.
He and his wife, Kelly, have two toddler daughters—Addison and Emelia. He owns a small business in Independence.
Naeve, 25, is a sixth generation family farmer and business owner from the Andover area. He graduated from East Central High School in 2003, where he now serves as an elected school board member and as Varsity Boys Basketball Coach. He graduated from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY in 2007 with a degree in farm business management and finance.
Naeve is engaged to Kristin Conway; they will be married in August.
Supervisor Jack Willey of Maquoketa has been a Jackson County Supervisor for 20 years. Willey is a member of several boards and committees, including the State Committee on Mental Health, the County Case Management Advisory Board, and the Empowerment Board.
He and his wife, Marilyn, own Jack and Associates in downtown Maquoketa. They have three children and nine grandchildren.
Tickets are available at the door for the event—cost is $10 for adults, with family members under 18 admitted free (admission to museum is separate).