Driftless Stories -

Electing for Change



How can I change the world?

How many of us have ever pondered that question, only to become paralyzed by the next question that (almost) inevitably follows: Can I really change the world?

Mahatma Gandhi – he of the world-changing peaceful protest – most certainly thought so.

“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing,” Gandhi once said, “would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.”

There are countless ways to effect positive change, of course – and you don’t have to be Gandhi to do them! Organizing a neighborhood get-together, for example, or donating your time to your favorite non-profit, or, just maybe – running for political office, be it on the local or state level. With the first Tuesday in November just around the corner, the timing seemed right to ask five of the Driftless Region’s own residents why they choose politics as a way to change their communities (for the better!).

Those residents include two former Iowa House members – John Beard, now a Winneshiek County supervisor, and Chuck Gipp, currently Iowa DNR director – and two longtime activists mounting their first political careers, Kurt Friese, an Iowa City restaurateur and writer, and Alicia Leinberger, a Viroqua, Wisconsin, green-energy advocate. We also spoke with Sarah Schroeder, mayor of Spring Grove, Minnesota, who will seek reelection for her seat this November.

While all five took very different paths to the political arena, they share the same can-do philosophy. “If you want to something to change, you can’t be afraid to get out and do it yourself, at whatever level is appropriate,” Friese aptly puts it. “Don’t count on someone else to do it.”

In other words, as Gandhi also once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

It’s a message these four leaders have clearly taken to heart. Read each of their stories below to learn more!

Sarah Schroeder

Alicia Leinberger

Chuck Gipp

John Beard

Bio: Sara Friedl-Putnam wishes to thank all the good people in the Driftless Region whose desire to make their communities better places to live, work, and play has inspired them to run for elected office.


Inspire(d)’s Aryn Henning Nichols encourages you to vote, friends! Read her note here!

P.S. Inspire(d) doesn’t endorse specific candidates, but we do endorse getting involved like these folks do and have done! XOX -Aryn