Inside Politics: 2006 vote
With a country at war in Iraq and increasingly hostile economic times at home, the political fervor over this nation's top issues will be on voters' minds Nov. 7. Twenty veterinarians serve in the political ring, where public sentiment drags — only 29 percent of Americans say Congress is doing a good job (August, Associated Press-Ipsos poll). During this election, 16 DVMs are running for office or trying hold onto their spots in state and federal campaigns. Political analysts say 2006 will be marked with a "throw the bums out" sentiment, but the American Veterinary Medical Association wants the public to vote the vets in.
Sonny Perdue (Republican) Georgia Governor
Running for his second-term as Georgia governor, Sonny Perdue, DVM, announced he would eliminate state income tax for seniors.It's a bold campaign promise that he says will add another $142 million to his tax relief plan, which already has tallied up to $2 billion since 2003, his campaign reports.
If he wins, it is on politics' most beloved platform — improving education, the economy, safety and reforming government.
And if you apply it to veterinary education, all accounts are Perdue remains supportive, recently pledging to Georgia Veterinary Medical Association (GVMA) leaders to support full funding for the veterinary college before he leaves office, reports Janice Hayes, executive director of the GVMA.
Last month, GVMA leaders Drs. Michael Yonker, Ed Mahaffey and state veterinarian Dr. Lee Myers met with Perdue to discuss veterinary medicine's key issues and pledge support to his campaign.
"He's been very good for veterinary medicine. It does benefit us to have a veterinarian in office. He is aware of the issues we have, and he took the time to listen," Hayes adds.
Will he win? Hayes stopped short of guessing. "He is a strong presence. And there has been a growing Republican movement in this state."
Cap Dierks (non-partisan) Nebraska Senator (unicameral legislature)
Cap Dierks has always had a passion for two things: veterinary medicine and politics. So after running a successful clinic for 10 years, he decided to pursue his other interest. It began with serving on the local school board for 15 years, the hospital board for nine years and one year as president of the Nebraska Veterinary Medical Association. He then turned to the unicameral, nonpartisan Nebraska Senate, which he served in from 1987 to 2002. Dierks plans to once again serve in the state legislature, after losing his seat to a competitor following a redistricting. "Anybody who has the propensity to serve people should serve in public office," Dierks says.
Born in 1932 in O'Neill, Neb., Dierks calls the state home, having spent his entire life there, with the exception of his time serving in the U.S. Air Force ('55-'56) and while attending college at Kansas State University in Manhattan ('57-'61), where he received his doctorate in veterinary medicine. Dierks is married with four children.
Dierks, along with a fellow veterinarian, started his own practice in 1973, where he mainly treated beef cattle, while maintaining a sizable small animal practice. "There was a certain comfort zone," he says. "I was doing what I wanted to do and needed to do. The most difficult part was having to euthanize people's pets when their lives were about over." He remained with the practice until his retirement in 1992, so he could focus on his position as chairman of agriculture in the legislation. "I wasn't able to uphold my end of the deal."
By keeping his license active, running a beef cattle ranch, and inspecting one of the livestock markets, Dierks has maintained his connection with veterinary medicine since retirement.
He now hopes to make an impact on state politics by concentrating on real estate and property taxes, education and finances for local schools and natural resources and the advantages of wind and sun energy.