Seven Questions for Veterans Caucus Vice Chair Candidate James Marren
by Jason Frerichs
PVI: Tell us a bit about your background. How did you get involved with political and social justice movements?
- I grew up in Minnesota as a member of the Democratic Farm Labor (DFL) party; one of the original progressive Democratic parties. Progressive politics is in my blood – my Senator was Paul Wellstone, whose death was a tragic loss to the party, but whose flame has not been extinguished
- I got involved in the Iowa caucus-to-convention process beginning in 2000 while supporting the Bill Bradley campaign; much of time participating in Rules Committee activities
- I participated in veteran’s activities in support of John Kerry’s 2004 bid for the presidency
- I supported Dennis Kucinich in both his bids for president. Interesting note: Dennis and Paul Wellstone were the founders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
- I represented Iowa as Rules Committee Member at the 2016 Democratic National Convention
- I am a founding board member of the Veteran National Recovery Center (VNRC).
- I provided logistical support for Ako Abdul-Samad during his 2006 and 2008 campaigns for the Iowa House
- I am a member of the following organizations:
- IA Veterans Caucus
- Veterans National Recovery Center (VNRC)
- Democrats for America (DFA)
- Iowa Black Caucus; maintain a Facebook page (Supporters, Friends & Allies of IA Black Issues) in support of the IA Black Caucus
- Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI)
- Progress Iowa
PVI: What is your military background?
- United States Army
- Combat medic in Viet Nam
- OR Tech in an Evac hospital in Japan
- OR Tech in Bremerhaven GR field hospital
PVI: Why are you running for Vice Chair?
- To be more involved in providing a bigger voice on issues impacting our veterans
- People know me; members of the Central Committee know me from many years shepherding the caucus-to-convention process
- To provide a voice for veterans that was not there when I became a veteran
PVI: What issues are most important to you?
- I don’t know who said this (or something very like it) but it rings true: “If you want to know how a country values its people look at how it treats its veterans.”
- You served your country you earned your benefits; the benefits that Donald Trump and others are trying to cut
- Veterans earned their benefits regardless of their sex, color, beliefs, or sexual preference
- As a founding member of the VNRC (which is taking over the VA hospital in Hot Springs ND for burn regeneration, PTSD and TBI treatment) increased support for PTSD and TBI treatments is a primary interest
PVI: What type of impact are you hoping to have as a member of the State Central Committee?
- People know me and I can help build consensus through the contacts I already have on the Central Committee
- To be that voice for veterans that wasn’t there and wasn’t heard when I became a veteran
PVI: What should the Iowa Democratic Party be doing that it isn’t currently doing?
- Develop a base of non-elected experts who routinely speak out against the opposition party
- Develop and promote non-elected experts who help constituents solve problems because they care, not because they are running for re-election
PVI: Who is the better dancer? Chris Laursen or James Marren?
- I think a dance-off may be needed and we’ll let the people decide