A well-known Bellevue man and county leader, as well as a well-known Bellevue couple will be inducted into the Jackson County Democrat Hall of Fame this fall.
Sheriff Russ Kettmann, who has served the people of the county for 22 years; along with Jim and Lynn Wacker local Democratic Party activists, will be inducted at a special dinner on Sunday, September 16 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.
The annual Democratic party fundraising event, which is open to the public, will take place at the Bellevue State Park lodge overlooking the Mississippi River. Ribeye steaks are on the menu.
Kettmann will be celebrated for his time as an elected official. The Wackers will be honored for their service to the party.
Russ Kettmann is a 1974 graduate of Marquette High School in Bellevue. He graduated from the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy in 1987 and was elected as Jackson County Sheriff on the Democratic ticket in 1996.
Kettmann succeeded Bob Lyons, another Democrat, who was Sheriff from 1969 to 1996.
“I have been a life-long Democrat. My parents were Democrats and that was the main reason I became a Democrat,” said Kettmann. “I have attended several events throughout the years, including the Democratic Caucus every four years, and have never missed an opportunity to exercise my right to vote.”
Kettmann served with the Bellevue Police Department in the 1980s prior to being hired on as a County Deputy.
“When a deputy position became available with the Jackson County Sheriff's Office, I applied and was one of two applicants to get an interview,” recalled Kettmann. “The other applicant was a certified officer from another county and was more qualified for the position. However, I was selected for the deputy position, and feel that was because I was a local resident with a family, and they took all that into consideration. In short, I was very fortunate.”
Kettmann said there are a lot of positive things about serving as Jackson County Sheriff.
“Meeting a lot of nice people, helping them find a resolution for problems that they have, working with the youth in a positive manner, and enjoying the day to day things that happen in Jackson County - there is always something new and different each day,” said Kettmann. “This job is never boring.”
Kettmann received the Certificate of Valor from the Maquoketa Police Department in 2000. He is also active in many community organizations including the Bellevue Community Club, Bellevue Knights of Columbus, Bellevue Golf Club and Maquoketa Eagle's Club.
In addition, Kettmann is a mentor for grade school children in Andrew, is an active member of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Bellevue and attends Christian Experience Weekends through the church (CEW).
“I feel very humbled and honored for being inducted into the Hall of Fame. I feel there are a lot of other people who could have been inducted before me,” said Kettmann. “I will definitely try to be a good example for the Democratic Party for years to come.”
“The only other thing I would like to add is a quote that my father Milt instilled in our family ‘Treat others as you would want to be treated,’” added Kettmann.
He and his wife, Dianne have been married for 41 years and have three children, Corey, Ryan and Angie, along with nine grandchildren.
Jim and Lynn Wacker of Bellevue have been active in the Democratic Party for well over 40 years.
Jim was born and raised in rural Bellevue on a Century Farm, attending country school while young and then graduating from Bellevue High School. He served four years in the United State Air Force during the Vietnam era, then went on to work for Interstate Power Company for 42 years.
“Both of his parents were veterans of World War II, so he was raised with an emphasis on serving others,” said wife Lynn, who described her own younger years as engaged with different viewpoints, while growing up with six siblings in nearby Dubuque.
“My father instilled a love of political discussion in me around the dinner table while growing up,” said Lynn. “He played the devil’s advocate and we learned at an early age to defend our views.”
Lynn said she grew up in a large and loving family, including her grandparents, who were also a part of the household for a time.
“It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized how difficult it must have been for my parents to stretch one income and an already crowded house to two more people,” she recalled. “That is just one example of my family’s ethic of service to others.”
In their adult years, the Wackers built their home together. Lynn stayed home in the early years working on the house, helping Jim on the farm and taking care of their son Nate. She later worked for the Bellevue Community School District, while volunteering for several organizations.
“I’ve been involved in Democratic political discussions all of my life and became a registered Democrat when I turned 18,” said Lynn. “When Jim and I were married and had Nathan, we got involved in the ‘Beyond War’ movement to try to make this world safe from nuclear weapons. Jim also switch from an Independent to a Democrat in about 1982.”
While the couple has slowed down a bit in recent years, they still ‘feed the masses’ at the local Democratic office on election day and plan on continuing that service this November.
“The most positive thing about being involved in local politics is the friends we’ve made over the years. It’s also pretty incredible to think about some of the people we have met and had discussions with – people like Barack and Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, Dick Gephardt, Jessie Jackson and Tom Vilsack,” said Lynn. “One of the lessons we’ve learned is that all politics is truly local. People vote for candidates who they think will make their lives better. It’s too bad that we don’t seem to try to find a consensus anymore – politics seems to be coming more tribal.”
“We do, however, feel this is a great honor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. We are joining a very distinguished group of people from Jackson County,” she concluded. “We want everyone to remember that we are all trying to be patriots. We just have to find common ground to move our country forward, not backwards.”
Democratic Hall of Fame Induction
What: Jackson County Democratic Hall of Fame ceremony, fund-raiser
When: 4:30-7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16
Where: Bellevue State Park Lodge
Who: Open to the public
Honorees: Sheriff Russ Kettmann; and Lynn and Jim Wacker
Cost: $35 a person, includes ribeye supper
Tickets: Available at Osterhaus Pharmacy