Fairfield Ledger

Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 28, 2016

Sandquist all about teamwork

By NICOLE HESTER-WILLIAMS Ledger staff writer | Oct 11, 2016

Jefferson County Supervisor Republican candidate Dee Sandquist said as a rural resident and family farmer, she knows first hand what’s important to Jefferson County residents — and if she’s elected, she plans to work with them to build a shared vision that preserves agricultural heritage, entrepreneurial spirit and encourages economic growth.

“Teamwork is what I’m about,” Sandquist said.

“Jefferson County residents want to take care of our roads, they want a balanced budget, workforce development and to keep people in our community. How do we do that?” she asked, adding that she wants to help figure out a plan to accomplish those goals.

Born and raised on the Johnson Family Farm in Jefferson County, Sandquist graduated from Fairfield High School in 1971. She went on to double major at Iowa State University, where she received bachelor degrees in both food science and human nutrition and institution management. She later earned a master’s degree from ISU in hotel, restaurant and institution management.

“I moved for a job,” Sandquist said of why she left Jefferson County. “It was hard; however, I am flexible, and because of that I gained a lot of relevant experience that will help me in the supervisor role.”

Sandquist said one of her goals is to help keep people in Jefferson County.

Sandquist said she always worked fulltime while she and her husband raised their three children.

“I understand the challenges of how to become organized,” she said, with a chuckle.

During the first 10 years of her career, she worked as a consultant, after which she worked for the state of Iowa as a health facilities inspector.

“It was interesting,” she said of the facilities inspector role. “I like to help people do things better.”

Sandquist spent the majority of her career managing and leading others in nonprofit hospitals. However, she has also been a contributing writer for several books about nutrition and institutional management, and she was a national spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics — the largest organization of food and nutrition professionals in the United States.

“I was a regional spokeswoman, but I did interviews nationally and did specialty areas,” Sandquist said. “In Portland, Oregon, I did more television and radio and a lot of print — mostly print.”

She said she was proud of her spokeswoman role, since there are only 25 to 30 individuals doing it throughout the entire organization.

Sandquist held the role for nine years, and she continued working remotely while living in Jefferson County before finally giving it up three years ago.

“I have a lot of diverse experience,” she said.

Just before she moved back, Sandquist was the director of nutrition, diabetes, weight management and wound care in a 420-bed medical center in Vancouver, Washington.

In 2008, Sandquist began working at Hy-Vee Food & Drug Store in Fairfield as a registered dietician.

“My brother, Doug, passed away in 2007. In 2008 my dad, [Don Johnson] passed away and  I moved back here to help my aging mother [Doris] manage the farm,” she said. “Parts of that farm had been in my family since 1886. I have a strong desire to help care for the land, air and water — I’m fifth-generation in Jefferson County on my father’s side and fourth generation on my mother’s side.”

Sandquist’s mother passed away last year.

“Family has always been important to me,” she said. “It was really wonderful to experience the last few years of her life. It gave me a good perspective on aging parents.”

Sandquist said her parents have inspired her the most in life.

“They were able to instill the values of family and faith and caring about people in the community,” she said, adding that she still holds those values today.

Sandquist said another big reason she’s running for Jefferson County Board of Supervisors is to be able to help others.

“I want to listen to them,” she said. “What I’ve been hearing from the public is that they want to have more opportunities to provide input. Unless it’s a controversial issue, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of public comments during the meetings. Some people might not be able to attend a 9 a.m. Monday meeting. How can we get their comments in other ways? I would like to explore those other ways.”

Sandquist said one of the things that separates her from other candidates, is that she is a rural resident with an agricultural background who is a family farmer.

“We have a midsize farm, and we practice no till to preserved the land. We rotate corn, soybeans and oats. We have cows and calves and hogs that are raised in hoop buildings, which means they can go outside if they want to; we sell to Niman Ranch,” she said, adding that they are also experimenting with non-genetically modified and genetically modified corn.

Sandquist said she is grateful and thankful to see community support for her campaign.

“I’m just a person who cares and wants to make a difference,” she said.

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