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The Live Wire

The Student News Site of Liberty High School

The Live Wire

From the Capitol to home: politician parents

Jilly Nielsen, 12, reflects on having a parent in the public eye.
The Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines seats the Iowa General Assembly.
Jilly Nielsen
The Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines seats the Iowa General Assembly.

Old, scandalous, greedy, male: these adjectives usually arise when discussing politicians. However, for Jilly Nielsen, 12, one word comes to mind: Mom.
Amy Nielsen is currently serving as a state representative for District 85, which includes North Liberty.
“[My mom] was a stay-at-home mom until I was in third grade. She was really involved with the PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) and stuff, and then she started getting interested [in politics]. When the [North Liberty] mayor passed away in 2014, and she was, I think, like, ‘this is it for me,’” said Jilly.
As Amy Nielsen began her political run as the first female mayor of North Liberty, Jilly Nielsen, at the age of 11, was immersed in the political world.
“I helped campaign for Hillary Clinton in 2016, I did like, phone calls… I was really into it when I was younger… I had a list of phone numbers, and I was just like ‘Hi, I’m Jilly. I was wondering if you’re thinking of supporting Hillary Clinton,’ I would do that for hours, and I liked it. I wasn’t forced to do any of it,” said Jilly.
Since Representative Nielson is a Democrat in a mostly conservative state and legislature, the job can be demanding, with a slower turnout rate.
“I’d say it’s really frustrating for her. Any win is a big win [for] her… she’ll take what she can get, but she’ll always want more,” commented Jilly.
These past five years, Iowa has seen some of the most conservative bills pass through the legislature, including the ‘Fetal Heartbeat Bill,’ which was a bill passed in 2018 and 2023, that banned abortion after six weeks. Both times the bill was struck down by Iowa judges.
In 2018, during a House debate on the fetal heartbeat bill, Rep. Nielson wore a RAYGUN T-shirt reading: “The GOP: Creating Government Small Enough To Fit Inside Your Vagina,’ in an effort to make her voice heard.
“[That is] probably one of the most significant memories when I think of what my mom does… [it’s] hard being in the minority, and taking those measures to be heard not only on her views but for her constituents I think was very important and influential,” said Jilly.
Even though this event sparked controversy within the Iowa GOP, Rep. Nielsen gained the attention of people beyond Iowa.
“I remember her talking about emails and letters she got from people all over the nation that were inspired [by her],” said Jilly.
However, being an elected official or in politics can present dangers, especially in a more divided climate. According to a report done by the National League of Cities (NLC), 87% of local officials surveyed observed an increase in attacks on public officials in recent years, while 81% reported experiencing threats themselves.
Not only do these threats from individuals attack the official in question, but they often threaten their family members as well.
“My mom had gotten multiple death threats. And there have been some against my whole family…there have been multiple times where she’d text us and be like ‘Make sure the doors are locked’,” commented Jilly.
From establishing a ‘Walking School Bus’ program at Jilly’s school to advocating for thousands of constituents, Jilly is most inspired by her Mom’s political journey.
“She had her firm opinions and she wanted the best for us, and it turned into caring about everyone else,” concluded Jilly.

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About the Contributor
Megan Quinn, Editor-in-Chief
Megan is a senior at Liberty. This is her third year on staff and she is the editor-in-chief for the 2023-2024 school year. She is involved in theatre, mock trial, speech, and city government. In her free time, she likes to watch video essays and try new coffee shops.