• C.J. Petersen

“The reasons I love C.J. are the reasons you should want him to be your State Senator”

From the desk of my fiance and lifelong Carroll County resident, Luke Schulte:

When I first met C.J., he seemed shy. He was polite, too.

We sat across from each other in a noisy Mexican restaurant, taking turns dipping the complimentary chips in the complimentary salsa. We made small talk until a server came and offered us drinks while we perused the menu. The server rattled off some drink specials (I think a very large margarita was one of them). C.J. looked down, looked at me, and quickly ordered a Coke. “I don’t drink,” he explained, looking vulnerable and like he wanted to say more. After the server left our table, he looked at me with calm determination and said, “I’m an alcoholic. I’ll be an alcoholic for the rest of my life. I don’t want that to be a hindrance to you, but if I drink again, I’ll die.”

That last part stuck in my mind as we continued talking over dinner. I was wrong, by the way--C.J. is not shy. I finished my food before he was even halfway done. We talked about our families, our goals, our favorite foods and where we’d like to travel. He made me laugh, and I found his smile to be infectious.I loved that from the start. We said good night after our dinner and a movie. For the record, he’s a rom-com guy. Let it be known I’d much rather have watched the latest comic book thriller.

I thought on my drive back home to Carroll how much I admired C.J.’s willingness to be so honest. I trusted him then, and I trust him still.

C.J. has been interested in politics since he was a kid, and while his trivia knowledge about American politics seems kind of geeky to me, I do love that he not only cares about these issues, he understands them, too. If he doesn’t know about something, he’ll spend hours reading and asking people questions to get perspective and educate himself. That's something I think we need a lot more of in Des Moines.

It’s always fun to watch C.J. and his dad, Sam, talk about politics. It’s like a lightning-round of discussion. I love that the two of them, despite their political differences always find common ground when discussing the news of the day.

C.J. has a truly impressive knack for disagreeing without being disagreeable and bringing people along with him. I admire that he's willing to listen and change his mind when he's given better information. Those are characteristics that will make him an incredible State Senator.

C.J. has a lot of passion for helping people because he genuinely cares about the wellbeing of others. At Trinity Episcopal Church in Denison, C.J. regularly serves as a worship leader. When the need arose, he stepped up to serve on the Bishop Search and Nominating Committee for the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa. When we realized that businesses were going to close due to COVID-19, C.J. called local food pantry leaders to find out how we could help. I love his commitment to service and community, and I know he'll work tirelessly to serve all the communities of the Sixth District.

I know firsthand how hard it is to come out as a gay man. And C.J. has come out twice: once as a gay man and again as someone who has suffered from alcohol dependency. Both of those actions take a tremendous amount of courage. That kind of bravery is yet another reason why I love C.J. and yet another reason I hope you will vote for him this fall.


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