meet

About Kim West

Early years & education

Born September, 28, 1953, Story County Hospital, Nevada, Iowa, to Marilyn Ann Thorson West and William D West, although parents were separated and later divorced. I had one older brother, Kirk [b. 1950]. Mom remarried in 1959 to Glenn Bader, and later a sister was born, Kay. …my mom was of Norwegian heritage, so she was raised in the Lutheran church, but by the time I was born, she had moved her affiliation literally down the block to a smaller congregation at the evangelical United Brethren Church, which provided quite the home-like setting for us. Mom was a Sunday school teacher, which meant that Kirk and I attended classes regularly as well. I took organ lessons, and, as I got older, eventually played the organ for church services. I played the organ at funerals, too, from time to time. …following two years in a privately operated daycare while my mother worked in the treasurer’s office at the story county courthouse in Nevada, I attended elementary school in the Nevada community school district. I attended grades 1-4 at Shipley school, an idyllic old high school out in the country, then the remainder of my school years were in town, upper elementary, junior high, and high school, graduating in 1971. While in school, although I was not a naturally gifted nor talented athlete, I did participate in wrestling and, to a lesser degree, cross country and track, but mostly just to hang out with my friends who were athletically inclined. I did ride my bicycle all over the place, however. …I attended the university of Iowa, in Iowa City, beginning in the fall of 1971, graduating in may, 1978, ultimately getting a bachelor of science degree in elementary education. I took full advantage of the many fine colleges and departments available at the university, and certainly received a well-rounded education by the time I received my degree. 

Employment & Education

My stepfather owned a small farm within the Nevada city limits, upon which he alternately grew corn or soybeans, and each summer, my brother and I were tasked with walking the beans or the corn to keep ahead of the weeds and other invasive things that grew there. In exchange for a long morning’s labor, we were paid $.25, just enough to cover admission to the swimming pool on the east side of town. In addition to walking the fields, we also worked in his father’s large vegetable garden, weeding and harvesting crops that were sold to local grocery stores. As I got older, I worked evenings at the Holiday Inn in Ames as a bus boy, then for a few summers for a local doctor enclosing his farm with a lovely wooden fence [the old fashioned way, all hand tools and hand-dug post holes, and hand painted; good honest work in the sun]. …after high school, and during college school years, I came home and worked for the city of Nevada at the waste water treatment plant. I spent a lot of time mowing, but I also spent a lot of time in the sewers, running tests, doing system checks, and all the stuff that keeps the city flowing. I later worked as a welder at a local business that made garbage truck boxes. After my daughter was born, and I took three semesters off from school, I worked briefly as a nurse’s aide at a care facility and then for a year and a half, I worked for the highway commission, first as a survey crew member, and later as a construction inspector on construction of I-35 and US-20 in northern Iowa. …while attending college, my mom insisted that I not work my freshman year, so I volunteered at a cooperative daycare center located just across the street from my dormitory. Turns out it was the very first daycare in Iowa City, so I was packed with all sorts of political history, and I fell in love with the place, the kids, and the people, so I stayed connected. By my sophomore year, I started working as a bus driver for CAMBUS, a student run free bus system that grew into the largest bus system of its kind, and which is still functioning quite well to this day. In addition to CAMBUS, I continued my love affair with daycare, and found myself as director and coordinator of BOLEO daycare, which was an innovative cooperative daycare that instituted many new ideas, socially and educationally, that set new standards for early childhood education. Plus, it was great fun for the kids AND the workers and parents. …after graduating with my bachelor’s degree, but before beginning teaching school, I spent a summer as a consultant, working with Amish families with developmentally challenged children, devising programs to help them keep their children at home while helping them accommodate their particular needs, while at the same time helping the children develop greater self-confidence with an eye on some higher level of independence as they grow older and mature. I then began teaching 5th and 6th grade language arts and science in the North Linn school district, in Coggon, Iowa. I also served as assistant varsity wrestling coach. This was a wonderful experience, and quite the learning opportunity for me, as I learned very early on that, as much as I loved teaching, I did not love teaching in an environment where I did not have the support of my administration, despite what they said to me. In my spare time, I began preparing very hard for my law school admission test. However, as a classroom teacher, I stuck to my guns with classic, old school grammar education, with high emphasis on spelling, proper sentence structure, understanding various parts of speech, diagramming sentences, and so forth. And as science teacher for both grade levels, on the first day of class, I gave each child a $.25 “Diana” camera, and showed them how to make their own portable changing bag/dark room, so they could load and unload film without exposing it. I then showed them how to develop the film, including mixing the chemicals, and how to safely dry the negatives for later use. Next, we learned how to print photos from their negatives, using simple contact sheet methods, no enlargers needed. I explained that everything we did in science class would be recorded in this way, as we would be spending a lot of time outside exploring the world around us. I planned to studying animal tracks, trees and plants, birds, you name it. We also would be studying comparative anatomy, and building scale skeletons inside with paper Mache over boards and wires, and ALL would be photo-documented. So it was a fun year. The wrestling season was great, too, but you’ll just have to ask me about it. …after my school year was over, I went back to Iowa City, and spent a year as a special student, taking Russian language and literature classes along with many photography classes, and worked in the darkroom and drove for CAMBUS again. …while in law school, I worked three different part-time jobs to keep my daughter and I afloat: I was a special assistance to the dean of the law school [a lofty title, but I was the official photographer for him and all the other groups and activities]. I also worked at the Protective Association for Tenants, a student run office set up to help students out of sticky housing issues. I decided to make a file of bad landlords in Johnson county to help folks take advantage of the provision allowing the awarding of punitive damages surrounding the withholding of rental deposits. This was 1980, pre-computer days, so I went to the courthouse and pulled every single appropriate small claims file, and built an archive/data base for students to use to prove that certain landlords had a demonstrable history of abuse and deserved to have punitive damages awarded against them. It was a game changing deal, and while landlords were not happy, I was thrilled. In the meantime, I continued my work at the daycare center. 

After law school

I graduated from the university of Iowa college of law in December, 1982, and began employment in the Cerro Gordo county public defender office, in Mason City, Iowa, in January, 1983. Our office received court appointed cases of indigent clients charged with serious misdemeanors and felonies, as well as juvenile Child In Need of Assistance Cases and involuntary commitment cases for mental or substance abuse reasons. My caseload was about 1/3 juvenile and 2/3 criminal cases. On my second day at work, I helped with a burglary case, and I was hooked on jury work. I LOVED it. I worked in the mason city office until may, 1987, then transferred to the story county office in Nevada, where I worked until April, 1994. It was during my time in the story county office that I handled the many dozens of cases arising from the first VEISHEA riots in the late 1980s. THAT was memorable, to be sure. In 1994, however, the chance arose to move to the Des Moines office, and I jumped at that. The nature of my caseload changed to exclusively misdemeanors, and non-trial work, as I focused on case resolution and rehabilitation of clients. …In 2002, in my 20th year of legal practice, I realized I wanted a different focus, a different challenge. I left fulltime legal work, joined a band, put out an album, toured a bit, then started working part-time at a coffeeshop and doing part-time legal work. This continued to be a very happy time. …I had been racing bicycles since 1984, and had been a strident, vocal bike advocate all that time. I had a radio show on local sports radio station KXNO, “The Kim West Radio Cycling Show,” that aired weekly for two years. In 2006, along with a couple cycling friends, we began work on what would become the Des Moines bike collective, a non-profit organization dedicated to putting butts on bikes, and educating the public in the meantime. It finally opened in April, 2008, and is alive and pedaling strongly today. …I retired in 2017, after I realized I was no longer enjoying the dehumanized nature of the practice of law, and that computerization has taken the personality out of the equation for me. However, I continue to love, adopt, transport, and advocate for sighthounds of all sorts, Greyhounds, Borzois, Galgos, Podencos, you name it.

Personal Life

I’m 67, and after spending nearly 30 yearly as a single parent to a wonderful daughter, delightfully single myself, out of the blue, I found myself in love again, and ten years later, here I am. No more kids, but dogs, a big house and garden, and a bunch of bicycles, and running for governor. My wife, Sue, the female companion, is adjusting to the idea. My daughter, addie hinson, is a nurse practitioner in a hospital emergency room. Her husband, Dwight hinson, after a twenty year career with the iowa state university police department, is now an investigator and program specialist with iowa state’s office of equal opportunity. They’re both on board. So are my grandchildren, Nyla, a 16 year old junior at gilbert high school, and Jabari, a 13 year old 8th grader at ames middle school. Not only are they on board, they are the reasons I’m running for governor. I want to leave Iowa a better state for THEM, and their generation, because right now, it isn’t a better state than when I was their age. I can’t check out leaving the place a mess for them. That’s NOT how my mom raised me.