Joe Bolkcom

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Joe Bolkcom

Joe Bolkcom represents Iowa City, University Heights, East Lucas Township and the city of Hills. He previously served for six years on the Johnson County Board of Supervisors.

Senator Bolkcom is the Senate Majority Whip and chair of the Ways & Means Committee. He also serves on the Appropriations, Commerce, Human Resources, Natural Resources & Environment committees and Health & Human Services Budget Subcommittee.

Bolkcom is a member of FEMA’s national advisory council. Before becoming a county supervisor, he worked for three years at the Johnson County Public Health Department addressing the county’s leading heath issues, including youth access to tobacco products and environmental health concerns.

Bolkcom helped found and direct two senior citizen advocacy organizations fighting for lower health care cost for seniors in Iowa and Illinois. He has also been active in state and local environmental protection efforts.

Bolkcom works as the outreach and community Education Director for the UI center for Global and Regional Environmental Research and the Iowa Flood Center.

Senator Bolkcom lives in Iowa City.

He is divorced since 2011 from Socialist Party USA leader Karen Kubby.[1]


Joe Bolkcom graduated from Saint Ambrose University and earned a masters degree in Public Affairs from the University of Iowa.[2]


Before becoming a County Supervisor, Bolkcom worked for three years at the county public health department helping address the county’s leading health issues including youth access to tobacco products and environmental health concerns.

Prior to that and for nearly a decade, Joe Bolkcom helped found and direct two senior citizen advocacy organizations fighting for lower health care costs for seniors in Iowa and Illinois. He has also been active in state and local environmental protection efforts.[3]

Asian & Latino Coalition Legislative Breakfast

Mitch Henry January 28, 2017 ·

Asian & Latino Coalition Legislative Breakfast.


with Joe Bolkcom, June Owens, Rick Smith, Michael McKinley, Paula Hutton McKinley, Tom Henderson, Skip Moore, Mary Campos, Joe Henry & Kerry Bowen

Iowa State Capitol - 1/24/2017

Progressive States Network Gala

April 19, 2007, Progressive States Network’s first annual gala honored U.S. Senator Jon Tester, U.S. Representative Keith Ellison, and Deborah Rappaport. Awards were also presented to Iowa State Senator Joe Bolkcom, Kansas State Senator Donald Betts, and Washington State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles. Participants talked about promoting their legislative agenda and public policy advocacy. They also talked about issues such as operations in Iraq, grassroots organizing and recruitment, and public participation.

Other speakers included Joel Barkin Executive Director Progressive States Network, Steve Doherty Founding Co-Chair Progressive States Network, Senators Al Franken and Bernie Sanders, Lisa Seitz Gruwell Chief Operating Officer Skyline Public Works, Washington (State) Tom Matzzie Director, David Sirota Founding Co-Chair Progressive States Network.[4]

Supported Progressive Health Care Reform

In late 2009, Joe Bolkcom was one of more than 1,000 state legislators to sign a letter entitled "State Legislators for Progressive Health Care Reform". The letter was a project of the Progressive States Network and was developed in consultation with national health care reform advocates, including the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, Community Catalyst, Families USA, Herndon Alliance, National Women's Law Center, Northeast Action, SEIU, and Universal Health Care Action Network. The letter reads in part,[5]

"Failure to pass national comprehensive health reform now will further jeopardize state and local budgets, undermining public services like education, public safety, and transportation infrastructure... We, the undersigned, call on President Obama and the Congress to enact bold and comprehensive health care reform this year – based on these principles and a strong federal-state collaboration – and pledge our support as state legislators and allies in pursuit of guaranteed, high quality, affordable health care for all."

Progressive States Network

In 2010, Joe Bolkcom served on the Board of Directors for the Progressive States Network, an organization which seeks to "transform the political landscape by sparking progressive actions at the state level".[6]

ICAN Health Rally

Iowa City, Iowa August 12, 2009 -- On Wednesday, August 12th, Iowa Citizen Action Network as part of Health Care for America Now (HCAN) - the nation's largest health care campaign - hosted a press conference with Congressman David Loebsack (IA-2) to release the House Energy and Commerce Committee District by District health care reform impact report, "Benefits of America's Affordable Health Choices Act [HR 3200] in the 2nd Congressional District of Iowa."

"Iowa Citizen Action Network has brought together Iowans across the state and in DC for rallies and town hall meetings and listening posts and what we are hearing from all of the people of Iowa is they demand real reform," said Betty Ahrens, Executive Director of Iowa Citizen Action Network, a leader for national health care reform in Iowa.

Senator Joe Bolkcom, who represents State Senate District 39, explained the importance of national health care reform for his constituents and for Iowa lawmakers, "Iowa has made great strides in improving health care at the state level in the past few years, but we need a national partner to do what needs to be done for those who need help now. Passing federal health insurance reform is urgently needed and I thank Congressman Loebsack for his leadership in DC on this issue."[7]

Cox relationship

Jeff Cox, Joe Bolkcom, Iowa City Federation of Labor Awards Feb. 20, 2014

Labor Day 2014

Dave Loebsack said he's been accused of pulling punches in his Thursday debate with opponent Mariannette Miller-Meeks, but the congressman told a Labor Day crowd at the Iowa City Federation of Labor picnic, 2014, "If you were wondering why I was holding back, that’s not gonna happen anymore.”

“This is one congressman who’s not afraid to say the word Union, not afraid to say the word Labor” He said his priorities include ending wage theft, raising the minimum wage, and closing close tax loopholes. “My opponent will not stand against policies that send jobs overseas.”

There was no Ready for Hillary presence but Jeff Cox spoke on behalf of Bernie Sanders, noting in a non-subtle shot at Clinton, “He’s never served on the board of Walmart.” Sanders is scheduled to attend the Johnson County Democrat's barbecue on October 5.

Other elected officials and candidates on hand included: Secretary of Agriculture candidate Sherrie Taha, State Senators Joe Bolkcom, Bob Dvorsky and Senate Candidate Kevin Kinney; Reps. Mary Mascher and Sally Stutsman and House candidates David Johnson and John Greener; Supervisors Rod Sullivan, Janelle Rettig and candidate Mike Carberry; Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek, Recorder Kim Painter, and city council members Jim Throgmorton and Kingsley Botchway of Iowa City, Mitch Gross of Coralville, and North Liberty mayor candidate Amy Nielsen.[8]

The Prairie Progressive

Senator Joe Bolkcom contributed an article for The Prairie Progressive of December 2014, "Are Iowa Republicans Supporting Wage Theft?"



Iowa City Democratic Socialists of America shared Chris Laursen's live video, May 20 2017·


Jamie Kearney, Matt Kearney, Rod Sullivan, Elizabeth Dinschel, Joe Bolkcom, Mazahir Salih, Steve Siegel, Kate Kane, Daniel Clark, Jodi Clemens, Mike Carberry, Jaime Allen, Liz Bennett, Rob Hogg, Sandy Dockendorff, Iris DeMent, Nora Taft, Louie Meier.