My name is Leroy Dean Pingel and I grew up in Northern Iowa, Kossuth County. I spent my whole life helping my family farm. My dad retired from farming, and so I no longer have the privilege of going home in the fall and helping to bring the harvest in. As people pass away and people move, the small farms have been plowed under and you have more and more acres being farmed by so few farmers. I couldn’t justify farming my dad’s family farm, I would never make a living.
So, I went to school to be an electrician and I work for Cargill. I work hard and try to make the right decisions. I don’t dwell on some of the mistakes I made in the past and it’d be nice to be able to actually say, “Hey, I voted,” and try to make a difference.
One little vote probably ain’t going to do much, but when I sit here and I think, “I’m an American citizen, but from a mistake I made, I can’t vote,” it really impacts me. In a way I don’t even feel like I’m part of this country sometimes.
Three years ago I started having water issues. I couldn’t shower, I had low water pressure. The city says, “It is not our problem you’re going to have to call a plumber.” Long story short, I got a hold of a contractor to come out here and we found the leak right out in the middle of the road. If it’s on their property, I think they should fix it. And I had to prove it. I had to get an attorney and it cost me thousands of dollars.
I think there just needs to be some changes around here. In many small towns across this country, the money’s tight. They don’t want to spend it. They spent over a million dollars on this fancy city hall, but they cannot maintain this town.
When I was much younger, I didn’t pay attention to the political scene like I do today. It just didn’t happen. As I’ve gotten older, I’m more focused on things that are important to me and how I see the future. I have so much more wisdom today and as time goes by, you realize how short life is, and I want to be able to vote. I want to be able to say that I did something as an American, that it can make a difference.
Leroy Pingel worked with organizers from Restore Your Vote and received a letter from the governor saying that his voting rights had been restored. He plans to vote in the 2020 election. However, Iowa remains the only state in the United States that requires all people with felony histories to apply to the governor before they can have their voting rights restored.