Republican governor puts prominent Ft. Dodge Democrat on Iowa Parole Board

FORT DODGE — Republican Governor Kim Reynolds has appointed a Democrat who’s the longest-serving African American legislator in state history to the Iowa Parole Board.

Helen Miller of Fort Dodge served 16 years in the Iowa House and emphasized working across party lines. “I don’t care if you’re a D or an R and I do genuinely try to show that,” Miller said a few years ago after receiving an award for her legislative work.

In a written statement, Governor Reynolds called Miller “an outstanding public servant” who shares her vision of “second chances” for offenders to become productive citizens when they’re released. Miller, in a statement released by the governor’s office, said she’s excited to play a part “in creating a justice system that prioritizes redemption.”

In 2015, Miller hosted a summit in Cedar Falls featuring two national leaders in the criminal justice reform movement. She spoke with Radio Iowa during the event.

“If this momentum catches, I think we’ve started something right here in the state of Iowa,” Miller said.

Miller did not seek reelection to the Iowa House in 2018. In a retirement speech last year, she offered this parting advice achieving policy goals.

“Be persistent and patient and don’t worry about who gets credit for it,” Miller said.

Miller, a graduate of Georgetown Law School, is a former criminal defense attorney. She and her late husband moved to Fort Dodge in 1999 after he retired from a career in the military.