|Name||Thomas L. "Tom" Fiegen|
|Address||307 Second Ave. |
Clarence, Iowa 52216, United States
|| October 02, 1958
Mar 20, 2016 08:45pm
Caucasian - Divorced - Catholic - Straight -
|Info||When politicians refer to themselves in the third person, it gets a little stuffy for me, so let me tell you about me in my own words. |
I am the oldest of eleven children raised in a family farm in the corner of South Dakota on the Iowa and Minnesota borders. We didn't have a lot of money, but we always had plenty of food and time for one more basketball game before dark. I was always paired with the youngest kids against the middle kids. I learned how to play hard with young and vulnerable teammates, even when we weren't likely to win. We raised around 300 head of cattle and 1,000 head of hogs a year by hand on our farm with a tine scoop, a scoop shovel, and a two-bushel basket. We did chores 365 days a year in all kinds of weather and under all kinds of conditions. That hard work taught me to be reliable, to be persistent, and to appreciate the value of a hard job well done. On the farm, you quickly learn that if you don't work, you don't eat. Those are the lessons that have carried over into my adult life.
My parents still farm with my brother and I go home every fall to help with the harvest.
After high school, I tried my hand at farming while attending a local college. I also formed a grain bin construction company with my brothers. From there, I went to work for an ethanol fuels company, then grain merchandizing on the Minneapolis Board of Trade. Just before the Reagan recession hit, I worked as an apprentice electrician.
During the 80s, I went back to college to get my law degree and a masters degree in economics from the University of Iowa. I paid my own way through college with loans and by teaching undergraduate economic courses.
At Christmas of my first year at law school, my parents received a "drop dead" letter from their bank giving them just 60 days to repay all of their loans. The bank also froze their checking account. We spent the entire Christmas season talking about how to keep the lights on and meeting with bankruptcy lawyers. When I returned to law school in January, I volunteered evenings at the first FarmAid clinic, near Hills, Iowa, helping other farms.
Volunteering at the FarmAid clinic got me interested in bankruptcy law as a way of helping people save their farms, small businesses, and homes. In the 20+ years since I graduated, I have represented hundreds of family farmers and small businesses in financial distress. Like George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life," money is always an issue for my bankruptcy clients, and I have taken dressed chickens sweet corn in payment for my fees. With my help, many clients have found a way to keep their doors open.
I have also taught college-level economics classes.
In 2000, I jumped into politics and ran against a 17-year incumbent for the Iowa State Senate. I won, and in 2002, I was recognized by the Iowa Farmers Union as a Friend of the Family Farmer. The Iowa Citizen Action Network also recognized me in 2002 for my work on behalf of injured workers. After redistricting and losing to a 36-year incumbent in a close race, I went back to my law practice and private life.
I am the father of four great grown children. While I am an Iowa alum, all four of my children are Cyclones. Go figure. In 2005, my wife and I divorced. We have both stayed in Clarence and stayed active in our children's lives. I am active in St. Mary's parish in Tipton, Iowa, and the Tipton Lions Club. I also volunteer as the mock trial coach at my children's alma mater, North Cedar High School in Stanwood.