Carolyn Bogott: Jeanne Poppe — A love of politics

Published 4:58 pm Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Jeanne Poppe enjoys politics. She points out that politics are everywhere. In families, workplaces, among friends, as well as in government.

She does not mean the usual narrow definition of the word, which infers fierce partisanship and conflict, but the purer definition as stated on Wikipedia: “Politics is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status.”

Jeanne Poppe

Jeanne spent years working on this broader meaning. She said to do well in politics it requires educating yourself, listening to all points of view and then engaging in debate, advocating for your point of view, being willing to compromise, accept criticism and defend your vote.

Jeanne Poppe was raised in Houston, Minnesota, in a family which participated in many community activities. She became well-grounded in the understanding of people with a degree in sociology and criminal justice from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, and a master’s degree in counseling from Winona State University. After working for several years as a paralegal and career counselor, Jeanne was hired in 1993 by Riverland Community College to lead the Women’s Center. In 1995 she became Director of Admissions for Riverland and from 1999 until her retirement in 2019 she was a counselor. All these work situations involved politics in many ways.

In 1994, Jeanne began her formal entry into politics in the narrower sense of the word. She was approached about running for Austin City Council. She knew she enjoyed leadership and was a rational thinker who could make good decisions and was a patient listener. She took on this challenge to be integrally involved in the civic engagement that her family had taught her to value.

She was elected to a second four-year term, serving from 1994 to 2002 as an Austin City Council member.  She loved the work and feels good about the progressive projects that were completed during her tenure. She developed a deep appreciation for Austin and the good people who were in leadership.

Among her mentors, Jeanne lists Pat Piper, Ruth Rasmussen, Greta Kraushaar, Marian Robinson and Bonnie Rietz. In 2002, with the help of these mentors and many others, she first ran for a seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives. She lost that time but ran again in the next election in 2004, and won a narrow victory over the incumbent. That began 16 years of having the privilege (and the headaches) of representing the people of Mower, Fillmore, Dodge and Freeborn counties, which make up District 27B.

While in the legislature, one of her most satisfying memories was serving on the agriculture committee and winning over those who doubted her abilities in that area.

She found her political work fulfilling. She recognized the many voices that have helped her to educate herself, including her own three children. Her work at the state level gave her a greater appreciation of Austin and all that it has to offer.

Jeanne regrets the meanness and the partisan politics that has come about with the use of social media. However, she feels it is very important to be involved and encourages others to run for office and to have an impact where decisions are being made.

How lucky we have been to have this modest, bright, deep thinking and well-educated person working on behalf of our community. Thank you for your public service, Jeanne Poppe!

For more information about the Austin Branch of AAUW, contact Sue Grove  sue.grove@riverland.edu  or Carolyn Bogott  csbogott@gmail.com . The American Association of University Women, now AAUW, is open to anyone who has completed a two-year degree or beyond.  AAUW welcomes men who support our objectives and there are student memberships available. AAUW has been empowering women since 1881.  We support equity and education for women.  Scholarships are offered, as well as help in litigation in cases dealing with sex discrimination.  We are the most important and highly respected research and lobbying organization dealing with women’s issues such as equal opportunity and job equality.