SIOUX CITY | Completely true yet still improbable, the seed for a run for elective office for Rocky De Witt was planted on his cruise ship honeymoon in the late 1990s.
De Witt in November won the District 5 seat on the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors in November, and on Tuesday he will be sworn in for a four-year term that will run through 2020. That will be more than 20 years removed from the evening cruise meals that he and Vicki De Witt had with a semi-retired judge from Connecticut.
Over the suppers, De Witt fleshed out some political thoughts. The judge became impressed and eventually offered up, "My wife and I think you should get into politics."
De Witt had a succinct response: "I don't know if I should be offended or flattered."
De Witt, 57, in a Journal interview marveled about his 2016, when he rose from a little-known Lawton, Iowa, resident to one of three new supervisors on the county board. De Witt had a difficult path to victory, after originally being one of seven Republican candidates seeking the District 5 position in a year there was an open spot, since 34-year Supervisor Larry Clausen did not seek re-election.
In the June 7 Republican primary, Gary Niles led the voting with 23 percent of the total cast. De Witt, who works as a courthouse security deputy for the County Sheriff's Office, finished second with 21 percent.
But none of the GOP candidates for the District 5 seat met the 35 percent threshold required by state law for nominees to advance to November. That triggered a late June special convention. The candidates had a chance to lobby individual delegates to gain their support.
Ultimately, De Witt got 65 percent of the vote.
"I think I just worked harder than the rest of them," De Witt said.
In November, De Witt won the seat over Bruce Garbe, a Democrat, and Niles, who ran again as an independent. De Witt said he will be a strong voice for keeping property taxes low and repairing aging county buildings in a way that will keep costs as low as possible.
De Witt said he understands what it takes to repair buildings well, after a 22-year career with MidAmerican Energy, also formerly known as Iowa Public Service. He retired from the utility business as a journeyman electrician, then spent years working for Federal Express and selling motorcycles at Rooster's Harley-Davidson in Sioux City.
That period in the 2000s also marked the time De Witt got more dialed into politics. He said he was fortunate to eventually run in a year when political outsiders such as President-elect Donald Trump caught fire with the populace.
"What I am hearing from people, they are just ready for new faces," De Witt asserted.
Now, years after the direction heard on the cruise, he's ready to assume office.
"I am going in with an open mind, eyes open and ready to listen...I want to do what is right for Woodbury County," De Witt said.