Leonard puts his faith in Republican Party
By Jean Caspers-Simmet
HOLSTEIN, Iowa -- Since the 1986 race, Mark Leonard has chaired the Ida County Republican Central Committee for several years before he retired this spring.
He's attended county, district and state Republican conventions and worked on the district platform committee. He's campaigned for many Republican candidates. Leonard served on the National Advisory Committee when the father of the current President Bush ran. He was co-chairman of Farmers for Bush in western Iowa. This election, he is Ida County campaign chairman for Bush.
"President Bush has done an incredible job in what are really amazing and difficult times,'' Leonard said. "He has faced these new and unique threats with honor, integrity and decisiveness."
When George H. W. Bush was running for president, he once called to talk to Leonard. His daughter answered the phone.
"She handed me the phone and said, 'Dad this guy wants to talk to you, and he says he's the vice president. She thought it was some joker,'' Leonard said. "Vice President Bush was laughing on the other end.
"As much as people want to degrade the Bush family for being inside a secret conspiracy for the rich, I think they are wonderful people who are intensely serious about family values. They are so sincere in their outlook on character issues.''
Leonard said he supports Republican candidates because the party suits him.
"If the party doesn't suit me any more, I won't be a Republican,'' Leonard said. "I have close friends who are Democrats, but they're philosophically far more aligned with today's Republican Party. They have some family loyalty issue, and in their minds they're convinced it would not be right to do anything different. I'm not fixated on being Republican, I'm fixated on policies, issues and philosophy, and the Republican party has done that for me.''
Leonard and his wife, Sheryl, have five children: Emily, Erin, Ember, Denae and Austin. The three oldest girls were pages in the Iowa Senate. The two oldest daughters were special assistant to the Senate majority leader, and Ember has worked as secretary to the Secretary of the Senate.
Leonard and his family operate a purebred Angus and Limousin operation selling to customers on five continents. Their operation of 400 females is largely Limousin with some Angus. Leonard's great-grandfather brought some of the earliest registered Angus to western Iowa in 1884. Leonard's father, Bill, brought some of the first Limousins to Iowa in 1969 and still raises them.
Leonard has worked in banking since 1990. He recently started a financial consulting business working with borrowers and lenders developing business plans and cash flows, finding financing and doing credit analysis. In the 1980s Leonard, an animal science graduate from Iowa State University, taught himself to do cash flows and financial analysis to help his operation survive. He used his skills to help others put plans together so they could stay in business.
"I'm not a miracle worker, but a lot of people feel hopeless when they're not, and I help them see that,'' Leonard said.