Vargas vs. Vargas -Hola Archives


While most people watch presidential candidates debate on television, for Henry Vargas and his daughter Rita Vargas,
both from Davenport, the debate can take place around his dinning room table without any of the candidates.   You see, Henry – a founding member of Davenport’s LULAC Council 10 – is a Barack Obama supporter and his daughter, elected Scott County Recorder, Rita Vargas is a big Hillary Clinton backer.  Both have been very involved in politics for years.  

Not only are they trying to get others in their community to support their picks, but they are also trying to get the rest of the family to pick their one over the other.

“When you tell them who to vote for you lose them.  So I drop hints,” Henry Vargas said with a laugh.


While they are rooting for different candidates they say they are not necessarily at odds with each other, they say it’s because there are plenty of good choices this year.

“Our country cannot afford to lose this election.  We cannot afford to have a continuation of George Bush policies,” Rita Vargas said.

A deciding factor for Mr. Vargas is Senator Obama’s stance on the war in Iraq and the benefits he has supported for veterans, simply because his grandson was recruited by the Air Force.  “I just hope that he stays in a safe area,” Mr. Vargas said, adding that 128,000 Latino servicemen and women have been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001 and that as of March 24, 2007 there have been 347 Latin-American troops that have died and more than 1,500 that have been wounded in Iraq.  He reads this numbers from an Obama release that he has in front of him.


He says that besides the injuries and death, previous wars have caused mental anguish on our returning troops and he sees it repeating itself.“I never was in the service but I do recall the 2nd World War when servicemen came back, they kind of hid it [psychological trauma], they called it ‘battle fatigue’ or whatever it was, but it was probably the same thing, and it got worse in Korea, and even worse in Vietnam and now its repeating itself again, or its getting worse,” he said.

“What is this country doing to offer these veterans?” Rita Vargas asks.  She agrees with her father about the need for better benefits for veterans, but she believes that Senator Clinton’s health care plan can help many more in America, including many of those veterans.  She also believes that Clinton will be ready from the first day since she has been in the White House and served two terms as Senator.  


“She knows who the key players are; I think she is going to know how to get things done,” Rita Vargas said. 

As an elected official and Hillary supporter she has done some speaking engagements on Senator Clinton’s behalf alongside Iowa Representative Cindy Winkler.  She says that she is happy that not only do they ask for her guidance as a Hispanic but they care about what issues are important to her as a woman.   This resonates with her because some people are proud of her being a Hispanic in an elected office in Scott County, but rarely ever mention the fact that she is the first female elected Scott County Recorder.


Rita credits her father for getting her politically involved.  It was a way for them to spend time together when she was a kid, but they didn’t discuss politics while fishing or flying kites, they organized demonstrations, rallies and boycotts in Davenport during the Civil Rights movement of the 60s.  Henry also organized boycotts of grapes outside of local grocery stores, on his dining room wall hangs a framed autographed poster of labor and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, whom Henry met through his involvement with labor unions. Henry got involved politically when his older brother Jesse Vargas founded labor unions for foundries in Bettendorf in the 40s and 50s.

“That’s when we learned how to deal with issues and speak up at the city council meetings, at the school boards, because the union, they kind of trained us on how to handle negotiations,” Henry Vargas said, adding that back then the two of them controlled the Scott County Young Democrats with his brother as president and himself as vice-president.  

That is why today when the campaigns managers need help winning the coveted Iowa caucus, they turn to the Vargas family.  Rita says that even though they are sought out by these people, that they are not special and that any Hispanic wanting to help with a candidate’s campaign just needs to show up in their offices and ask how they can help. 

“I’m going for Richardson!,” yells Henry’s wife from the other room; a sign that the two still have a long way to go getting people to choose their picks.


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