MASON CITY — Former Iowa congressman Jim Leach will be holding a discussion on contemporary politics in Mason City tonight. Leach represented eastern Iowa US House districts from 1977 to 2007 and currently is a visiting professor of law at The University of Iowa. Tonight’s event is part of North Iowa Area Community College’s Lifelong Learning Institute series and is sponsored by First Citizens Bank.

The bank’s O. Jay Tomson says he’s seen a similar presentation by Leach where he talked about the difficulty of being bipartisan in a very partisan environment.  “He can relate back to the time of our founding fathers and the federalists letters and the difficulty we had in bringing an adversarial system forward in this country and being civil about it. We’ve had some very tumultuous times in our history, and we’re going through a period now when sometimes it’s difficult to be civil, and to gauge what it is we say to one another at a time when there are two sides to just about everything in contemporary politics in this country.”

Tomson says Leach won’t be pushing one political side or another and will speak about our responsibility as citizens being educated so we can vote intelligently.  “He speaks as a statesman, not as a politician really. That’s the beauty of having Jim Leach because he is eloquent in his speech, his rhetoric is very good. He’s not here to suggest that you vote conservatively or liberally. He wants us to understand the history of our country and the politics we’ve been in, and we’ve been in severe dissidence in years past. We’ve been through a Civil War in this country. How do we gauge ourselves as citizens so we can speak to one another in a gentle manner?”

Tonight’s presentation starts at 7 o’clock in the North Iowa Community Auditorium on the NIACC campus. It’s free and open to the public.