Daniel Van Holland is the community and economic development director in Perry. He’s an Iowan who grew up on a farm in Pocahontas County, lived in South Dakota for a decade and returned to his Iowa roots via Perry six months ago. He attended Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S.D., where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in government, and then he attended the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he received a Master of Public Administration degree.
Laura: Name a song you could listen to on “repeat” for forever.
Daniel: The Nuclear Power Trio’s “A Clear and Present Rager”—a little eccentric, purely instrumental.
Laura: App on your phone that you use the most.
Laura: What’s your favorite thing to do in Perry?
Daniel: It’s a lot of fun just to walk through the downtown area. A lot of neat shops here, certainly, and a lot of neat buildings.
Laura: If you won a free vehicle of your choice, what vehicle would you choose?
Daniel: If I could just walk everywhere, I’d prefer that. (Sorry, Detroit.)
Laura: What’s your favorite exercise?
Daniel: I love walking. (At this point Daniel may have thought I was a poor listener or worse!)
Laura: If you had to take a tourist one place in the Perry area, where would you take the person?
Daniel: I think our historic downtown—the hotel, shops, coffee at the “Perk.”
Laura: What do you wish you really understood about Perry?
Daniel: There is a healthy dose of negativity directed at what we do. I’d like to understand where it came from, how it developed and what we can do to alleviate that.
Laura: What one thing would you like to see happen in Perry that hasn’t happened yet?
Daniel: Perry is not the most walkable of towns (as it relates to sidewalks dead ending). I’d like to fix that.
Laura: Favorite Perry comfort food?
Daniel: The haystack at Lou’s Diner with a nice cup of black coffee. It’s to die for.
Laura: When people come to Perry for the first time, what do you think surprises them the most?
Daniel: They don’t realize how much there is to offer here. Their reaction is, “Wow, there’s actually quite a bit here.”
Laura: What’s the one thing that you really wish all Perryites understood about you personally?
Daniel: The scope of my work. The things I’m focused on. My core role is overseeing development in the city–that it’s done right and doesn’t hurt the community, their neighbors or the environment.
(The short profile of the community and economic development director’s position, published by the city, includes the following: A senior executive level position responsible for and coordinates the operations and activities of the department, which include:
• Oversight of all development within the City
• Oversight and implementation of the City’s Comprehensive Plan
• Oversight of the City’s Community and Economic Development Action Plan
• Oversight and enforcement of the City’s subdivision, zoning, building and other land use and development codes
• Enforcement of the City’s property maintenance codes
• Oversight of permitting for residential, commercial and other types of construction
• Act as the Planning and Zoning Administrator)
Laura: Name one of your hidden talents or interests that might surprise people.
Daniel: I like to consider myself an amateur historian. (He’s your guy if you’re seeking someone to talk medieval battlefields with.)
Laura: What was your favorite thing to do on the playground when you were a kid?
Daniel: The swing set.
Laura: Favorite Iowa day trip?
Daniel: Head up north to visit my family (in Pocahontas County.)
Laura: What book changed your life?
Daniel: “Plunkitt of Tammany Hall: A Series of Very Plain Talks on Very Practical Politics” by George Washington Plunkitt (originally published in 1905). (Daniel read this book in graduate school.) Weirdly honest. It humanizes where he was coming from. Plunkitt was morally repugnant, but you could understand his reasoning. He didn’t think he was awful. It was an interesting book.
(Incorporated in 1789, Tammany Hall was a New York City political machine of the democratic party. Plunkitt served in both houses of the New York state legislature and was a leader of the political organization of Tammany Hall. Selected chapter titles in his book of short talks include: “Honest Graft and Dishonest Graft,” “New York City is Pie for the Hayseeds,” and “Dangers of the Dress Suit in Politics.”)
Laura: What is the best TV show of all time?
Daniel: The first iteration of “The Twilight Zone.” (Fun trivia: Daniel’s phone background is a photo of William Shatner’s face in a scene from “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”—an episode of The Twilight Zone.)
Laura: Motto/saying/rule to live by.
Daniel: Do it and do it right.
Laura: What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten?
Daniel: Seasoned crickets.
Laura: Share a bucket list item of yours.
Daniel: I like really historical architecture. I’d like to get to New Orleans.
Laura: Person you’d most like to meet.
Daniel: My umpteenth great-grandparent, Hendric. I want to ask him why he changed our name (to Van Holland). He changed it but we didn’t come to America for 100 years (so it wasn’t an Americanization).
Welcome back to Iowa, Daniel. Happy exploring Perry on foot.
(Laura’s favorite Perry comfort food? That would have been my mom’s meatloaf—which was made of meat (no oatmeal). No one else’s makes the cut. She’d make it for me every time I came home (and cut the ends off for me before putting it on the table so no one else could take them). Meatloaf, scalloped corn and banana nut bread.)
If you would like to see this feature continue, then please personally venture to spend approximately 30 minutes with Laura answering her Quick Questions, or nudge (either gently or with politely more forceful encouragement) others in the community who you’d like to see featured. Anyone with a connection to the Perry community is welcome. Send an email with your name and the best way to contact you to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Be “Perry Nice” and provide Laura a helping hand. She enjoys gathering answers to her questions and desires to strengthen and enhance personal connections through her articles, but the introvert in her hates entreating.