Despite the hundreds of cities she has visited since speaking at Five Points Washington in April 2010, Sarah Palin didn’t forget about Washington Mayor Gary Manier and his open invitation to come back to his neck of the woods anytime she wanted to.


After visiting the Iowa State Fair as part of her One Nation tour Aug. 12, Palin stopped at President Ronald Reagan’s boyhood home in Dixon the next day before arriving at Eureka College later that Saturday afternoon.


 

Despite the hundreds of cities she has visited since speaking at Five Points Washington in April 2010, Sarah Palin didn’t forget about Washington Mayor Gary Manier and his open invitation to come back to his neck of the woods anytime she wanted to.

After visiting the Iowa State Fair as part of her One Nation tour Aug. 12, Palin stopped at President Ronald Reagan’s boyhood home in Dixon the next day before arriving at Eureka College later that Saturday afternoon.

How she eventually made it to Reagan’s alma mater however, was in large part due to Manier’s invitation more than a year ago.

“I told her (when she was a guest speaker at Five Points) that because she preaches so much on Reagan’s ideals, that she needed to learn about what made him successful and walk where he walked,” Manier said.

“The first thing she said to me when we met at the college was, “Mayor, I promised you I’d come back.”

Manier said he was already planning for a busy Aug. 13 with the Washington Fine Arts Festival and then the Washington Night at the Peoria Chiefs game, when someone from Palin’s office called his cellphone that Friday afternoon to see if he was interested in setting it up.

He let John Morris, director of development for the Ronald W. Reagan Leadership Program and Ronald Reagan Museum, know about the impending visit and Morris was put in contact with Palin’s staff.

“We only spent about 15 to 20 minutes with her at the museum ... we didn’t want to bother her,” Manier said of the visit once Palin arrived. “We were told to keep the whole thing very low key and not alert the press.”

Manier said the visit just shows the kind of integrity she has a politician and her wanting to make sure she knows about those who came before her.

“I just think it says something about her and her family — and her Christian beliefs are very strong,” he said. “To be around her family when very few other people are around, she has such a presence about her ... ”

Another Washington city official who was able to meet and greet with Palin and family was city council alderman Jim Gee.

Gee, who worked on the Alaskan pipeline for a few years in the 1970s, said seeing the Palins again was a great experience for him and his 20-year-old son Tyler.

“I thought it was pretty awesome that she has this much interest and respect for the Midwest and interest in Reagan and his life,” Gee said. “She appreciates Midwest values and sees what great people we have here. (Palin) said, ‘We’ve met so many great people who are committed to their community and united by strong values and love of country.’”

During the Palins’ visit to Washington in April of 2010, Sarah’s husband Todd told the Gees they would have to come up and visit sometime; the Gees took them up on the offer.

This summer, the two of them headed to Alaska for a vacation and made a stop in the Palins’ hometown of Wasilla to see if they were home. While Tyler and Jim were unable to connect with them in Wasilla, they headed home hoping to eventually see them somewhere along the tour.

What made the experience memorable for both the Gees and the Palins was the gift that Jim made for their family. It was a map of Alaska and the Alaskan pipeline made out of a piece of the actual Alaskan pipeline Jim brought home with him after working on it in the 70s. Jim and Tyler were able to give the gift to Sarah and Todd after their tour of the Reagan Museum.

“Sarah and Todd absolutely loved it; it was a huge hit with them,” Tyler said. “My dad told her the unique story behind it. I could tell that it meant a lot to her after hearing the story about it from my dad.

“Sarah was holding it and began talking about what the Trans-Alaska Pipeline meant to her, and how it is ever-so-important to Alaska and to the United States ... we had a very nice and memorable conversation with the Palins ...”

Manier said he is hoping that they decide to come back soon.

“I’ve made another offer for her to come back,” he said. “I’m sure they have our contact information.”