Candidates in area contested Primary races express views prior to June 5 election

Tuesday, June 5 will be the Primary Election to determine which candidates will be representing their respective political parties in the 2018 General Election in November of this year. A sample ballot of the respective races in each of the Republican, Democratic and Libertarian parties was published on Page 2B in the May 23 print edition and e-edition of The Standard, listing races at the federal, state and county levels for voters to make their selections in.

A listing of polling sites for all 11 of the County's precincts was also published in that May 23 issue on Page 2B. Election polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 9 p.m.

INFORMED CHOICES
In an effort to help inform voters prior to their venture to the polls June 5, The Standard issued a questionnaire to each of the candidates in the governmental leadership races being contested on this year’s Primary ballot. The series of questions asked and each candidate’s returned responses to those questions begins below and continues to additional pages inside this week’s issue.

The questionnaires were sent to candidates who are vying for a position that had more party candidates running for the position than the ballot instructions indicate to vote for. For example, there are two Democratic candidates for District 56 of the Iowa House of Representatives but the ballot instructs voters to vote for no more than one.

Lori Egan and Andy Kelleher are squaring off for that Democratic nomination, with no other candidates being listed for that District 56 seat and current Representative Kristi Hager not seeking re-election to that seat this year.

The exception to that issuance of the questionnaire is the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors race, where all ballots indicate to “Vote for no more than Two,” as two seats on the three-person board will be up for election in November’s General Election. The Republican ballot lists two candidates, Kristi Hager and incumbent Larry Schellhammer, both of whom are listed along with the traditional “Write-In” slots.

Incumbent Dan Byrnes is the only declared candidate listed in the Board of Supervisors race on the Democratic ballot. All three of the other County level races for Treasurer, Recorder or Attorney have only one candidate listed on this year’s Primary ballot, all of those being on the Republican ballot and including incumbent Lori Hesse for Treasurer, incumbent Debbie Winke for Recorder and Anthony Gericke for Allamakee County Attorney, who is currently serving as Assistant Allamakee County Attorney and is the lone declared candidate for that office since current Allamakee County Attorney Jill Kistler has opted not to seek re-election. All three of those lone remaining County level candidates are on the Republican ballot, with no candidates listed for those offices on any other ballot.

The only other contested race involving declared candidates on this year's Republican Primary Election ballot is for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, where incumbent Mike Naig is being challenged by Chad Ingels, Craig Lang, Dan Zumbach and Ray Gaesser. Those candidates were not issued candidate questionnaires by The Standard due to space considerations.

Republican candidates in uncontested races also listed on this year's Primary ballot beyond County level races include District 1 U.S. Representative incumbent Rod Blum and the State of Iowa races where incumbent candidates include Governor Kim Reynolds, Secretary of State Paul Pate and State Auditor Mary Mosiman.

At the State level, incumbents Tom Miller and Michael Fitzgerald are the only candidates listed on the Democratic ballot for Iowa Attorney General and Treasurer, respectively. Rob Sand and Tim Gannon are each listed on the Democratic ballot as lone candidates in the Auditor of State and Secretary of Agriculture races, respectively.

The Democrats also have two candidates listed on this year’s Primary ballot for Secretary of State, Deidre DeJear and Jim Mowrer. Those candidates were not issued candidate questionnaires by The Standard due to space considerations.

The race for Iowa Governor on the Democratic ballot is packed with six declared candidates, although Nate Boulton dropped out of that race late last week to narrow that group to just five Democratic candidates. Cathy Glasson, Fred Hubbell, Andy McGuire, John Norris and Ross Wilburn remain as the Democratic candidates.

Likewise, the Democratic race for U.S. House of Representatives District 1 has an abundance of candidates, including Abby Finkenauer, Thomas Heckroth, George Ramsey and Courtney Rowe.

This year’s Primary election also includes a ballot for the Libertarian Party. That ballot only has two candidates listed on the entire ballot, those being Marco Battaglia and Jake Porter for Iowa Governor.

ABSENTEE VOTING
Voters not able to go to the polls on the Tuesday, June 5 Election Day may vote absentee in person  at the Allamakee County Auditor’s Office through 4 p.m. Monday, June 4. Saturday, June 2 the Auditor’s Office in the Allamakee County Courthouse in Waukon will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for absentee voting. For the Primary Election, voters must declare either a Republican, Democratic or Libertarian party affiliation in order to vote.
 

Iowa Governor - Democrats

Please provide some background information about yourself.

Glasson: I grew up in Spencer in the northwest corner of Iowa. My father was a truck driver, and my mother worked at a Sears and Roebuck store, so I know what it means to come from a working-class family. They were lucky enough to live and work in a time when they could do those jobs and still send their two daughters to college.

I went on to become a registered nurse working in the medical intensive care unit, and while I was working as a nurse, I helped lead the efforts along with my fellow nurses to form our union. I was elected my local union’s president, and am serving in that capacity to this very day.

I’m not a millionaire, or a business person, or an attorney. Having raised my daughter as a single mother, I know what it’s like to have to save every penny. I have fought alongside my fellow brothers and sisters in the workforce to demand rights for working people. I have been on the frontlines with everyday Iowans standing up for themselves, for their families and for their livelihoods.

Hubbell: Throughout my life, I have always led with my progressive values to support and expand the opportunities of every Iowan to be successful. Throughout my public, private and non-profit sector work, I have delivered results by putting people first, and I will do the same as governor.

I have experience in Iowa managing complex budgets, including serving as Chairman of Younkers Department Stores in the 1980s and as President of Equitable of Iowa. Additionally, I have twice served the public, first, in 2007 when I was chair of the Iowa Power Fund, helping Iowa invest and become a leader in renewable energy, and secondly, in 2009, when Governor Culver brought me in to lead Iowa’s Department of Economic Development to help clean up the disastrous film tax scandal that was costing Iowa millions. I also helped identify $160 million annually in wasteful tax giveaways that as Governor I would work to eliminate and re-prioritize those resources to fully fund education and ensure quality, affordable health care.

Additionally, I’ve worked for over three decades as a progressive advocate. From serving as chair of Planned Parenthood of Mid-Iowa, serving on the Board at Mercy Medical Center, and helping support Broadlawns Medical Center expand their mental health services, I’ve worked to ensure Iowans in need get the quality, affordable and accessible health care they deserve. And by serving on the Iowa College Foundation Board and Simpson College Board, I worked to expand higher education opportunities to more Iowans.

McGuire: I was born and raised in Waterloo, the daughter of a World War II pilot and a hardworking mother, in a family of six kids. I’ve spent nearly my entire life in Iowa since, fighting to improve the lives of working families both as a doctor and former chair of the Iowa Democratic Party fighting for our values.
We have a healthcare system that doesn’t work, millions in taxpayer dollars going to large corporations that don’t create prosperity for Iowans, and communities in too many corners of our state that are falling behind. I’m going to use my experience as a doctor to fix our broken health care system so Iowa families can get the affordable and quality care they need, improve mental health services for residents in all parts of our state so we can save lives, and strengthen our small towns and rural communities so that our children are not forced to move away from the places they grew up.

Norris: I was raised on my family’s farm in Red Oak and have owned and run two small businesses in the state.  I was the State Director of the Iowa Farm Unity Coalition, Chief of Staff to Governor Vilsack here and at the USDA, Chairman of the Iowa Utilities Board, and U.S. Representative for Agriculture to the United Nations.
I was appointed by President Obama to the Federal Energy Commission to lead on renewable energy and battle climate change. I have experience cleaning up the first mess left by the Branstad administration and this one will be bigger than the last.

Wilburn: Throughout my life, I have been fortunate to live in Iowa and serve the people of Iowa. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the beautiful resources we have in Iowa (including its people) during my ride on RAGBRAI through Allamakee County. Now I want to help us become the state we know we can be, with opportunities to succeed economically, for better health and education and to lead the nation in quality of life.

I am the only Democratic candidate who has served in elected office with executive experience as a Mayor and 12-year City Councilmember. I have experiences in my professional life that directly relate to the issues impacting Iowans. I will reverse the privatization of Medicaid and work to put in place a comprehensive mental health care coordinated system of care for our youth. I will work to fund K-12 education so that it is our highest priority. When awarding tax incentives, I will make them focused on small to moderate-sized businesses, especially in smaller communities, in order to spread economic opportunities across the state, not just in the largest metropolitan areas.

I will support candidates in the legislature who will work to restore collective bargaining rights, invest in infrastructure like broadband and repairing bridges in rural Iowa, honor the Second Amendment and responsible gun ownership and safety, support local family farms and who recognize that we have to clean up Iowa’s waterways. I will invest in wind, solar and other clean energy initiatives and jobs. I will support policy that shows Iowa will lead as a welcoming and inclusive state like pushing Washington DC for comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship and eliminating human trafficking. Our message is simple: Let’s Be Iowa.

I am a former Mayor of Iowa City and served 12 years on the Iowa City Council. I served four years on the Iowa City Parks and Recreation Commission. I am currently working at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach as Diversity Advisor and Associate Director of Community Economic Development. We serve Iowans in all 99 counties.

As the former Equity Officer for the Iowa City Community School District, I investigated claims of bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination. I am the former Executive Director of the Crisis Center of Johnson County, where we provided telephone and walk-in counseling including suicide intervention and outreach, as well as a food bank. I was a Youth Worker and Social Worker at United Action for Youth in Iowa City providing youth development, counseling, juvenile justice diversion and substance abuse prevention services.

I also served in the Iowa Army National Guard 682nd Corps of Engineers, rank Staff Sergeant E6. I was designated as the Distinguished Honor Graduate in my Basic Non-Commissioned Officer Class (BNCOC).

Small, rural communities like those in northeast Iowa seem to be in a constant struggle to not just thrive, but even survive. What hope can you give to residents of these types of communities in the area you represent to want to remain here and live their lives?

Hubbell: For Iowa to be its best, all 99 counties must be supported with the resources they need to grow and be successful. Because Gov. Reynolds continues to severely underfund education, court systems, infrastructure and health care, rural Iowa has faced depopulation and stagnant economic growth that’s threatening its future.

As governor, I will prioritize investments in education, health care and job training opportunities for all Iowans, and make infrastructure investments across the state, including roads, bridges, affordable housing and high speed internet. I will also work to create a student debt relief program that incentivizes graduates to stay in Iowa and fill jobs in rural communities for five years after graduation.

Additionally, Iowa farmers deserve a governor who will stand up for their well-being. As the GOP trade war continues to threaten the well-being of our agriculture economy, with our livestock producers already taking a 400 million dollar loss, we cannot rely on people in Washington to ensure our trade markets. As governor, I would personally reach out to Iowa’s trade partners to establish stable, long-term, bilateral relationships that help secure the markets for Iowa goods for the long-term.

McGuire: We need a comprehensive approach that ensures we strengthen these communities so they have access to the qualities needed to make it possible for Iowans to live their entire lives wherever they wish. That means bringing more good jobs at good wages, safe and stable housing, ensuring quality schools with affordable higher education or vocational tech, and training residents with competitive job skills.

In many ways, these issues are all interrelated - if we invest in our schools to provide better education opportunity, then we can train Iowa workers to best fill the needs of companies that want to come here, raising wages and strengthening families in small towns. By prioritizing clean energy production, we can create good jobs at good wages throughout rural Iowa that will be sustainable for the future. By ending corporate tax breaks that do little to help Iowans, we can properly invest in fighting our mental health and substance abuse crises and create a healthier Iowa - I’ve released the most comprehensive plan to do so of any candidate. I will approach all of these issues together as governor to make sure we are lifting up all Iowans.

Norris: The two things I see as crucial to rural communities survival are good schools and good hospitals, both of which I see under attack in this administration.

We simply are not keeping up on state supplemental aid to our schools. The 1% allowable growth in this year’s budget hardly even keeps up with inflation, and unfortunately it hurts rural communities even more and in some cases forces more school consolidation.

The privatization of Medicaid is hurting hospitals across Iowa, but also disproportionately hurts rural hospitals. We are seeing an increase in denial of service, and more and more delays to providers. Community hospitals can’t carry on those losses month after month, and I worry about their viability under this system. On day one I would reverse the privatization of Medicaid.

I would also leverage our ICN’s fiber optic network for high speed broadband service throughout Iowa so rural communities and farmers have access. I would target growth in our sustainable and diversified farming operations. I would make our state more welcoming to new immigrants and recognize that providing them opportunities also provides opportunity to grow our rural communities. We should capitalize on our wind farms and leverage the increased property tax revenue for rural investment.

Wilburn: First, we have to think outside of the usual arguments about the size of government. It’s not about the size of government, big or small, it can be about an effective size of government with targeted tax incentives to grow our economy and provide smaller to medium-size business opportunities, and that by spreading investments in communities around the state, the end result will be to strengthen the rest of Iowa.

Regardless of diverse backgrounds, we can create a sense of belonging and of opportunity and regardless of where you live, so you don’t feel that you have to move to the large cities in order to make a living. When I served as mayor and a council member, we maintained an Aaa bond rating, the highest cities can achieve. We achieved the top bond or credit rating by multi-year budgeting, assuring a return on our investments of tax incentives, investing in new facilities and routine maintenance of infrastructure. We did all of this while also investing in private public partnerships that provided services to youth and senior organizations, needed infrastructure, but also public amenities like parks and community celebrations. We can do the same with planning and coordination at the State level over the next several elections if we put people into office that can re-imagine the services that Iowans want and that we know will support communities all over Iowa.

Glasson: We know that what helps our small, rural communities thrive is having a strong economy. That means investing in the infrastructure to support them - strong roads and bridges, and high-speed internet. We also know that it’s not tax incentives that drive businesses to come to our communities and stay, but communities that have good schools, that have parks and attractions, that have quality health care readily available that attract them. That’s why I support a 6% increase in K-12 public education funding, so all our schools in all our communities have the funding they need to be the best schools.

I’m also the only candidate who has been calling for universal single-payer healthcare since day one of this campaign. Under a single-payer system, all providers would be reimbursed for their services, and so providers would be able to afford setting up in our more rural communities. And, if we raise the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour, people would have more money to spend, and we know that when that happens, they spend that money in their local communities.

What do you feel are the most troubling challenges facing our state, and what does your candidacy offer in addressing those challenges?

McGuire: It is absolutely critical that we fix our broken health care system and end our mental health and substance abuse crises. The lives of too many Iowans depend on it. As a doctor and former chief medical officer who’s worked everywhere from a Veterans Hospital to cutting edge medical research, I’ve seen first-hand the problems in our healthcare system and have the experience needed to chart a new path. I’ve released a seven-point plan to put us on the path toward making sure no Iowan suffers from mental health or substance abuse without receiving the support needed to defeat their illness ever again.

Norris: I think the linchpin in so many of our issues is addressing the cycle of poverty that exists in Iowa for so many families. I will focus on policies that improve economic opportunity and quality of life for all Iowans.

We need to expand learning opportunities and equip our public schools with the resources and tools necessary for all students to succeed. We need better funding for public education at all levels and to ensure that teachers, who are on the front lines with our young people and the future of our state, are supported in every way possible. Iowa employers are struggling to hire skilled workers. We need to invest in a public education system that addresses that need and offers trade and apprenticeship programs.

Wilburn: Two issues that Iowans have made clear on the campaign trail are related to mental health care and K-12 education, regardless of political party or side of the state.
On Mental Health Care: As a state, we will pay for mental health issues one way or another; proactively and in a planned way with a comprehensive mental health care system of prevention, intervention, treatment and education; or with increasing numbers of tragic deaths and suicides, or with an overburdened criminal justice system and untapped potential in our young people. I support lifting the cap on the mental health property levy for counties.

I support reversing privatized Medicaid, which isn’t producing the tax saving or coordinated necessary care. Privatized Medicaid has failed because providers are not being reimbursed for the costs of operations and its system of managing care to help control costs doesn’t recognize that many of the people who receive treatment will need years of treatment. Iowans will support State resources towards improving mental health care because mental illness impacts most Iowans. Iowans are willing to support their family, friends and neighbors and increase their potential to live healthy lives and potential to thrive in our communities

On K-12 Education: I have not only observed the K-12 public education system in Iowa from the outside, I viewed it from within our schools through the lens of a student, a parent, an employee and a community partner. Gathering perspectives from past roles has helped me experience the strengths and challenges of Iowa’s public schools.

More importantly, hearing from Iowans has helped me see your vision for Iowa’s future.

We can elect a legislature and governor who support using public dollars for public education. By doing so, we can support:

• Prompt, dependable public funding for public schools
• Increases in teaching and learning, decreases in mandatory testing
•Growth-based accountability using a variety of measures and methods
• Access to on-site physical and mental health services for children
• Quality before and after school programs
• Curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular options which build the 21st Century Skills of collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and communication
• Class sizes which promote relationships and rigor
• Environments which celebrate diversity
• Restoration of Collective Bargaining Rights
• Pride in Iowa’s public schools.

We may look at education from a variety of perspectives. However, we cannot lose sight of that child, that teacher, that future, that Iowa, and I will honor that if I am elected to serve.

Glasson: We have 381,000 households who can’t make ends meet each month - even though many of them are working two and three jobs. That’s because two-thirds of the jobs in this state pay less than $20 an hour, and half of those pay less than $15. We haven’t raised the minimum wage in Iowa in nearly a decade, and yet the cost of living has gone up. On my first day in office, I will call on the legislature to raise the wage to $15 an hour. The raise will kick in over a three-year period, and it will be indexed to inflation moving forward so we don’t have to continue to have this fight.

Part of the reason Iowans haven’t seen a raise in so long is because of the constant attacks on unions. I think reversing the damages done to collective bargaining last session is a good place to start, but we need to go further. I’m committed to finding new ways to make it easier for workers to join in a union or an employee association no matter where they work because we know that unions are the only way working people in this country have ever gotten ahead. I’m also committed to reversing Iowa’s misleadingly-named Right to Work laws, and I would challenge all Democratic candidates to stand up and do the same.

Healthcare is one of the biggest challenges facing Iowans. I hear it everywhere I go as I travel the state - people don’t have good healthcare. We’re paying too high a price for too little care. I’m the only candidate for governor who came out from the very beginning of my campaign running on universal single-payer healthcare.

In our current system, decisions about care are being made by insurance companies instead of doctors because they are more concerned about making money for their shareholders than they are about everyday Iowans. We need to get the for-profit insurance companies out of the mix so that every Iowan gets the care they need when they need it, and they don’t have to worry about how they’re going to pay the bill - and that plan includes mental health services and women’s reproductive services. Because, as a registered nurse, I know that healthcare is a fundamental human right. Everybody in, nobody out. Iowa can lead the way.

Hubbell: Our state keeps reducing the opportunities of Iowans to be successful, because it is not putting people first. We need to restore fiscal responsibility in order to invest in priorities like education, job training and health care to get Iowa growing long-term. Gov. Reynolds’ fiscal mismanagement and misguided priorities have taken an almost billion dollar surplus four years ago to $144 million in debt while underfunding schools and reducing access to quality health care for more than 50,000 Iowans.

I would put people first by ending the shortsighted, wasteful corporate giveaways that cost our state millions. In 2010, I helped identify over $160 million in wasteful tax giveaways that weren’t creating adequate value for Iowans. We should follow those recommendations, while also putting caps and sunsets on every existing tax credit, exemption and deduction; many of which are uncapped and grow substantially every year with no review.

As governor, I would instead use that money to fully fund universal pre-K and K-12, reverse the disastrous privatization of Medicaid and restore funding for Planned Parenthood, and expand local infrastructure like high-speed broadband and housing. By investing in the success of every Iowan, we can get our state growing the right way.
 

District 56 Iowa House of Representatives - Democrats

1) Please provide some background information about yourself.

Egan: I am a lifelong resident of Allamakee County. My husband Mark and I raised three children: Kaila, Colin and Brett. I am in my 31st year of nursing. I feel the profession of nursing chose me as a calling to serve others. I’m a lifelong learner who went back to get my bachelor’s degree after having three kids while working full-time. I have worked in hospitals, clinics, public health and long-term care.

I have been an active member of my community. My husband and I were in the core group of individuals to work on the wooden playground in the Waukon City Park, we were St. Patrick’s School Parents-In-Action members, Waukon Jaycees, and did serve a three-year term, the last as presidents, on the Allamakee Athletic Booster Club Board of Directors. I have served as a former 4-H leader and taught religious formation classes.

Currently, I serve as a Red Cross volunteer, a member of the board of HAWC Partnerships for Children, and serve on the Northeast Iowa Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse. I was involved in the initial implementation of the Food & Fitness Funding.

Kelleher: I live in New Albin; my family moved here in the 1990s when I was young, and I’ve been a resident ever since. My grandfather grew up in this area, so I can almost guarantee that I’m related to just about anyone named “Kelleher” (as well as plenty of people who have married into other names).

After graduating from Kee High School in Lansing, I spent years working with Christian organizations. I served on the staff at Village Creek Bible Camp for over half a decade, ending my time there as the lead programmer. I also assisted groups in creating new college ministries and developing new church congregations.

I currently serve on the New Albin Public Library Board. I also volunteer every Wednesday with my church’s youth group. While I’m not a member of many of the local organizations, I always try to help out at their events, whether it’s building a playground, planting trees, cleaning the river, or distributing food to people in need.

2) Small, rural communities like those in northeast Iowa seem to be in a constant struggle to not just thrive, but even survive. What hope can you give to residents of these types of communities in your district to want to remain here and live their lives?

Kelleher: Our area has so much to offer residents. Our quality of life is second to none. The safety, community and tranquility you find here is exclusive to small towns. Our natural areas are phenomenal; we have great waterways and parks, and you could spend days getting out and exploring. If we want to survive, we need to bring in new people and fresh economic growth.

So rather than considering leaving the area, try to see who you can entice to be your neighbor. If we bring in new families, those families start spending money in our communities. That allows businesses to expand, which allows more families to come. The children in those families can boost school attendance. It’s a wonderfully interconnected cycle, but we need to get the ball rolling. Rural Iowa does struggle, yet we can save our home if we do everything possible to stimulate population growth and economic development.

Egan: It is imperative that we keep our youth here and attract new workers to our rural life. It is encouraging to learn from Ben Winchester, University of Minnesota Extension, that our rural population is growing in the 30-54 year old age group. People are moving into rural areas because we offer a great quality of life, simpler pace of life, increased safety and security, and lower housing costs.

If rural Iowa wants to entice new employers, supports need to be in place to allow for success for small business owners. When offering tax credits, we must prioritize small- to medium-sized businesses in rural communities, and they must be willing to invest in those communities by offering good-paying jobs with benefits. Rural towns can generate new revenue from increased population growth when homes are purchased. Legislation can address improved access to broadband internet services, which would allow more individuals to consider residing in a rural community.

Housing is a priority. We need people to fill the skilled workforce and other jobs that are already available. Employers are saying they need a skilled workforce. So we need to make sure there is sufficient affordable housing for the skilled workforce to buy, rent-to-own, or rent. The State can do a better job to ensure that there are funding streams for affordable housing. The State must generate enough revenue to address the priorities of the rural residents of the state. As a legislator, I will support improving our utilization of current  funding streams for addressing housing projects. I think we need to start thinking outside the box for ways to address our housing needs in rural Iowa. We need to look at offering free lots in rural towns for people who want to build. We also need to find ways to expand the lease-to-purchase programs for lower income individuals and families once more houses are available to purchase.

We must also recognize the need for additional high quality early childhood day care. Since the majority of our families have one or both parents working, we can ensure that our children are receiving excellent day care from trained early childhood professionals and that this service is available and affordable in our rural communities.

3) What do you feel are the most troubling challenges facing our state, and what does your candidacy offer in addressing those challenges?

Egan: We need fiscal responsibility and policies that will address the issues rural Iowans are facing. I will work to ensure that taxpayers’ dollars are invested wisely to improve the well-being of all Iowans. In a time when our non-agricultural economy is more stable than in previous years, we should be investing in our infrastructure, which will create more jobs in order to improve our roads, bridges and other public services.

Kelleher: Well, for starters, my focus is on Allamakee and Clayton Counties, not the entire state. While some of our challenges may overlap, there are many problems facing District 56 that the rest of the state doesn’t have to deal with. I’ve been watching my home begin to evaporate around me, and I desperately don’t want to see my home die. The most alarming problem is the declining population.

Other key issues are rural education funding, infrastructure that’s aging into obsolescence, economic growth that is stagnant, and a severe lack of mental health facilities. These are the core issues of my campaign, but they are also addressed in future questions. Population growth and economic development are discussed in Question #5. Education funding is discussed in Question #6. Infrastructure is discussed in Question #7. And mental health is discussed in Question #4.

If I had to boil my entire campaign down to one sentence, it would be, “I want to find ways to bring more money to small towns and small schools in order to boost population growth and economic development.”

4) What do you consider to be the strengths and weaknesses of this state’s health care system, and what do you think can be done to improve any weaknesses?

Kelleher: The biggest strength that I’ve noticed is that every local clinic I’ve come across has been incredibly healthy. It doesn’t matter if they’re an independent clinic or part of a larger network, they all have solid financial foundations; in fact, one doctor told me that her clinic was used as an example to the rest of the network as the best way to run a rural clinic.

The biggest weaknesses are Medicaid and mental health. The privatization of Medicaid has led to a backlog of payment claims, and providers are either being reimbursed months after the fact or not at all. This hurts all levels of care. Hospitals and doctors are stretched thin while trying to provide proper care to communities. Some smaller practices, like dental clinics, have stopped accepting Medicaid due to the fact that they weren’t being paid. And organizations that help those with mental disabilities, such as TASC and MOSAIC, are being hit hard. Such groups receive over 90% of their funding through Medicaid.

In addition, the MCOs are also the ones who get to decide how much care a client needs; when a case manager hardly knows a client, the level of care they need tends to be nowhere near the level of care they receive funding for. In order to fix this, the common idea is to simply reverse the privatization of Medicaid.

I do wonder if there is a third option that no one is discussing; if we could stop politicizing the issue and agree that there’s a problem, we could come to a much better solution than just “Give it back to the State.” While a state-run system would be better, I don’t really want to play a game of “good enough” with our health care.

Mental health is sorely in need of attention. There’s a lack of insurance coverage for mental health issues, as well as an alarming lack of facilities for patients to visit. A hospital administrator shared stories with me of people who have intentionally harmed themselves in front of hospital staff just so they could be guaranteed a bed.

Constituents have shared stories of how much they struggled to get care for their family members.

Mental health is as real as any other medical problem and should be treated as such. The State Assembly took a massive bipartisan step this session when they passed sweeping mental health reform, but that was a baby step. We need to keep addressing it until we have a robust system as healthy and convenient as our local clinics.

Egan: As a nurse for the past 31 years, I have seen many changes in our healthcare system. Honestly, we can do much better for the residents of Iowa. My first priority is to help reverse the privatization of Medicaid, which impacts our vulnerable population who may be elderly, differently-abled or facing mental health issues. Local hospitals, clinics and providers of services for the developmentally challenged, such as TASC, are losing thousands of dollars per month because of denied claims from privately run Medicaid insurance.

It has never made sense to me how the change to privatized Medicaid was going to save the State money when we went from one source of managing healthcare coverage  through Iowa Medicaid Enterprise to three private insurance companies. There were initial reports of an immediate increase in the administration costs from 4% to 12%. We saw the loss of County caseworkers who knew the people they were serving. Instead, a private company with caseworkers from another state or, if we were lucky, case workers in Des Moines determined which services were provided to our local residents needing services.

I believe improving the health of all Iowans must be a priority for our State government. Without good health, we cannot be productive members of our society. The old saying still works, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

5) What do you feel are the most effective strategies to promote economic growth in our state?

Egan: Investing in infrastructure and renewable energy is going to continue to offer our state viable options for economic growth. We must first invest in our educational system to ensure we have an educated workforce to fill those jobs.

Another way to improve our economic growth is to invest in our broadband technology to make our rural communities more appealing to individuals who can telecommute for their jobs. People are looking for communities that are going to offer them an improved quality of life, which rural Iowa has those opportunities in abundance.

Kelleher: On the surface level, offering local incentive packages to new businesses would be a great way to spur a little economic growth. However, the biggest problem facing rural businesses is a lack of workers. We have businesses who are struggling to meet their worker needs right now, and many who want to expand but can’t without enough workers. According to those businesses, the biggest reasons that workers aren’t coming to our area are a lack of child care, a perceived lack of things to do and a lack of ideal housing.

Child care is huge, because if someone wants to work while also having a family, they need somewhere to send their kids during the day. School preschool programs are underfunded, and a lot of towns only have a couple of daycare providers. With preschool funding, we can look at increasing those dollars so that the programs are funded for more than two days a week. With private childcare, we can always look at ways to incentivize people who get licensed, as well as offering more aid for healthy food and activities. But what we really need is willing providers, and I can’t make a law that forces someone to offer childcare.

I think we need to attack the idea that there’s nothing to do here; with all of our waterways and parks, there’s always something new to discover. The State doesn’t directly offer any tourism development funds; the only way to receive tourism money is through County budgets or through grants (many of which require you to match funds).

But we could revitalize our area if we had the means to advertise ourselves.

I’ve been attending the Allamakee County Housing Study Task Force meetings since they began in September, and the housing needs are vast and diverse. The key things we need are affordable housing and rentals. To assist the housing problem, we need to work with developers and make it economically feasible to work and build here, potentially through credits that they could use for future development. It’s incredibly difficult to build a house valued under $50,000, but that’s where our biggest need is.

If we offer more childcare, advertise our recreation and develop our housing, we can bring in a flood of new workers who can eliminate our worker shortage and kickstart the growth our businesses already want to have.

6) What do you see as this state’s greatest issue in education and preparing its youth for today’s world?

Kelleher: Looking at the entire state, I’d say the continued funding cuts to our universities is the biggest issue. Funding cuts means that the average tuition costs will increase, which adds another barrier for lower income families who want to send their children to college. If we want our youth to be successful in the future, we need to make universities accessible to them.

Focusing on District 56, our biggest issue by far is rural school funding. Many of the funding problems for schools come down to declining enrollment, which leads to less money from the State. This is actually the issue that made me want to run for office in the first place; my old high school, Kee High, has been suffering from declining enrollment for years, and I never want to see the day when it would have to close.

At the State level, we need to do everything we can to make sure rural schools get equitable funding, despite a lack of population. According to the area superintendents, the biggest ways to tackle this are through continuing or improving transportation equity, operational sharing incentives and the SAVE fund. I will continue to listen to school leaders in order to be a fierce champion for rural schools. However, funding solutions are only addressing a symptom; the declining enrollment is the true problem we need to solve.

Egan: Iowa must address the disparity in funding between urban and rural school districts. For years, rural districts have had to stretch their dollar much farther than urban districts due to allocating thousands of dollars in extra transportation costs. Legislation needs to include a continuous stream of funding to rural schools to address their transportation needs.

I would also support funding that provides juniors and seniors in high school with on-the-job learning opportunities such as apprenticeships. This would allow them to learn about jobs we have in rural Iowa so that they know there are career opportunities available. These programs would also educate students about what additional continuing education they may need, whether it be at a two- or four-year program. To ensure we have a qualified workforce, Iowa must prioritize funding community colleges, because we need young people to fill the trade jobs in the next 15 to 20 years in our rural communities.

7) What solutions do you have for addressing the aging infrastructure throughout this state?

Egan: I believe taxpayer dollars should be invested in our teachers, nurses, police and construction workers in order to build vital infrastructure - all of which will benefit everyone in our state, including those in farming, manufacturing and other service sectors. The goal of the state is to collectively raise the necessary funds to make the essential investments in Iowa’s future. We are all in this together. My hope is to retain as many young Iowans to live and flourish in Iowa’s future. We must keep them in Iowa to increase economic growth for everyone.

Again, I must emphasize the need to build a high-speed, high-quality internet and cell coverage over the whole state - especially in the more rural regions. This is the infrastructure of the future for now and future Iowa workers. For just one example, the many people who are employed to do medical coding from home. Broadband would attract workers to our rural communities and let them remain in the smaller communities they want to live in but remain connected to larger communities.

Kelleher: I have a couple ideas for this. The first has to do with grants. Currently, most grants are funded by one pool of money. Even if there are tiers dictating how much money a certain city can receive, the money itself is still up for grabs by any city in the state. Oftentimes, the larger cities take all the grant money before smaller cities have a chance to get any.

I suggest that we separate the grant money into designated grants for specific population sizes. If we only allow towns with low populations to access a grant, then we can guarantee that small towns will receive that money. With many of our communities looking at large repairs, like sewer plant replacements, we need to ensure that they can receive the financial aid they need.

The other idea is with the Department of Transportation (DOT) road-use dollars. A lot of road repair happens in cities, which leaves rural areas in the lurch. One mayor shared a story about a ten-mile section of road that was supposed to be repaired; the DOT ended up patching a half-mile section in the middle, since that was all they could afford. But District 56 is filled with thousands of bridges, all of which are near the end of their certified lifespans. The bridges are vital to our highway network, and we need to ensure that the DOT starts investing in our roads while they are still drivable.
 

Allamakee County Board of Supervisors - Republicans

Please provide some background information about yourself.

Hager: I was born and raised in Waukon and have been married for 33 years to Bob Hager. We have three  children, Aubree (Chris Peterman), Alyssa and Alaina, and two grandchildren, Kaden and Kinley.
I have been involved in various organizations in my community/church and am currently Chair of the Allamakee Republican Central Committee. I also currently serve as a State Representative for District 56 of the Iowa House.

Schellhammer: I’m currently serving on the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors. My wife, Cindy, and I  have two adult children, John of rural Lansing and Leah of Cedar Falls.

I’ve been a dairy farmer in Allamakee County since 1977 and am currently in a farming partnership with my son, John. My wife and I are members of Iron Ridge Church in Waukon, where we are part of the Worship and Leadership Teams.

What motivated you to seek a seat on the County Board of Supervisors?

Schellhammer: Helping people has always been my motivation. In my years of service I have identified areas that I may have an impact on and will strive to provide the same level of attention to issues affecting Allamakee County.

Hager: When I was asked to run for State Representative, I agreed to serve the two years and, if I was to run again, I knew it would become clear. What became clear was to run for one of the Supervisor seats.

While a Representative, one of the committees I requested was Local Government. The roll of local government and the importance of being close to the people and the issues impacting them is essential. I also know with the enhanced knowledge of local governance this will only help should I plan for a future opportunity to serve at the State level.

As a candidate for Supervisor, what do you feel would be your ultimate responsibility to the citizens of the county, if elected?

Hager: I believe my responsibility will be helping to guide the direction of our community - in part, through the updating of our Comprehensive Plan - reflecting a vision that brings forward a culture of life. You will hear more about my vision of “Cultivating Communities” as I campaign.

Schellhammer: I have always felt that my responsibility to the people of Allamakee County is to provide a listening ear and a link to county government. It is important to me to provide positive leadership and a politically neutral environment. I have found that much more is accomplished when people work together for a common goal.

If elected, what would be your issues of highest priority in helping direct county government?

Schellhammer: My highest priority is to continue to work with other members of the board and County employees in the provision of County services that our Allamakee taxpayers expect. I also feel it is important that I continue to be an advocate for our County in the various regional committees on which I serve. I also feel it is imperative that we as County Supervisors remain a voice to our State legislators on issues directly impacting Allamakee County.

Hager: The answer to this question may be a little different as it is a personal issue. I know it will take time to learn how the local governance works just as it did to learn the who, what, where, when, how and why of working within the State Governmental System. However, I am not one to shy away from a challenge but tend to put my heart into it.

I am not afraid to ask questions, am a good listener and try to be respectful of all people. I believe, should I be fortunate enough to serve as Supervisor, I will help foster this vision of “Cultivating Communities” and embrace the diversity of what our county is. We live in a beautiful part of the state and we have a lot to showcase.

What are the current issues, good and bad, that you see facing Allamakee County, and what does your candidacy offer in addressing those issues?

Hager: The impact of mental health in our community and the need for local services; Harmonizing our agricultural community with increased business and tourism; Retention of our youth and skilled workforce. I have ideas for all of these.

Schellhammer: Some of these issues are: building and maintaining our tax base, continuing maintenance and improvement of our roads and bridges, and continuing to provide services at the county level rather than regionalization. I plan to continue to build relationships with our employers and manufacturers in an effort to understand the challenges and successes they experience. I will continue to work to give Allamakee County every opportunity to grow and move forward.
 

Iowa Governor - Libertarians

Please provide some background information about yourself.

Battaglia: I was born, raised and educated in Iowa. I graduated from Hoover High School and The University of Northern Iowa. I earned a bachelor’s degree in Communications and also studied Political Science and the Italian language.

I am a journalist and a radio DJ. I am a jack of all trades, having professional experience in banking, insurance and home mortgage. I have one child in elementary school and I own an acreage on the south side of Des Moines. My father grew up on a farm just across the border in Minnesota and my mother immigrated here from Italy with her family when she was a toddler.

I have been an active member of the state and national Libertarian Party for five years. I was a nominating delegate to the last national convention and I have worked for a number of state and national political campaigns. I announced my campaign in the Iowa Press and within an Iowa State Fair Straw Poll, received the first-ever Libertarian Party vote for the state of Iowa.

Porter: I grew up on the Missouri/Iowa border and graduated from high school at Lineville-Clio Community School, which unfortunately had to consolidate and close within the last decade. I have a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from AIB College of Business and today I work as a business consultant in Council Bluffs.

Small, rural communities like those in northeast Iowa seem to be in a constant struggle to not just thrive, but even survive. What hope can you give to residents of these types of communities in the area you represent to want to remain here and live their lives?

Porter: Rural communities are dying across Iowa. In the last census, 70 of 99 counties lost population. There are several factors causing this decline. I believe that rural communities should decide what is best for them.

We must realize there are major economic differences between rural and urban Iowa and we should not have policies that harm rural Iowa, such as having the State set a local minimum wage higher or lower than the local community has decided or higher than the local economy can support.   If the State makes a promise to backfill local communities funding from state tax credits then the State should keep that promise.

Battaglia: I want to reduce the tax burden for all Iowans, but I feel that this will be felt dramatically in our smaller communities. My tax plan simplifies the tax code and works to phase out the income tax entirely.

I want to foster competition through ending certificates of need, through occupational licensing reform, and by allowing for hemp, cannabis and raw dairy freedom. I believe that freer agricultural and medical markets will do wonders for all Iowans, but especially rural Iowans. I want to see a chance for more varied fruits and vegetables, more cold weather crops, perennials and cover crops to compete.

What do you feel are the most troubling challenges facing our state, and what does your candidacy offer in addressing those challenges?

Battaglia: Mental health, water and soil quality, and the suicide rates. My platform restores and expands on mental health funding and access. I want to see the Club House Model funded directly and transparently all over the state of Iowa.

I can work with Democrats and Republicans to champion hemp freedom and the nutrient reduction strategy. Reining in the war on drugs will do wonders for the opioid, alcohol and meth addictions, as well as to our suicide rates, in addition it’s just plain the right and the scientific thing to do. Locking people up for treating themselves medicinally is immoral and exacerbates many of our problems.

Porter: We have big business making regulations and getting millions in corporate welfare. That needs to end. We have a problem with overcrowding in prisons.  We need to treat substance abuse as a mental health issue and stop prosecuting victimless crimes such as marijuana possession and leave room in our jails and prisons for people that have harmed others. We should greatly decrease taxes on the poorest Iowans and give rural Iowa more local control on things such as education.
 

District 1 U.S. Representative - Democrats

Please provide some background information about yourself.

Finkenauer: In 2014, I was elected to represent Dubuque in the Iowa Legislature. I’ve been a staunch defender of working families and a vocal advocate for women. As government and policy decisions have made it more difficult each year for working Iowans to get ahead, I’ve been on the frontlines fighting back and making sure hardworking Iowans have a voice and a vote.

I grew up in a working class family in Dubuque County. My father was a union pipefitter welder and my mother worked for the Dubuque Community Schools. I learned the value of public service and giving back to the community from her family, particularly from my grandfather who was a Lieutenant in the Dubuque Fire Department. My family taught me that when there is work to be done or a problem to solve you say “yes.”

I’m the youngest of four siblings, all first-generation college graduates. I chose to stay in Iowa for college, earning my degree from Drake University, and although I still have over $15,000 in student loan debt, I’m committed to making our state a place where people of all ages can work hard, get a good education, and have a good life.

Heckroth: I’m a sixth-generation Iowan. I grew up in Waverly, and I graduated from the University of Iowa. I have deep roots in this district and the experience to be an effective representative for its people.

I’ve worked in the federal government to get things done and in the private sector as a corporate reformer. These experiences uniquely qualify me to be a strong and effective representative for the First District.

I worked with Senator Harkin on agriculture, labor and education issues - including helping him with the 2008 Farm Bill. He taught me that being an effective representative means showing up, listening to constituents, and then working as hard as you can for them. After working with Senator Harkin, I joined the Obama Administration’s Department of Labor, where I worked to hold our trading partners accountable and level the playing field for American workers.

I took the lessons learned in these positions to the private sector, as the director of Sustainable Manufacturing and Sourcing for a children’s clothing company - showing  that profits don’t have to come at the expense of people or the environment. These unique experiences are essential to getting things done and bringing real change to this District.

Ramsey: I am a retired U.S. Army Combat Veteran and currently work as a Nonprofit Executive, serving as a Talent Management Officer. I have a BPA in Public Administration from Park University and an MA in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University.

My wife and I live in Marion and we have two children: Julian, age 27, who is an Army Combat Veteran and a Police Officer in Texas; and Kira, age 20, who is a third-year college scholar-athlete.

Rowe: I live in Cedar Rapids, where I have worked  as an aerospace engineer. My wife works at a local hospital as a chaplain in the chemical dependency and behavioral health units. We have both spent much of our free time volunteering within the community and our church, with a focus on STEM education and LGBT rights.

Small, rural communities like those in northeast Iowa seem to be in a constant struggle to not just thrive, but even survive. What hope can you give to residents of these types of communities in the area you represent to want to remain here and live their lives?

Heckroth: This is exactly why I decided to run - because communities like my hometown of Waverly are being left behind by our current representation in Washington. We need to invest in people, ideas and infrastructure to create economic opportunity in communities across the First District, not just in the urban areas and not just for those at the top.

My top priority is bringing greater economic opportunity to the First District. We can’t do that unless we invest in people and infrastructure to bring new businesses and industries into these communities and support policies that strengthen our ag economy.

When I worked for Senator Harkin, I had the privilege to help him with the 2008 Farm Bill, which received more votes than any Farm Bill since 1973. I hope to have the opportunity to work with other members of Congress to write a Farm Bill that includes a strong safety net for farmers, supports working families and provides adequate funding for conservation programs. I believe we also need to strengthen our partnership with the USDA to build and rebuild infrastructure in rural parts of our state, including sewers and roads.

Part of creating long-term economic opportunity is also making a real commitment to ending our reliance on fossil fuels by investing in renewable energy research and development. Iowa is already a leader in renewable energy and we can continue to lead on this issue, while creating the jobs and industries of tomorrow right here in the First District. I also believe we need to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour and ensure that anyone working 40 hours per week is able to earn enough to raise a family.

Ramsey: It’s time we invest in all Iowans. That means we invest in the infrastructure of rural communities by making investments in education, healthcare, family farms, and the economic stability of rural communities across Iowa. We need a policy that supports entrepreneurship, and that is not solely focused on lumping all resources into federal agriculture policies. We need a policy that invests in families, reduces poverty and gives Iowans a reason to stay in rural communities.

Rowe: I have developed a small business development plan, called the Main Street Market, that would make it easier to raise capital to start small businesses. I also support Improved Medicare for All, which would make healthcare more affordable for small businesses, and for rural churches who are having to close down because they cannot afford health insurance for their ministers.

I also support the Farming Justice Movement, which promotes environmentally sustainable family farms, and bringing back the crop price floor, to make sure farmers can make a living wage doing things the right way.

Finkenauer: Growing up in rural Iowa, I understand personally that our agricultural community is critically important to eastern Iowa, with farmers comprising the backbone of our families and towns. I will always work to strengthen family farms because doing so is not only important to our economy, but to the traditions and way of life for countless working families in our state.

This starts with ensuring the farm bill considered in Congress every four years is based on sound policy designed to help farmers, rather than being subject to partisan political games as has too often happened in recent versions. It means fighting to give farmers access to the capital they need to grow and thrive, as modern farm equipment does not come cheaply. And it means making sure federal farm subsidies go to support family farms rather than huge corporate entities, and that federal programs like crop insurance programs that protect farmers are defended.

We can also work to lift up our rural economy by fostering good jobs and ensuring workers are trained with the skills needed to fill them. Our clean energy economy provides enormous opportunity for our rural communities and it already supports over 30,000 jobs statewide. I will make it a priority to support policies that continue this growth and preserve our status as a national leader in clean energy production, while at the same time strengthening our renewable energy manufacturing sector to create even more good jobs at good wages for eastern Iowans.

By fostering good jobs, we maintain strong families and strong communities, and these goals must always be a priority in Washington.

What do you feel are the most troubling challenges facing our nation, and what does your candidacy offer in addressing those challenges?

Ramsey: Leadership. Congress must get to work for the benefit of the people we serve. My platform is focused on Service and Leadership. We need leaders who are bold and courageous enough to challenge the policies and laws that infringe upon civil liberties of America’s citizens.

I have devoted my life’s work to working on the frontlines to help children and families overcome many of the systemic issues, like poverty and the access to a quality education for our children. I’m focused on servant-first leadership, which means we choose to serve first.

Rowe: Wealth inequality is holding back our economy. We have an economic demand problem, especially among millennials who are either making near the minimum wage or are buried under huge amounts of student loan debt. We need to ensure people have the tools they need to be successful, and to help drive our economy.

My platform is centered around helping each person become their best most productive self. I support a $15 minimum wage phased in over three years, with small business one six-month cycle behind large companies. I also support tuition-free public college and trade school to ensure everyone has the tools they need to be successful, and the refinancing of student loan debt to help those who have already graduated afford homes and cars.

People will ask “How are you going to pay for this?”  The reality is we already spent way more than this with the latest tax cut, which will have less of a positive economic impact than these changes. We have the money for the things we need. We just need to kick out the lobbyists who are profiting off of our broken system.

Finkenauer: Restoring the middle class is one of the biggest challenges our country is facing. Iowans are working harder than ever but wages have grown too slowly over the last decade. Women still earn less than their male counterparts and parents too often have to choose between a paycheck or staying home with their newborn.

Washington politicians continue to side with corporations and the wealthy over hard-working Americans. And the damage is clear: wages are lower, union membership is down, and the middle class is shrinking.

It’s time for everyday Iowans to have a voice in Washington. I’ll prioritize expanding economic opportunity and security so that families can thrive right here in eastern Iowa. In Congress, I will fight for equal pay, the unions that support our families, and a fair, living wage for every hard-working American.

Heckroth: The biggest challenge facing our nation right now is that working families are being left behind, while Congress is focused on helping big businesses and the wealthiest Americans get even further ahead. We need to level the playing field and focus on ideas and policies that support working families like those in Waukon. The recent tax reform efforts are a perfect example of this - Congress made tax breaks for those at the top permanent, while setting an expiration date on tax cuts for working families. That’s how unbalanced our priorities are today and we have to change that.

What do you consider to be the strengths and weaknesses of this nation’s health care system, and what do you think can be done to improve any weaknesses?

Rowe: We are the only modern country that has private insurance companies providing necessary medical insurance, and the only country who can not negotiate with pharmaceutical companies on prices for critical medications. Every other country has a single-payer base system. The health insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies bribe both parties through campaign financing to keep us from making progress on this issue. They reap the profits while Americans spend two to four times more than other countries for less coverage.

I committed from the beginning of this campaign to not take any PAC money, to ensure I was free from corruption to fix this problem. As a cancer survivor I know how broken our system is. I had the best plan at a large company, and I still almost died waiting for insurance approval of necessary procedures, and almost went bankrupt paying for medical care. If an aerospace engineer at a large corporation with the best private insurance available is going broke in this system, there’s a problem.

Not everyone is as fortunate as I have been, and it’s my responsibility to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves.

Finkenauer: This is an issue that comes up every day on the campaign trail. There’s no doubt the Affordable Care Act did a lot of good, but there is still much that needs to be done to improve our health care system. Health care is a human right, and extending access to quality and affordable care to every American must be a top priority in Congress.

I’ll be willing to examine with an open mind any proposal, including a public option, that puts us on the path to universal coverage so we can figure out the best available ideas and solutions to expand care.

Heckroth: The strength of our health care system is that we have some of the smartest and best trained medical professionals who are constantly working to improve care and treatments. Unfortunately, we have a major weakness when it comes to accessibility and affordability of this care. Too many families are faced with crippling debt due to illnesses or they put off necessary care because it’s too costly or too difficult to access - this has to change.

Access to health care in rural America can be even more challenging. As hospitals and clinics continue to consolidate, too many Iowans are being forced to drive hours to receive the care they need. We need to work with providers to find innovative ways to ensure that every Iowan has access to health care services.

I believe we should lower the Medicare buy-in age to 50 and allow any American to buy-in to the plan members of Congress have access to. This is a first step toward lowering health care costs and improving access.

Ramsey: A strength is an estimated 54,000 Iowans are enrolled in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). A weakness is that too much focus is on the “quantity of care” and not on the “quality of care.” We continue to celebrate the number of insureds who have enrolled in healthcare across the country, yet, more and more citizens can’t afford costly premiums that prevent them from getting the care they need. When we consider that thousands will lose health coverage because of rising premiums, we can expect enrollment numbers to drop drastically across the state.

It’s time for a better insurance design that leads to improved healthcare outcomes without additional costs. I support a universal healthcare option that ensures citizens get the care they deserve at a reasonable cost they can afford.

What is your perspective on the current state of our nation’s foreign trade policies?

Finkenauer: Our manufacturing and agriculture industries are closely tied. When our farmers are doing well, they buy more combines - made right here in Iowa. That’s why the Administration’s willingness to get involved in a trade war is deeply troubling - our economy is interconnected and any tariffs must be thoughtfully and deliberately studied before being applied to make sure they do not end up harming working families. There is no question that China is a bad actor. But our country’s trade policy must be conducted strategically with the goal of strengthening Iowa workers.

This is personal for families across the Midwest - my sister and brother-in-law live on a soybean farm and rely on it to provide for their family. Now, because of the threat of a trade war, they’re concerned about their livelihood. They are not alone - countless Iowa families are going to sleep each night with the same worries.

My top priority has always been building the climate to create jobs and raise wages for working families here in eastern Iowa. We do that best by growing our entire economy and lifting all families. That’s what I’ll fight for every day in Congress, and I’ll oppose any actions that can cause harm to Iowa workers.

Heckroth: I worked on trade issues for Senator Harkin and the Obama Administration’s Department of Labor. The biggest challenge with our current trade agreements is that they fail to ensure adequate environmental and labor standards - we need to work to pass trade agreements that accomplish this and hold our trading partners accountable for any violations to these agreements.

Ramsey: A trade war with China hits Iowa’s farmer’s hard and hurts our economic future. Soybean farmers, many who likely voted for Trump in 2016, will feel the biggest impact. I’m concerned that this administration continues to act in a way that is detrimental to the farming and manufacturing economy here at home for Iowans. We need a trade policy that is reasonable and protects all farmers from the financial damage that will result from hastily enacted policies.

Rowe: Trade is a good thing when it’s fair. We should have free trade with similarly situated countries (countries where their citizens can easily afford our products). With emerging countries we need carefully strategized trade policies that allow us to export our excess agricultural goods, while protecting American manufacturers from being undersold by low wage labor.

Where do you stand on gun control issues?

Heckroth: It’s time for common sense reforms to improve gun safety in this country. I believe this starts by passing universal background check legislation and closing the gun show loophole - these policies have overwhelming support from the public and would not infringe on the rights of gun owners. We must also take the issue of mental health seriously in this country and work at the state and federal level to ensure that there is adequate access to treatment.

Ramsey: I support the Second Amendment. I also support the right for every citizen to be safe in schools, churches, at community gatherings, and so on. In recent weeks, we have been faced with several tragic incidents of gun violence against our children.

The rising violence against American citizens is taking its toll on families and communities across the country. It’s time for America to have a serious discussion regarding gun laws. Legislators on both sides of the aisles in our nation’s capital must find a way to agree on reasonable gun laws that do not prohibit gun ownership, but ensures our citizens are safe. I’m ready to take a lead role in approaching this issue to address the root causes of this epidemic that is plaguing our communities.

Rowe: As a gun owner, and a person who has lost a family member and a friend to gun violence, this is an issue that is very personal to me. I don’t like the term gun control. It’s not guns we are trying to control, it’s gun violence we are trying to prevent.

It’s mainly about identifying people with homicidal and suicidal intentions, and separating them from access to firearms. We can do this with expanded background checks that include temporary bans on the purchase of firearms for those who have been identified by family and friends or through protection orders as being suicidal or homicidal. Law enforcement needs clear procedures here, and people dealing with extreme emotional distress need to be provided with counseling.

It’s not really about mental health in most cases, but rather emotional health. Many people do not know how to deal with the loss of relationships or jobs, etc. They display troubling behavior for months, and right now we don’t have a clear plan of action for our law enforcement, our judicial system and our social workers.

We need gun violence prevention legislation, and I will gladly champion that. I am not focused on banning particular weapons, but would agree to restricting access to certain weapons or accessories (specifically bump stocks and high capacity magazines) if the data shows this to be significant in reducing deaths by firearms. We need a reasoned and scientific approach to this issue.

Finkenauer: I’m inspired by the young people across the country right now who have stepped up and made their voices heard on this issue. I have been a strong supporter of the Second Amendment my entire life. My father taught me to shoot and handle a gun responsibly when I was growing up. Too often, the issue of preventing gun violence is exploited by those looking to divide us for political or corporate gain. I believe that in reality there is much on which Democrats and Republicans can agree and that we all need to be working together to prevent gun deaths.

We are at a critical point in our country right now, where you have people who are worried about going to school, going to a country concert, going to church, going to a movie theater. It’s not where we should be, and it’s something that when I get to Congress I absolutely want to get things done to protect us.

We need to work across the aisle to do it - like banning bump stocks and requiring background checks for online gun sales that currently can be done anonymously or at gun shows. These are things 96% of gun owners support. There is common ground out there and we need to find it so we can save lives.

What do you feel is the most effective policy for this nation in regard to immigration?

Ramsey: The most effective policy would be to protect our “DREAMERS” and create a pathway to citizenship. We need a policy that keeps our borders secure and ensures Americans are safe. We need leadership that views immigration reform humanely and not as political capitol. We need a policy that stops the criminalization of communities of color and keeps families together as a top priority.

Rowe: Everyone in our country needs to have identification. This is important to prevent people from being trafficked by unscrupulous employers and gangs. It’s also essential to ensuring everyone has access to report crimes to law enforcement.

We need a system in place to document everyone who is here. If you have established your life here, and you are paying taxes and being productive, we want you to stay with a legal status. I think we should have a path to citizenship for DACA recipients. For others, they would need to pay a fine, and would be given work visas. We currently don’t provide enough visas for the workers we need in our country. The U.S. has declining population growth. Without immigrants, we won’t have enough people for the jobs we are working to create.

Finkenauer: It is abundantly clear that our current system is broken and is not working for our country. I strongly support DACA and we should not be kicking out such individuals who were brought to this country as children and are now building a better life through getting a college degree or serving in the military. In addition to a permanent DACA fix, we need comprehensive immigration reform that will allow millions to come out of the shadows and strengthen our country, while securing our borders to ensure we keep out criminals and those who would do us harm.

Heckroth: We need comprehensive immigration reform that addresses the challenges with our current immigration system. Any reform needs to recognize that there are thousands of people who were brought to this country through no fault of their own who deserve better from our country than being deported to a country they don’t know and have no connection to. That’s why I also support DACA and the DREAM Act.
 

 

 

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