Candidates in area contested races express views prior to November 6 General Election

Allamakee County Board of Supervisors... Candidates pictured left to right: Dan Byrnes, Democrat, Kristi Hager, Republican and Larry Schellhammer, Republican.

District 56 Iowa House of Representatives... Candidates pictured left to right: Lori Egan, Democrat and Anne Osmundson, Republican.

Iowa Governor... Candidates pictured left to right: Fred Hubbell, Democrat, Jake Porter, Libertarian, Kim Reynolds, Republican and Gary Siegwarth, Clear Water.

District 1 U.S. Representative... Candidates pictured left to right: Rod Blum, Republican, Abby Finkenauer, Democrat and Troy Hageman, Libertarian.

Voters are scheduled to trek to the polls Tuesday, November 6 to cast their selections for the 2018 General Election. A sample ballot of the respective races within each level of government in this year’s election was published on Page 6B in the October 24 issue of this newspaper.
A listing of polling sites for all 11 of Allamakee County’s voting precincts was also printed on Page 6B in that October 24 issue of The Standard. Election polls will be open from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. November 6.

In an effort to help inform voters prior to their venture to the polls November 6, The Standard issued a questionnaire to each of the candidates in the area races and highest governmental leadership races being contested on this year’s General Election ballot. The series of questions asked and each candidate’s responses to those questions begin on this same page and continue to additional pages, as noted, inside this week’s issue.
The questionnaires were sent to candidates who are vying for a position that has more candidates running for the position than the ballot instructions indicate to vote for. For example, there are three candidates for Allamakee County Board of Supervisors but the ballot instructs voters to vote for no more than two.

In fact, that race for Allamakee County Board of Supervisors is the only local governmental election featuring a contested race, with two seats on the three-member board being up for election this year. The incumbent pair of Democrat Dan Byrnes and Republican Larry Schellhammer are being challenged by Republican Kristi Hager, who is not seeking another term in District 56 of the Iowa House of Representatives.
Candidates in uncontested County government races also listed on this year’s General Election ballot include incumbent Republican candidates Lori Hesse for Allamakee County Treasurer and Debbie Winke for Allamakee County Recorder. Also running uncontested in this year’s election will be Republican candidate Anthony Gericke, who will be seeking the office of Allamakee County Attorney after Jill Kistler opted not to run for re-election. Gericke has served as the Assistant Allamakee County Attorney for the past two years.
In non-partisan elections at the County level, voters will get to choose members of the Allamakee County Soil and Water Conservation Commission and Allamakee County Agricultural Extension Council. The Soil and Water Commission ballot item features two open seats but has just one candidate listed, Jack Knight. The Ag Extension Council has five vacancies to fill from the following six candidates: Bobbi Jo Baxter, Kevin Fossum, Caitlin Johnson, Angela Carlson, Lynn Reburn and Chad M. Waters. Township Clerk and Trustee candidates from throughout the county will also be listed on their respective polling site ballots, with a listing of those candidates having been published with the election notice on Page 6B of the October 24 edition of The Standard.

The only other contested race featuring a declared local candidate on this year’s General Election ballot is for District 56 of the Iowa House of Representatives, where - as previously mentioned - Republican incumbent Kristi Hager is not seeking re-election. Instead, Democrat Lori Egan and Republican Anne Osmundson are squaring off to fill that vacated seat.
A number of State of Iowa leadership offices are on this year’s ballot with multiple candidates listed for each. At the top of that Iowa leadership totem pole is the race for Iowa Governor, where Republican incumbent Kim Reynolds is seeking her first election to the office after assuming the role when former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad was confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to China in 2017. Reynolds is being challenged by Democrat Fred Hubbell, Libertarian Jake Porter and Clear Water Party of Iowa candidate Gary Siegwarth.
Iowa Attorney General is the lone State of Iowa administrative office race with just two candidates, including incumbent Democrat Tom Miller and Libertarian challenger Marco Battaglia. All four of the remaining State of Iowa offices on this year’s ballot include three candidates, including the Secretary of State race featuring Republican incumbent Paul Pate and challengers Deidre DeJear of the Democratic party and Libertarian Jules Ofenbakh.
Likewise, State Auditor Republican incumbent Mary Mosiman is being challenged in her re-election bid by Democrat Rob Sand and Libertarian Fred Perryman. Incumbent Secretary of Agriculture candidate Mike Naig of the Republican party is also being challenged by Democrat Tim Gannon and Libertarian Rick Stewart. The State Treasurer’s office is experiencing a bit of a reversal of those situations, as Democrat incumbent Michael Fitzgerald is being challenged by Republican Jeremy Davis and Libertarian Timothy Hird.

The race for Iowa’s District 1 U.S. Representative features incumbent Republican Rod Blum being challenged by Democrat Abby Finkenauer and Libertarian Troy Hageman. That race is the only one of its kind at the federal level of government for this year’s local election ballots.

Seven different judges are also listed for possible retention in their current offices on this year’s ballot. Those seven include Anuradha Vaitheswaran, Michael R. Mullins and Mary Ellen Tabor on the State of Iowa Court of Appeals, Robert J. Richter as District Court 1A Associate Judge and John J. Bauercamper, Thomas Bitter and Monica Wittig as Iowa District Court 1A judges.

For elections held in 2018, pre-registered voters are required to provide an approved form of identification or sign an oath of identification at the polling place before receiving and casting a ballot. Voters who are not pre-registered - such as voters registering to vote on election day - and voters who have moved precincts will also be required to provide proof of residence.
A voter who cannot provide proof of identification may have their identity attested to by another voter registered in the precinct who has an approved form of identification. Starting January 1, 2019, all voters will be required to present an approved form of identification. For additional information about voter identification visit or call 563-568-3522.

Voters not able to go to the polls on Election Day may vote absentee in person  during the regular office hours of 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Allamakee County Auditor’s Office at the Allamakee County Courthouse in Waukon through 4 p.m. Monday, November 5. Saturday, November 3 the Auditor’s Office in the Allamakee County Courthouse in Waukon will also be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for in-person absentee voting.
For additional election information, contact Allamakee County Commissioner of Elections Denise Beyer at 563-568-3522 or



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

Byrnes: I believe in the importance of local leadership.  In the past thirty years I have served on many boards. My first term as Supervisor has shown me the importance of a strong and experienced board.  In February of 2018, I received a lot of encouragement from residents of Allamakee County to seek a second term.  Residents seem to like the fact that the current board works together to solve tough issues. I feel that it is an honor to serve, so I am seeking a second term.

Hager: Life is a journey. When the door opened to serve at the State House these past two years I knew I would work hard for my constituents and if I was to run again it would become clear. Two committees I served on (Education and Local Government) showed the importance of local governance. I am not running against the current board of supervisors; what I am doing is running for the chance to bring my strengths, skills and passion back home to the local level.

Schellhammer: It’s a privilege to represent and promote Allamakee County and there are projects and issues that I would like to see completed and resolved.

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

Hager: The role of supervisor has many facets. Ultimately, we, as a board working together, are caretakers of the vision set forth through the Comprehensive Plan while being good stewards to our taxpayer dollars. My personal campaign motto “Cultivating Communities: Faith, Family, Fiscal Responsibility” reflects this vision.

Schellhammer: My ultimate responsibility is to provide a safe environment, good roads, courthouse and human services that are expected and required as efficiently as possible.

Byrnes: A Supervisor needs to listen to the concerns of all the citizens of Allamakee County. I try to be easily accessible. Every concern voiced by a member of the public is important to me.

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

Schellhammer: The specific issues of highest priority would include:
• Providing County employees with the resources, training and equipment they need to fulfill their jobs and duties.
• Representing Allamakee County on the Boards and Commissions to which I am appointed.
• Being an effective link connecting county and state government, providing a voice for Allamakee County at the state level.

Byrnes: My highest priority is efficient use of tax dollars to ensure a balanced budget.  The County has seventeen departments that provide services to the residents of Allamakee County. Every service is important. It is the responsibility of the Supervisors to see that high-quality services are delivered in an efficient manner.

Hager: It’s a great time to run for Supervisor! “Cultivating Communities”… I believe one role of County Supervisors is to facilitate an interconnectedness with our communities across the county. We are only as strong as our communities. We need to work for a ‘both/and’ approach and not an ‘either/or’ when it comes to agriculture, industry, tourism, healthcare, schools.
I believe our greatest strength is our people and the uniqueness we offer. The most recent Comprehensive Plan was done in 2002. Currently, meetings are being held across the county as we, the people, formulate our vision for Allamakee County into the next 20 years. Because this Plan will help ‘direct’ our actions as a board, it is critical that it reflects the vision of our community as a whole. This excites me and I hope to help move others to be part of this vision casting! Contact Aaron Detter, Regional Planner, Upper Explorerland, or 563-382-6171 to become involved.

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

Byrnes: Roads - Allamakee County Secondary Roads total over 850 miles and include 173 bridges over twenty feet in length. The amount of traffic, size of loads, and weather events have made road maintenance a challenge in recent years. Maintenance of roads combined with planning and implementation of new construction is very important.  As a Supervisor I have worked with road issues for the past four years.
Public Safety - The Sheriff’s Department provides numerous essential emergency services. Sometimes officers are called to deal with individuals with mental health related emergencies. Officers monitor individuals at the hospital while waiting for an open mental health bed. It may take several days to secure an open bed which could be a long distance from Allamakee County. The officers then transport the individual to the location. All of this adds up to delays in the individual receiving the care they need and overtime hours for the public safety staff. Efforts are underway to correct the mental health bed shortage and supervisors need to continue to work for a solution.
Substance Abuse - Alcohol and drug abuse creates many long-term problems for individuals, families and the county. I am a member of the local Allamakee Substance Abuse Prevention board and support education and prevention efforts.
Tourism - Allamakee County has become a destination for tourists. Recent data from the U.S. Travel Association shows that the tourism industry creates the equivalent of 210 full-time jobs in Allamakee County. The Driftless Area Education and Visitor Center, Scenic Byways, and county parks help make Allamakee County a place that tourists want to visit.

Hager: I believe there are great things happening in Allamakee County as communities rediscover who they are and bring forward their vision. Rural communities are faced with multifaceted changes in workforce, housing, job creation, population density - to name a few. We need a clear, defined path on where we are heading while capitalizing upon our strengths in these changing times.
Mental health remains a concern. We passed legislation in 2018 related to Mental Health Reform which will bring a paradigm shift in how we treat this issue. At a recent round table discussion with stakeholders at Veterans Memorial Hospital, Bob Lincoln, Regional Mental Health Director, referred to this legislation as a “big lift” and once fully implemented will help with the struggles in our communities. Crisis beds will be redistributed across the state and resources allocated for community intervention to prevent crisis.
I believe one of my strengths is identifying creative solutions. Another is the willingness to ask out-of-the-box questions.
For example, when Director Bartruff, Department of Corrections, announced the closure of Luster Heights as a result of the revenue shortfall, I went into action as outlined below:
• Contacted Director of Luster Heights
• Set up a meeting with our Senator and Governor
• With Gov. Branstad refusing to overturn the Directors decision, meetings with city managers unsuccessful, and inmates being relocated, I proposed a new use. How could this facility be used to meet the needs of our mental health crisis?
• I organized a meeting in Des Moines with Directors from Department of Corrections, Mental Health and DNR for a roundtable discussion
• Next, I invited stakeholders from our county and organized two tours of the Luster Heights facility for a time of vision casting
• Wrote and submitted Petition of Request for Lease with hundreds of signatures in support of this vision to the Iowa Natural Resource Commission
• In September 2017 received a Denial Letter stating the petition “does not line up with our intended use” for that property.
Even though this did not bear the fruit hoped for, I was willing to think outside-of-the-box and act.

Schellhammer: One of the current issues that has come to light in conversation with a variety of employers throughout the county is a lack of qualified job applicants. Fulfilling this workforce need presents a challenge and an opportunity for our county. Potential employees look at a wide variety of factors that will affect their work life, as well as their personal life. The challenge to meet these needs is in providing rental housing, buildable lots and available house inventory;  entertainment options; and services that today’s workforce expects. The opportunity is in promoting what is already here and available. For instance, we have great educational systems, healthcare providers, a low cost of living, outdoor recreational opportunities, churches, low crime rates and friendly people.
My responsibility as a County Supervisor would be to work with communities to provide an environment that doesn’t inhibit growth. I would encourage and support communities who share a vision of moving forward to meet this challenge.

What do you feel is the most effective approach to further facilitating the economic growth of this county while maintaining its natural and mainly rural heritage?

Hager: Life is a journey and so is life in our county. Times are changing and evolving; it’s a great time to be alive! We as a county need to embrace the diversity our unique part of the state offers. I grew up on a farm where Dad believed in diversification. Agriculture is our biggest industry; we also need to be cognizant of the economic impact of tourism, healthcare, manufacturing and service industries to this area. I believe we need to limit regulations stifling growth in any of these important areas.

Schellhammer: Allamakee County is incredibly diverse. It has diversity in people, in its economy, and in its topography. Without a doubt, this is our strength. A diverse people brings a needed variety of ideas and perspectives. A diverse economy gives a wide range of employment areas and a more stable economic pattern. Our topography allows for many different agricultural enterprises, recreation, tourism, and is a source of pride for those of us who live in Allamakee County.
Maintaining and promoting this diversity is the key to future success and growth. Allamakee County deserves a county government that works to allow all entities the freedom to succeed and thrive. By working together we can make Allamakee County a great place to live, work and play.

Byrnes: The local economy depends on the road system.  Products grown, produced and manufactured here are shipped all around the world.  These products all travel on a County road. The roads need to accommodate everything from a bicycle to a semi. Safe and dependable roads allow the economy to grow.
Allamakee County has a zoning ordinance that helps to maintain the natural heritage. Preservation of natural heritage and economic growth can be achieved if everyone works together.


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

Egan: The current situation with the privatization of Medicaid has created a crisis in our public health care system. My 30 years of nursing provides me with a great understanding of the health care system. When addressing this issue, I believe it is imperative to have people at the state level who have: a working understanding of billing/coding, knowledge of how the insurance process works, and an understanding of administrative costs and other issues affecting this situation. With my experience, I will come to the table with ideas of how to resolve this issue and be able to consider how the recommended changes will effect those who are dependent on this insurance coverage for their healthcare services.
Funding our Public Education System has not been a priority in Iowa for the past eight years. We need to provide the funding needed to allow for growth and inflation. The last legislative session was only able to commit to one year of funding to address the transportation cost disparity for our rural schools. In 2017, there was a $4.75 million cut and $500,000 mid-year 2018 cut to our community colleges. Due to mismanagement of our tax dollars, given in corporate tax credits, our community’s major source of technical education and skills training has been negatively impacted. Our community colleges train nurses, large engine technicians, electricians, plumbers and journeymen. Community colleges are the main connection from high school to the work force and I will do everything I can to support them. Jobs in our local communities are much too important to not fight for the funding for these institutions.

Osmundson: Medicaid is one of the most troubling challenges facing our state. Prior to managed care, Fiscal Year 2019 would have seen Medicaid become nearly 21 percent of the general fund budget, up from 9.18 percent in 2005 and 17.6 percent in 2014. The privatization of Medicaid hasn’t been ideal, but change is rarely easy. We need to continue conversations with stakeholders to make a long-term plan that works for everyone.

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

Osmundson: The U.S. News & World Report recently announced that Iowa is the #1 state in the country this year! Health care is one of the highly weighted factors in determining the overall ranking of a state, and Iowa ended up ranking #3 overall in health care. That’s two spots up from the state’s 2017 ranking.
A weakness would be in the area of mental health. I will work to provide a continuum of options for mental health care from children to adults. Creating a mental health system throughout the state requires collaboration with many partners and payers.

Egan: In Iowa, we have great providers, nurses, lab and x-ray technicians, and many other support staff working in healthcare. We need to do everything we can to find ways to support the work they have chosen to do to provide care and services to our family and friends. At the current time, I struggle to find any strengths in the privatized state health care system. I fully support the return of Medicaid to a state-run program. The lack of accountability for our tax dollars and denial of care for our most vulnerable has been a tragic outcome when our leaders decided to put profit over the health and well-being of our state. Iowa can and must do better.

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

Egan: We need to discover what is going to work best for rural Iowa; economic development in Waukon or Garnavillo is not the same as in Cedar Rapids or Council Bluffs. I believe one thing we can do is 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.
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. I strongly believe there is a 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 and future Iowa workers. For just one great example, there are many people currently working to do medical coding from home. This is a job that many could do from Allamakee or Clayton County if we could ensure consistent broadband services. 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. People are looking for communities that are going to offer them an improved quality of life, safety and lower cost of living, which rural Iowa has those opportunities in abundance.
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, lease-to-purchase, 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 our children are receiving excellent day care from trained early childhood professionals and that this service is available and affordable in our rural communities.
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.

Osmundson: Instead of pursuing big out-of-state companies, what if we provided a better tax and regulatory system for the businesses already here? What if those businesses all could hire one more person or raise all of the pay for their employees? We have a plan in place to encourage young people to get trained for the jobs and professions that are in demand.

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

Osmundson: The Des Moines Register reported Iowa teacher pay ranks eighth highest in the country. Cedar Rapids Gazette reported Iowa ranks fourth best in K-12 education funding in recent years. The legislature passed measures that give local schools more flexibility in spending their state dollars and provided extra transportation funding for our rural schools. The Future Ready Iowa Act, which passed unanimously this March, will more closely connect our K-12 schools with community colleges and local businesses to provide students with valuable first-hand, work-based experience to create a workforce talent pipeline.

Egan: First, Iowa must make public education a priority in the state budget. Second, 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 hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra transportation costs. Legislation needs to include a continuous stream of funding to rural schools to address their transportation needs.
We can address preparing our youth for today’s world by supporting funding that provides juniors and seniors in high school with on-the-job learning opportunities such as apprenticeships. This would allow students to learn about jobs we have in rural Iowa so they understand there are career opportunities available right here at home. These programs would also inform students about what additional continuing education they may need, whether 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.
Funding apprenticeship programs at our community colleges by formulating a collaboration through public-private partnerships would address the need that businesses are currently facing to fill the skilled workforce positions they are unable to fill. This partnership would keep the costs down for the businesses while meeting a real need for employers throughout the state.

What solutions do you have for addressing the aging infrastructure throughout this 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. Investing in infrastructure is key to increasing job opportunities and offering living wage jobs for more Iowans. I believe a better investment of our taxpayer dollars is 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. I believe one of the goals of our state government is collectively to 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.

Osmundson: According to the Department of Transportation (DOT) five-year plan, there are several projects in northeast Iowa slated to be completed in 2019. The gas tax increase in 2015 has accelerated the number of projects they are able to work on. Throughout the year, DOT staff meets with individuals, local agencies and organizations to discuss potential projects and transportation issues.



Where does your focus lie in educating Iowa’s youth?

Hubbell: I believe that education is one of the most important investments we can make in our future. That’s why one of my top priorities will be investing in Iowa’s public education system by fully funding universal pre-K and quality K-12 education, restoring support for Iowa’s higher education institutions and expanding job training opportunities. I understand that investing in quality, lifelong learning improves our public education system and helps Iowa attract new families, new businesses, and quality, high-paying jobs that will get our economy growing from the ground-up.
I have been committed to improving education throughout my life. I served on the board of Simpson College and the Iowa College Foundation Board, and believe Iowa’s future depends on innovative, affordable and accessible higher education opportunities. Governor Reynolds’ fiscal mismanagement continues at grave expense to Iowans - our education system used to be number one in the country, and this year we received a “C” grade. We need to prioritize education to ensure schools have enough resources - from teachers, counselors and support staff to school supplies - to empower every Iowan to reach their full potential.

Porter: My Lt. Governor, Lynne Gentry, is a retired school teacher. We are committed to prioritizing items in the budget so necessary functions of government are fully funded. We believe in letting local communities have more control over education standards instead of a one size fits all approach from Des Moines.

Reynolds: I am proud of our historic investments into K-12 education. Since 2011, $765 million in new money has been invested in K-12 education. Only three other states have invested in education at a faster rate than Iowa. We’ve also earned a global reputation for our STEM initiative. Both efforts are preparing our young people for a knowledge-driven economy. My vision for Iowa focuses on growing jobs, strengthening education, improving healthcare and protecting Iowans.

Siegwarth: Education of our kids begins with the family and our communities. One of the biggest issues I’m offering solutions to is the loss of farm families on our rural landscape. These rural families are the most important step in educating kids on the basics of common sense, responsibility, respect, and a work ethic. It all starts in the home and is continued within a strong and connected community.
I’m for continued funding for our public school system, but we need to fix a few things and innovate first. We need to invest in creative and diverse education and continually change our approach to fit the ever changing nature of education needs. The only thing constant with a river or life is change, so why should our education system be any different? We need to continually modify our education approach to keep up with changing needs and to what is happening in the work force.
We also need more hands-on learning and get kids outside the walls of the school whenever possible. When most kids graduate from college knowing very little about our landscape and how it functions, we have a glaring problem that needs fixing rather than just pouring more taxpayer money into the system. Just like other public run programs, lets give our schools an annual tune-up just like we would with a car engine to make sure that it’s running as efficiently and cost effective as possible.
We also need to better support our teachers and educators to keep and lure the best ones to Iowa. You don’t do that by taking away their voice and bargaining rights. We need to give that back to them or most of the good ones will want to leave. There is a teacher shortage because we don’t support them in simple ways like giving them a little freedom to teach and a little security in their jobs.
College funding: Like every other program the costs of higher education can be reduced by giving our state-funded universities a simple annual tune up. An idea I’ve been promoting regarding college funding is creating a post-high school CCC-type program, where students can give something back first to the land and their communities in exchange for funding assistance with college or starting their own business.

What priorities do you have in regard to healthcare for residents of your state?

Porter: I would reverse the privatization of Medicaid and work with all the stakeholders including those on Medicaid and the state legislature to come up with a better system. I have serious concerns when I hear about private Medicaid companies giving financial contributions to the politicians responsible for negotiating their contracts.

Reynolds: We need an integrated health care system, including affordable options, mental health care and a Medicaid system that works. This year, the Legislature unanimously passed my mental health care reform bill. I also signed an executive order to create the first of its kind Children’s Mental Health Board. Now, we’re able to provide more compassionate and accessible mental health care to Iowans of all ages. This will be covered under Iowa’s managed care system, which I have been working on every day for the last 16 months to stabilize and sustain. I’ve brought in new leadership, a new actuary, and we are making changes to the system. We also passed a bill this year that offers affordable health care options through the Farm Bureau for our farmers, small business owners, and hard-working families. Washington, DC needs to get something done, but I couldn’t just sit idly by and wait.

Siegwarth: Iowa has amazing healthcare. The problem is it’s expensive, especially if someone needs the high tech and sophisticated treatments that are available. Not everyone can afford that and neither could a single-payer system. Not everyone can afford a “Cadillac” system of healthcare, nor does everyone need it. We can, however, provide some basic level of affordable healthcare for everyone. There are many ways the cost of basic healthcare can be lowered if we sought the expertise of the right people to help figure out how to lower the costs, used holistic treatments, integrated healthy foods and lifestyle coaching, and had a triage process of not sending everyone through the emergency room doors for simple non-threatening reasons. Bottom line is we need passionate professionals who are not just in it for the money to help solve the problem of rising costs.
We also need to get the pharmaceutical lobby out of our political system if we ever hope to bring those costs down and bring common sense, cheaper treatments like cannabis into the picture. Working towards these holistic solutions will bring healthcare premiums down for everyone, including the Cadillac programs.
In regard to Medicaid privatization, here is a fact: Most state programs are not run as efficiently as they could be. To fix this, let’s do a simple tune-up like my brother does with a car engine and fix that part of the problem so we can make a state-run program that runs at high performance. It’s definitely possible if you get the right mechanics (passionate people who are not driven by greed) and use high performance engine parts (the right people and strategies).
Second, sometimes privately-run programs can be more efficient than state-run programs, but their goal is profit, and people’s health probably shouldn’t be a matter of a private company’s bottom line profit, especially when it’s a taxpayer-funded program.
That leaves us with a third option of creating a state-private cooperative approach combining positive aspects of a state and privately-run program. It would have to include enough “efficiently run” state oversight and a “limited-profit” private entity that can come together to make a better run program. Because after all, don’t we want to hire healthcare professionals that are passionate about people’s health and well-being rather than just being in it for the money? I personally know a lot of passionate healthcare professionals and they would be the perfect folks to get some input and guidance from. Instinct tells me the first and third options are probably best.

Hubbell: On day one, I will begin reversing the disastrous privatization of Medicaid back to a state-led program that delivers the quality, affordable health care Iowans deserve. The reality is that the current system isn’t working and I have heard from countless Iowans across the state about the devastating impact privatized Medicaid has had on them and their loved ones.
Also, Iowa’s mental health crisis continues to grow worse every year, and it’s an issue my wife, Charlotte, and I have taken to heart. When Broadlawns Medical Center approached us several years ago facing a severe shortage in mental health resources, Charlotte and I immediately stepped up and worked to help increase their beds by 50 percent, and add two new psychiatrists.
Throughout my travels over the past 18 months, in every community I visit, I hear how Iowans are hurting from lack of access to the mental health services they need. As a state we need to do better in providing our citizens with the services and help they need and deserve. In December, I released a comprehensive mental health plan that includes establishing a Children’s Mental Health Program, expanding jail diversion programs, supporting community-based services, and adding 50-75 new in-patient beds across the state. As governor, I’m committed to putting real funding behind my plan to enact the long-term solutions this crisis needs and Iowans deserve.

What are the keys to finding a balance between affordable taxes and the funding needs of a thriving state?

Reynolds: I believe that every dollar counts. That’s why I signed into law the most comprehensive state tax reform in Iowa history.  Iowans are seeing more money in their paychecks for groceries, gas and other necessities. Most importantly, we did this while maintaining our top priorities.
We’ve  achieved a $127 million surplus in the state budget, Iowa’s unemployment rate is second lowest in the country, and Iowans’ incomes are on the rise. We’re definitely on the right track.

Siegwarth: The answer to this is two-fold. The easiest way to reduce taxes and keep them under control is to reduce inefficiency and waste in government-run programs. Most budget cuts are made across the board, which is the wrong approach because it doesn’t improve efficiency. Similar to the analogy I’ve used with the other questions, we need to give all our state- and county-run programs an “annual tune-up” and involve all employees in that process. We’ve all seen glaring examples of ways to do things more efficiently and it’s not rocket science to accomplish. Due to constant budget cuts and loss of personnel in the Fisheries Bureau, we’ve learned how to become more efficient and get more things done with less. Part of that is keeping employees motivated and part of it is involving them in the process.
The second part to this answer is expanding the base of revenue by focusing on the economic well-being of the rural landscape and our communities. Agriculture is the driving economic force and base of the revenue generating pyramid in Iowa. Our current system is not working and has been driving farm families off the land and out of rural communities for decades. Farmers suffer from chronic overproduction, chronic low prices, rising input costs, and billions in tax pay funds are required to keep that system going.
On top of that, we have unsustainable soil loss, chronic water quality and flooding. The long term solution to both rural economics and water quality is diversifying agriculture beyond just corn, soybeans and traditional livestock. Investing in and promoting diverse agriculture is the only way we’ll ever bring young people back to the land, our rural communities, and our schools. It’s also the long-term solution for rural economics, lower taxes, water quality and improved habitat diversity. We need to transition agriculture toward diverse crop options, diverse livestock (like shrimp and salmon), and unique services like pizza farms (Luna Valley farm near Decorah) and music farms (Codfish Hollow near Maquoketa). This will reduce competition and improve prices of traditional crops, create smaller-scale options for beginning farmers, create more local markets, bring more people back to our rural communities, and spread out the risk so every producer is not doing the exact same.
If just a portion of the Farm Bill subsidies were invested into creative agriculture rather than the same old thing, the diversity of opportunities on the land and in our rural communities is limited only by our imaginations. The best part is this would help reduce taxes and bring people back to our rural communities.

Hubbell: We need to grow our state the right way with a long-term approach, that starts by putting people first again and investing in health care and education.
Iowans have seen their opportunities reduced because Governor Reynolds has prioritized short-sighted wasteful corporate giveaways rather than supporting the services Iowans depend on to be successful. I have experience in Iowa managing complex budgets, serving as Chairman of Younkers Department Stores in the 1980s and as President of Equitable of Iowa. I know good fiscal management and how to balance a budget. I also know that we can get our state growing the right way by reinvesting our budget in the right priorities like education and health care, and ending the wasteful corporate giveaways Governor Reynolds continues to dole out to out-of-state corporations.

Porter: We need a Governor for all Iowans and a Governor for all Iowa businesses. The state needs to quit picking winners and losers in the marketplace.  We should end corporate welfare and handouts to large financially sound corporations.
The Governor sets a recommended annual budget that is provided to the legislature. We should look through the hundreds of state boards and agencies and eliminate what needs to be eliminated, consolidate what needs to be consolidated, and make everything else more efficient.  We can then prioritize the items in the budget so we keep taxes as low as possible.

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

Siegwarth: There are numerous important issues that are interconnected in many ways. I’ve presented those interconnected issues in the form of a spider-web as a way to promote a holistic and long-term perspective for solving issues rather than thinking we can just take on single issues without considering the rest. Here is the top five:
1.) The base of my platform is Natural Resources including our air, land, water, outdoor recreation, public lands and agriculture. Natural resources and the environment are some of the most important issues to people that usually get pushed off the political platform mainly because most elected officials don’t understand our vital connection. I’m putting those issues on an equal playing field.
2.) Reducing the impact of big money control of our political system, which takes the voice away from the common voter. This hampers true solutions for solving most issues, as well as bringing new creative ideas into the process. Anytime an outside special interest or lobby group can fund a politician or promote misinformation, your vote and your voice essentially gets compromised. I am the only candidate who has not taken any special interest or political action group’s money. I’m nearly all self-funded and have used creative ideas rather than millions in advertising to promote my ideas and platform. I believe that word of mouth can overcome big money.
3.) Reducing the political divisiveness that has taken over our political system. People are tired of one side always being against the other and not working together to solve even the simplest of issues. I’m the only Independent candidate on the ballot for Governor and I’m really good at bringing people and ideas together for the greater good of Iowa.
4.) Improving the process of solving legislative issues. None of us would successfully run a business or make any kind of decision the way our divisive political system has of late, with one side constantly against the other, secret decisions behind closed doors, and excluding professions and the ideas of common people in the process. Shouldn’t a Governor be someone at the top who inspires, presents ideas, and brings people and ideas together to solve holistic problems? I can do that!
5.) Agriculture is the driving economic force in Iowa. Our current system is not working. Farmers suffer from chronic overproduction, chronic low prices, rising input costs, and billions in tax pay funds are required to keep that system going. On top of that, we have unsustainable soil loss, chronic water quality and flooding. The short-term solution to water quality and flooding is better utilizing known conservation practices that improve a producer’s bottom line profit and doesn’t require millions in taxpayer revenues to solve.
As discussed above, the long term solution is diversifying agriculture. Investing and promoting diverse agriculture is the only way we will ever bring young people back to the land, our rural communities, and our schools. It’s also the long-term solution for rural economics, water quality and improved habitat diversity.
Addressing the above issues is the only way we’re ever going to successfully solve all the other important issues, from healthcare to education to economics, it can’t be solved in our current political climate so we have to address those things at the same time.

Hubbell: Iowans everyday are facing serious challenges because of the disastrous policies of Governor Reynolds and Republicans - from the failure of Medicaid privatization that has left 40,000 Iowans with reduced or denied care to the underfunding of our schools. We need change.
We need to restore fiscal responsibility in order to invest in priorities like education, job training and health care to get Iowa growing for the long-term. I would put people first by ending the wasteful tax 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, and have a process to review what value they’re giving to the state, many of which are now 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.

Porter: One issue that is often ignored is criminal justice reform. We need to restore the voting rights to anyone that has served their time and paid for their crimes.
Our prisons are at capacity and in the next seven to eight years will be around 142% capacity. We need to make sure that our prisons are there for violent offenders and that addiction is treated as a public and mental health issue as opposed to an entirely criminal issue. It costs around $32,000 a year to put someone in prison.  It is a lot cheaper to address the addiction and a better idea to keep the prisons for dangerous offenders and not let them out to make room for people who shouldn’t be there.

Reynolds: Every day, I’m working to build a better Iowa.  It’s the first thing I think about in the morning and on my mind at night. I take this job seriously because Iowans trust me to do what’s right.
I also believe there is no better place to live, work and raise a family than Iowa. It’s a place where a small-town girl can run for county office, State Senate and serve as Lieutenant Governor. It’s a place where a fifth generation Iowan can become the first woman governor. And, it’s a place where core values matter, and promises are kept.
My vision for Iowa focuses on growing jobs, strengthening education, improving healthcare and protecting Iowans. The facts prove my approach is working.
But don’t just take my word for it. Earlier this year, U.S. News and World Report named Iowa the #1 state in the country, a ranking that reflects our people, our work ethic, and our values. So let’s keep Iowa moving in the right direction. With your vote in November, we can continue focusing on jobs, education, healthcare and public safety. My story is the Iowa story. I love this state, our people, and this job of Governor of Iowa.


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

Blum: 1) Healthcare costs are too high, while options are too few. Congress should pass stand-alone bills that fix specific issues in a bipartisan manner, instead of massive, comprehensive all-or-nothing “solutions.” The government has a role, but it certainly cannot be a total takeover of healthcare, and the free market can be unleashed to heighten competition, lower costs and increase innovation in our healthcare system.
2) Taking action against countries who unfairly restrict access to U.S. producers.
3) We must work out a bipartisan plan to update Social Security and Medicare to prevent them from going bankrupt so that Iowa seniors get the benefits they’ve paid into and earned.
Nearly every bill I have introduced has been bipartisan, to ensure those with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied coverage, to preserve Social Security and Medicare, to provide options for patients following a mastectomy, or to eliminate perks for members of Congress, like flying first class on the taxpayer dime. My motivation to work across the aisle, actions since being elected, and experience from over 30 years in the private sector are what I offer to address these challenges. I told voters I would be an independent voice, work to reignite the economy, reform Congress, and serve my district. I pushed for tax cuts and delivered a nearly $2,500 reduction for the average family. I’ve voted against my party when it is the right thing for the 1st district. I have kept my promises to the voters and will always do so.
Finkenauer: I have spent my life fighting for working families like mine. In the State House, I wasn’t just a vote, I was a voice for the thousands of hard working men and women in my district and across the state who are just trying to get by. In Washington, I’ll continue that fight to ensure Iowans have access to affordable healthcare and good jobs at good wages, while we invest in our infrastructure.
I won’t be afraid to work to add a public option to the Affordable Care Act so we can reduce healthcare premiums while increasing choices and competition. I’ll fight to let Medicare negotiate with prescription drug companies so we can get a better deal. I’ll lead the charge to pass an infrastructure bill that invests in our roads, bridges and waterways to strengthen our economy. I’ll make sure we expand apprenticeship and job training programs so our workers have access to the skills they need to take the next step in their career. And I’ll be willing to work with anyone, regardless of party, to get it done.
It’s time we had a Representative who will make Washington remember the working people they forgot.

Hageman: Too much government involvement in our lives. I plan to limit government intervention as much as possible. The social culture war we have going on in America today is people fighting over the power the government uses. They aren’t against the power and abuse itself, they’re against the fact that they don’t have the power to control people the way they see fit. Controlling people’s lives isn’t freedom, it isn’t American.
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?

Finkenauer: Right now, whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican I think we can all agree that the cost of healthcare is too high in our country. I’ll fight back against any attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and gut protections for Iowans with pre-existing conditions. And I’ll fight to make healthcare more affordable by offering a public option that lets Iowans buy into Medicare at a younger age, which will reduce costs and save money. We also must bring down the cost of prescription drugs by increasing transparency and allowing Medicare to negotiate with the prescription drug companies for better prices.

Hageman: The strength is that it’s able to function at all with all the hurdles government and its cronies place in healthcare. I’d prefer a free market place to healthcare without government intervention; let the industry run on its own and you’ll see competition providing better care for less cost. Also, end the drug war, and end the FDA, it’s not there for the consumers’ protection it’s there for drug making companies’ protection.

Blum: When Obamacare passed, millions were fined and premiums skyrocketed. The solution is not another massive overhaul. It is to address specific issues directly through stand-alone bills. The government has a role helping those with pre-existing conditions, buying down premiums and negotiating lower drug prices; while the free market can increase competition, allow sales of insurance across state lines, allow increased contributions to health savings accounts and re-import drugs from overseas.

What is your perspective on the current state of our nation’s foreign trade policies, especially in consideration of their impact on Iowa?

Hageman: I’m a free market advocate, government shouldn’t be involved in who can trade with who or what fee they have to pay in order to do business. Tariffs are just another tax on transactions. They don’t even have to have trade deals with countries, just let people trade.

Blum: My words have been twisted on this and made to seem like I am supportive of hurtful tariffs. Let me be clear: that is not true. I appreciate our farmers’ patience during negotiations and I am confident that everyone will be better off soon - just as we are seeing with the recently finalized U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to replace NAFTA, new deals with South Korea and Australia, along with the announcement from Taiwan to renew the $1.56 billion purchase of U.S. soybeans. Our farmers in Iowa can feed the world if we open foreign markets and remove burdensome regulations.

Finkenauer: There’s no question that we must hold countries like China who engage in abusive trade practices accountable. But we can’t do that by using our farmers as poker chips and causing real pain to our economy. And we need to do it with a comprehensive strategy in place that I haven’t yet seen. Our farmers are already projected to lose up to $2.2 billion because of Washington’s trade war. That’s not acceptable to me, and I’ll fight to protect Iowa farmers and workers in Congress.

Where do you stand on gun rights?

Blum: I am proud that my campaign for re-election has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association (NRA). Also, constituents have made it clear to me that their 2nd Amendment rights are not up for negotiation. As we examine solutions to prevent criminals from hurting our communities, I am committed to ensuring the rights of our citizens are protected.

Finkenauer: 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 folks that 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.

Hageman: I’m so pro-gun the NRA wouldn’t dare endorse me. If you can build it, buy it, find it, whatever, you can have it. Libertarianism is based on the non-aggression principle. I don’t advocate violence, I feel we all have the right to defend ourselves the way we see fit.

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

Finkenauer: Both Democrats and Republicans have failed on this issue and we need to get serious about finding a solution. Our current system is broken and Congress needs to do its job to fix it. We absolutely need comprehensive immigration reform that strengthens our borders through increased manpower and the use of smart technology. We also need to implement an earned pathway to citizenship to bring people out of the shadows and make our communities safer, while making the use of E-Verify mandatory.

Hageman: I advocate for strong property rights and self defense. If individuals are violent they should be stopped. Individuals from around the world should be allowed to travel freely to America - the land of opportunity, but if they don’t respect property rights and other individuals’ rights like everyone else, they should be stopped. Freedom shouldn’t be limited to a geographic line on a map.

Blum: I 100% support legal immigration. I worked to negotiate the addition of an agricultural workers visa program in a recent immigration bill to offset the labor shortage our farmers have been facing in Iowa.
On the other hand, I do not believe in rewarding those who have broken the law and providing incentives for others to follow their lead. The increase in illegal immigration is driving down wages and making jobs less lucrative. I stand behind my vote for H.R. 4760 to give legal status to DACA recipients while also authorizing funding for a wall on the southern border, halting federal funding to sanctuary cities who break federal law, implementing E-verify, ending chain migration and improving the immigrant agriculture workers program.

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