Candidates in contested races on this year’s Primary Election ballot share their views as absentee voting gets underway prior to June 4 Election date

Allamakee County Sheriff - Mellick vs. Wagner... Pictured above, left to right: Clark Mellick and Paul Wagner. Submitted photos.

District 64 Iowa House of Representatives - Gearhart vs. Wolfe... Pictured above, left to right: Jason Gearhart and Doug Wolfe. Submitted photos.

Tuesday, June 4 will be the Primary Election to determine which candidates will be representing their respective political parties in the 2024 General Election in November. An election notice listing the respective races in each of the Republican, Democratic and Libertarian parties will be published in an upcoming edition of this newspaper, listing races at the Federal, State and County levels of government for voters to make their selections in, along with additional ballot and election information.

In-person absentee voting for this year’s Primary Election begins May 15 and lasts through June 3 in the Auditor’s Office at the Allamakee County Courthouse in Waukon from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday each week. The Auditor’s Office will also be open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, June 1 for in-person absentee voting.

The deadline for voters to request an absentee ballot be mailed to them is this coming Monday, May 20. A mailed absentee ballot may be requested from the Auditor’s Office by calling 563-568-3522. Polling locations for the June 4 Primary Election Day will be open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m.

In an effort to help inform voters prior to their venture to the polls June 4 or before they cast their absentee ballots prior to that June 4 Election Day, The Standard issued a questionnaire to each of the candidates in the races being contested on this year’s Primary ballot. The series of questions asked and each candidate’s responses to those questions begin on the Front Page of this week’s edition of The Standard and continue 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. In this year’s Primary Election, the only contested races with more than one candidate lie on the Republican Party ballot, where two such races exist. Otherwise, the Democratic Party ballot has just one overall candidate listed within this year’s six offices on the ballot, that being Sarah Corkery running for the Democratic nomination for Iowa’s District 2 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The local Libertarian Party ballot does not have a single candidate listed on it for any of the offices that are included in the June 4 Primary Election.

The two races vying for their respective nomination on this year’s Republican Primary ballot involve the more local race for Allamakee County Sheriff between incumbent Clark Mellick, who is seeking his fourth term in that office, and challenger Paul Wagner, who currently serves as Police Chief for the City of Waukon. Otherwise, two other County-level races include just a single Republican candidate listed in each for this year’s Primary Election, with incumbent Denise Beyer running unopposed in her bid for re-election to the office of Allamakee County Auditor, and Tom Clark running unopposed for the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors seat being vacated by Mark Reiser, who is not seeking re-election to that seat in this year’s election.

The only other contested race in this year’s Primary Election for Allamakee County voters is at the State level of government, where Jason Gearhart of Strawberry Point and Doug Wolfe of Elkader are vying for the Republication nomination for the District 64 seat in the Iowa House of Representatives being vacated by Anne Osmundson, who also is not seeking re-election this year. In the other State-level race on this year’s Primary ballots for Allamakee County voters, incumbent Mike Klimesh is seeking sthe Republican nomination to return to his District 32 seat in the Iowa Senate.

There are no contested races at the Federal level of government for Allamakee voters on this year’s Primary ballots, with only Iowa’s District 2 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives being on this year’s ballot. As previously mentioned, Sarah Corkery is listed on the Democratic Party ballot for that seat - again, the only Democratic candidate at all listed on the local ballot. Incumbent District 2 U.S. Representative Ashley Hinson is also running unopposed for the Republican nomination to try and retain her current seat as Iowa’s District 2 Representative.

For the Primary Election, voters must declare themselves either as Republican, Democrat or Libertarian in order to be able to vote in the election. For additional information about the June 4 Primary Election, visit the Allamakee County Election website at, reference the weekly series of “Election 101” articles being printed in this same newspaper since its April 24 edition, or call the Allamakee County Auditor’s Office at 563-568-3522.

Allamakee County Sheriff - Mellick vs. Wagner

What has motivated you to seek the office of Allamakee County Sheriff, and how would you describe your approach to embracing the responsibilities such a position holds?

Mellick: I have been deeply dedicated to providing service to the people through hard work and compassion. When I began my career with the Allamakee County Sheriff’s Office in 2004 as a deputy sheriff, I was able to work closely with the Sheriff at that time to advance the operations of the Sheriff’s Office. In 2012, upon the retirement of the Sheriff, I felt that seeking the office of Sheriff would be the next step in my career to continue to move the Allamakee County Sheriff’s Office forward to address the needs of public safety in a leadership role. I will continue to follow these priorities as Sheriff.

Wagner: I have been a full-time police officer in Allamakee County for nearly 20 years. I feel that I have evolved in my law enforcement career and have an excellent understanding of the responsibilities of the Allamakee County Sheriff.
I am motivated to change the patrol function of the Sheriff’s Office to 24-hour coverage. Further, I am driven to continuously work on solutions regarding mental health, which is an ever-changing issue. I also see value in receiving input on a variety of topics and training from other law enforcement and emergency responding agencies. This also includes increasing training and safety for our schools throughout Allamakee County.
As the Chief of Police at the Waukon Police Department, I have worked tirelessly to ensure that our officers are equipped with modern equipment and training so that they can work safely and efficiently. I use long-term planning and budgeting to achieve this while also not creating a huge, unexpected burden on taxpayers.
I also take pride in being transparent about the operations of the Waukon Police Department and I intend to take that same level of transparency to the Allamakee County Sheriff’s Office, as your Sheriff. Communication with citizens, government officials, other emergency response agencies, and our officers is the foundation of a successful and well-functioning law enforcement agency.

What do you feel are the most concerning challenges faced by law enforcement officials - both as a whole in today’s society and, more specifically, at the local level within our county, and what do you feel can be done to address or lessen the impact of those challenges?

Wagner: Law enforcement is faced with many unique challenges from day to day. That being said, we are fortunate to work in a community where our citizens are supportive of law enforcement.
As I’ve mentioned before, delivering the necessary mental health tools to our citizens is a huge challenge. Along with that, law enforcement officers are exposed to a variety of situations that jeopardize their own mental wellness and morale. I will continue to work on plans to ensure the mental well-being of both citizens and police officers is at the forefront.
Recruitment and retention is also an issue that continuously comes up. I believe that there is a favorable balance between providing law enforcement officers with modern equipment while not burdening taxpayers. I believe that communication and planning make this an achievable plan. It’s important to create a workplace that makes advancements of equipment and officer safety the forefront of operations. Communication between all levels of law enforcement is also key in maintaining a desirable workplace for everyone. I believe that these solutions help with recruitment and retention issues.

Mellick: As Sheriff, I feel that there is a multitude of challenges faced when providing public safety countywide. There continues to be an increase in calls for service for criminal acts, mental health, and civil matters. I understand that due to funding and location, we have limited resources to address needs.
As budgets are tightening, we will be required to operate through innovative thinking and planning to find cost-effective solutions to meet current and future needs. I have worked closely with the Allamakee County Supervisors to plan and implement a budget and work within that budget to provide for public safety that includes the operations of the Allamakee County E-911 dispatch center and jail.
Recruitment of staff for the positions of deputy sheriff’s, telecommunicators and jail personnel continues to be a challenge due to a decline in interested applicants for those positions. As Sheriff, I have worked with schools and colleges to provide career information and participate with site internships for students interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement. This gives students the opportunity to see all aspects of law enforcement, dispatching and jailing with the hopes of returning to a career with the Allamakee County Sheriff’s Office.

Mental health has often been found to be the underlying factor in a number of crimes, and in many of the emergencies that local law enforcement has to respond to. What do you feel are the keys - both in the local law enforcement experience and as a whole in society - to being able to more effectively address mental health issues and the role they play?

Mellick: Addressing mental health concerns has been an ongoing challenge for Allamakee County. I have been involved in planning and delivery of services through collaboration with providers and stakeholders and have found the largest challenge is locally available services. I have continued to advocate for the need for more access to local treatment and services and will continue to do so as Sheriff.
Oftentimes when law enforcement responds to a mental health call, the individual is experiencing a severe crisis. It is the role of the responding law enforcement officer to identify the crisis and begin to facilitate treatment with the appropriate provider to begin care in a timely manner. A key component is funding to provide adequate treatment options locally for individuals. Without adequate funding of treatment programs, treatment is often delayed or even unavailable. Other components following stabilization should include community-based programming and support services to provide continued monitoring of treatment plans. By funding community-based programs, this will allow the individual increased success. I will continue to advocate for funding and the expansion of local services.

Wagner: First off, Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waukon has done a great job in advancing its local mental health footprint. Veterans Memorial Hospital has added staff so that planning and treatment can be done locally. Making resources local increases the likelihood that our citizens will seek help and follow up on a plan when needed.
With that, I believe that some mental health concerns start with a particular incident that eventually snowballs. My plan would be to create a local group of volunteers who can be called upon to help citizens of Allamakee County with these types of needs. This would likely attract people to work through their problems with this neutral party, rather than requiring unnecessary medical treatment or opting to ignore their problem when they truly need help with it.
I would similarly create volunteer peer support groups that could be deployed to talk to a group of people who are struggling or need unbiased guidance. There are incidents where a single person or peer support group would positively impact people affected by a traffic collision, a structure fire, or a variety of other mentally burdening events.
These volunteers are not a replacement for professional mental health services. Volunteers would be trained to recognize indicators where an individual should seek professional services instead.
The Waukon Police Department, under my direction, utilized a law enforcement peer support group from Iowa after a critical event. I feel that having someone neutral to speak to is monumental after a critical event.
Also, I would work with local stakeholders and law enforcement to continue to grow and improve upon local mental health services. The Waukon Police Department currently uses Elevate for any mental health emergency that requires professional treatment plans. This agency is completely free for law enforcement to use for referrals.

Although improvements have been made with the advancement of technology, the terrain of Allamakee County ultimately still provides occasional challenges for communication between officers, other first responders and sometimes their “home base” of the Dispatch Center. What would you suggest as a plan moving forward to continue to strive for improvement in that regard, and what factors have to be considered in being able to make such improvements in this county?

Wagner: The reliable operation of communication devices such as radios and phones is essential in keeping our citizens and officers safe. Although there are certainly areas of Allamakee County where all forms of electronic communication are less than desirable, continuous work needs to be done to maintain or improve the system that we have. I am aware of many occasions where the radio system had substantial reliability issues regardless of terrain.
At the Waukon Police Department, I worked to build redundancy in the communication systems that we have. For example, we have two internet service providers (one provider is completely free) and an automatic switchover system if one provider loses internet service. This ensures that our phones are always working. We also have radios, both portable and mobile, that have the capability of being utilized on multiple different radio bands so that if local towers were to go out, we can utilize state-owned towers in the area. I believe that there always needs to be a back-up system or plan when it involves the safety of our communities and officers.
I would also work to upgrade equipment and radios as they reach end of life with the intention of ensuring mobile communication reliability and advancement among all first responders. To clarify, when a component of radio equipment is at end of life, I would upgrade that piece of equipment to have more advanced or modern features so that replacement of that equipment reduces the need to upgrade all equipment at the same time in the future. This ultimately reduces taxpayer burden.
I do not propose spending millions of dollars on existing, functioning radio infrastructure but I want to work quickly to repair the radio system that has known communication reliability issues. As a recent example, officers were dispatched to a domestic situation by use of cellular phones because the radio system was not working correctly. This is unacceptable when seconds count.

Mellick: I have observed the rapid change in the application of technology to radio communication systems for the delivery of communications to law enforcement, fire departments and ambulance services. This is delivered through a network of towers that include elevated antennas and computerized equipment at the site. These tower sites are the backbone of radio communications.
Allamakee County has radio equipment at nine sites throughout Allamakee County to provide radio coverage. Our county is one of the most difficult counties in Iowa to achieve radio coverage due to our terrain, resulting in numerous site locations. While equipment is always vulnerable to weather-related events and component failures which require repair or maintenance, Allamakee County contracts with a public safety communications vendor to provide needed services for system needs. The service technicians are normally on site within a couple hours and stock many system components that may be needed for repairs. I will continue to work with the E-911 Director and Board to use the radio communications infrastructure that is currently in place and operational, making decisions based on need and cost effectiveness.
As Sheriff, radio interoperability is becoming increasingly important as neighboring counties have changed radio systems. There will be three different radio systems bordering our county. I have already begun to address interoperability by planning for patrol vehicle and handheld radios through the use of dual band radios to communicate effectively with all different radio systems, and I plan to continue this without cost to the taxpayer.
The Allamakee County Sheriff’s Office and E-911 Office have been approached to change the radio communications system within the county to the Iowa Statewide Interoperable Communications System (ISICS) or the Racom Sara radio network. The migration to a different radio communications system would be a multi-million dollar local investment, as the replacement of equipment at current tower sites, dispatch center radio equipment, mobile radios and handheld radios would need to be replaced to accommodate another system. After speaking with system vendors, this is potentially a projected cost of approximately 14 million dollars to achieve the same radio coverage or better than the current radio system provides. An important consideration of any radio system is recurring maintenance costs and the length of service of the system as technology continues to change rapidly.
To plan for a project of this scope, the first step is to identify the need to migrate to a different radio system. This would require an independent assessment of the current radio communications system to determine its viability and what future radio communication needs will be. This assessment would include the condition of the current radio system and what would be a viable and cost-effective option, if applicable.
If an assessment were to determine the need to migrate to a different radio system, the next step would be to determine what type of system would best meet the needs for radio communications. A planning committee would be developed, including the E-911 board, emergency management board, administration from law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services, community leaders and members of the public to determine project funding, whether through available grants or local tax dollars, and how this funding would be secured. I feel that if a project of this magnitude is funded through tax dollars, this project should be taken to the taxpayer, as they should have a say in how their tax dollars are spent.

There appears to be differing perspectives between your two campaigns when it comes to 24-hour, full-time officer patrol throughout the county by Allamakee County Sheriff officials. Could you please explain your own perspective and what factors are considered or need to be considered in such scheduling decisions?

Mellick: When scheduling deputies, there are many factors to be considered that include call volume times, number of deputies, time off for vacation, illness, officer fatigue, court duties, out of county transports, training, equipment costs and available budget while keeping public safety a priority. The current schedule allows these factors to be met. Changes to scheduling often result in increased staffing numbers, which results in increasing the budget as labor is one of the largest costs.
The Allamakee County Sheriff’s Office provides 24-hour law enforcement service by utilizing two ten-hour shifts including a two-hour shift extension for deputies. This scheduling is used to provide for better coverage of Allamakee County by having multiple deputies working during increased call volume times. Deputies working a day shift are available for immediate response for two hours prior to patrol, while deputies working a night shift are available for immediate response for two hours following patrol.
All sheriff’s deputies are required to live within Allamakee County and are subject to call back at anytime during emergencies. Deputies may at any time be required to patrol varied shift hours when specific times and locations are required to address needs. As Sheriff, I will continue to evaluate scheduling needs and address this through planning and budgeting.

Wagner: Citizens’ safety and security has been my top priority. When seconds count, at any time of the day, I want our citizens and visitors of Allamakee County to know that help will be to them quickly. Not having 24-hour coverage creates obvious delays in response times. This is especially true if the on-call deputy resides on the opposite side of Allamakee County in relation to the emergency.
Right now, when a deputy ends their shift at 3:00 a.m., they are on-call until 5:00 a.m. and the deputy that will begin their shift at 7:00 a.m. goes on call at 5:00 a.m. Currently, any call-out utilizes calling the on-call deputy despite the location where they are needed.
I plan to immediately begin discussions with deputies, after taking office, to gain insight in creating scheduling that will make 24-hour patrol coverage possible while having as minimal impact on the deputies’ home life as possible.
Currently, the Waukon Police Department utilizes around-the-clock coverage. The department had this coverage long before I began my career here. There are multiple benefits to having 24-hour coverage, both at the Waukon Police Department and the Allamakee County Sheriff’s Office: 1) Around the clock patrolling helps to reduce crime; 2) It decreases the response time that an officer or deputy needs to get to a critical incident or report of suspicious activity; 3) If there is a critical incident where an officer requires assistance, back-up can get to the scene much quicker; 4) Deputies are available to assist first responders, such as ambulance services, if they are going to a call for service that seems potentially dangerous or there is unknown information that could lead to either problems for responders or creation of a law enforcement case; 5) Finally, my plan will benefit the smaller communities in Allamakee County that do not have 24-hour coverage, as those areas will be patrolled frequently by deputies, as well.
Having 24-hour coverage in Allamakee will not cost taxpayers any extra money under my plan. Waukon Police Department currently does this with less staff than the Allamakee County Sheriff’s Office has.

With the noted increase in violent - and even fatal - behavior in recent years in our traditionally quiet little corner of Iowa (and even more so in society, in general), is there something you feel can be done more proactively to help stem that tide of criminal behavior, or is it something you feel we are just going to have to accept as societal change?

Wagner: I believe that the best way to address violent crime is to ensure that victims have resources readily available to them so that they can make impactful decisions. Victims of all crimes are notified by law enforcement of their rights and certain crime victims are immediately offered advocates.
It is also essential to work with the Allamakee County Attorney’s Office to ensure that suspects in these types of crimes are prosecuted. Local law enforcement has a close working relationship with the Allamakee County Attorney’s Office. Many crimes are discussed with an attorney from that office to determine if charges should be filed and which charge(s) would be correct based upon the elements of the crime. Criminals that know that they will likely have consequences are less likely to commit crimes.
The Allamakee County Attorney’s Office also has a Victim Coordinator, who helps put victims of crimes in touch with resources that may be available. This is a very critical position that we rely upon often.
I also believe that my mental health plan may be beneficial in helping victims in seeking alternatives to violent environments.

Mellick: Having nearly 20 years in law enforcement with the Allamakee County Sheriff’s Office, I feel we have seen changes in society. The degradation of values and morals within a society will have negative consequences. Criminal behavior can often be attributed to a failure to respect others or their property, resulting in a criminal act. I feel that it is the responsibility of all to work to maintain our values and morals, to help others in need, and to instill positive values and morals in our youth. I feel we are fortunate to live in an area where there are good people who work to better the community. The protection of the community is a concerted effort between the public, law enforcement and the court system.
As Sheriff, I will continue to provide public safety through experience, knowledge and leadership accumulated over nearly 20 years in county law enforcement.



District 64 Iowa House of Representatives - Gearhart vs. Wolfe

What has motivated you to seek the District 64 seat in the Iowa House of Representatives, and what will be your issues of greatest priority?

Gearhart: I was disappointed in Iowa’s response to Covid. While Iowa did better than other states, we still shut down, our churches closed, playgrounds closed, and loved ones were lost without being able to say good-bye. We must learn from this and do better.
Much of my adult life has been dedicated to some form of service. I served in the Army for five years after high school. I served on the Strawberry Point Chamber of Commerce board for five years, the Jr. Stars Athletics organization for four years, have coached youth basketball for the last five years, have coached the Starmont Middle School girls basketball program the past two seasons, and I volunteer around the community.
I was elected to serve on the Strawberry Point City Council and have been serving in that capacity for three-and-a-half years, and I have also been elected to the Starmont School Board and the Clayton County Republican Central Committee. Many times, I have been the lone voice of reason when questioning frivolous spending or bad policy. I was the lone vote of opposition when Strawberry Point brought the speed cameras to town. I am motivated by doing my best to represent the wants of the communities I will serve while being fiscally responsible. I will take my many years of serving my country and community to Des Moines where I will serve you!
There are several issues that will be a priority to me:
Supporting area farmers and the agricultural community. It is crucial that our district representative supports our area farmers and ag industry. Agriculture is very important to our state and has had a major impact on my life. Farm life taught me the importance of being a good steward of the land, having conservative values, taking pride in working hard and the important meaning behind giving someone your word and a handshake.
Supporting our rural schools. Our district representative should support our rural public schools. Like many of you, I am the product of Iowa’s public education system. One of the biggest concerns I have for small rural districts is that they will be forced to consolidate into larger rural districts as student populations decline and teacher shortages continue.
Supporting Iowa’s homegrown businesses. It is very important that our district representative support home grown businesses. I want our youth to have enough economic opportunities here in our district to want to stay home/come back after high school/college.
Defending your God-given rights. It is imperative that our district representative support the United States and the Iowa Constitution. I was 19 years old when I raised my right hand and swore an oath to support and defend the United States Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. Nearly 22 years later, I am still proud to honor that oath. Elected officials must be held accountable when they are caught trampling on our rights!

Wolfe: As many of us are, I’m tired of the tyranny the federal government is forcing on Iowans. From education to transgender care, to illegal immigration. It’s important to care for the people but we don’t have to accept what the federal government is forcing us to believe.
HSB 698 is a bill that is urgently needed for reliable, adequate, and stable delivery of electricity to Iowans. Due to the Biden administration, we have lost two highly productive and efficient power plants that served this area. Recently, environmentalists have filed a lawsuit stopping the construction of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek Project that will provide electricity between Wisconsin and Iowa affecting our district. This bill is urgent to assure Iowans reliable, safe, and adequate energy in the future.

What do you feel are the biggest challenges faced by the communities within Iowa House District 64, and what does your candidacy offer in addressing those challenges?

Wolfe: I would like to support constitutional bills that protect and defend Iowans from federal government overreach and stop the attack on our children’s innocence. I would like to see or introduce legislation toward age-appropriate healthy curriculum taught in schools, and I would like to support all Iowa renewable resources like bio-diesel, ethanol, wind and solar power.

Gearhart: I feel one of the biggest challenges our district is facing is the future of our rural public schools. As a school board member, I am concerned with how the new legislation will affect the schools in our district. I have spoken with several lawmakers who have assured me that the funding will be there for our schools, but I know there is still much uncertainty surrounding this. This will be something I watch closely as the new law is rolled out fully over the next couple of years.
We are witnessing a mental health crisis in Iowa. I have spoken with several law enforcement professionals and all have said the same thing: we need to do more in regard to mental health in Iowa. I hear you loud and clear. If elected I will work alongside professionals in law enforcement as well as those in the health care industry to come up with solutions to find help for those in need.
Iowa needs to fight to be energy independent and diversified. We need to keep our gas and coal power plants and not put all of our eggs in the wind and solar basket. I was quite disappointed when the Duane Arnold Energy Center (Iowa’s only nuclear power plant) closed down, as well as the Lansing coal plant. Customers are now seeing the promises of cheaper power turn into higher electric bills.

Many decisions have been made in the State Legislature this year regarding education. What are your thoughts on the current state of education in Iowa, what - if any - changes do you feel are needed, and what will be your points of emphasis in advocating for school districts in District 64?

Gearhart: I feel that the squeaky wheel gets the grease and the loudest squeaking is coming from Des Moines, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, etc. Small rural schools (at least in our district) are not necessarily facing the same problems as the urban schools but we are all lumped together. As a Starmont School Board member, I am watching closely how the changes will affect our school as they are rolled out. The verdict is still out if this will have a positive or negative affect on our schools.
My wife is a fourth grade public education teacher and my two children are in middle school at a public school. I am 100% vested in being an advocate for the future of Iowa’s public schools. I think it is great that parents have the right to choose where kids get their education, but I am a firm believer that public tax dollars for education should stay with public schools.
The Student First Safety Act passed that allows teachers and staff to conceal carry firearms at schools but EMC insurance is refusing to insure schools that go above and beyond to protect our students. I think it is time the state looks into self-insuring public schools to ensure our students’ safety is a priority.

Wolfe: I support the fight Anne Osmundson won to get the school choice bill passed. The AEA reform legislation gives schools the ability to teach healthy materials to students. Parental involvement is key. Continued excellence in special education and the opportunity for changes if needed are also a substantial part of this legislation. I would have fought for better benefits to keep more money in the hands of teachers.

There are differing perspectives on the implementation of automated traffic cameras, especially in smaller communities such as what many in District 64 are. What do you feel are the advantages and disadvantages of using such devices, and what is your ultimate stance on their usage?

Wolfe: I personally don’t like traffic cameras. I feel there are better ways to communicate with drivers such as radar speed trailers which flash vehicles’ speed. However, I also believe photo radar is helpful in areas such as school zones and crosswalks where safety is an issue.
The biggest problem with traffic cameras is how to collect these fines. Constitutionally, these citations are unenforceable without Due Process which is part of the 14th amendment. I’ve seen the legislation for these cameras and there is a lot of work ahead to regulate them.

Gearhart: I am against traffic cameras. They cite the car and not the driver. The burden of proof should fall on the police/camera company to prove who was driving the vehicle. Iowans should be presumed innocent until they are proven to be guilty.
The main advantage of traffic cameras is the revenue they generate. There are some site-specific areas where the cameras have proven to reduce traffic fatalities.
The main disadvantages that I see are that a majority of the communities putting these cameras in are only doing it for the money under the guise of safety. I was the only city council member to vote against bringing these cameras to our town. Our town was short on our budget and the cameras were brought in as a solution to our money problem.
Other issues I have with these cameras are: the camera company isn’t local, the tickets are mailed from out of state, the cameras cite the car and not the driver. Many of the communities with cameras cannot prove an actual safety reason for having them, only hypothetical circumstances why they are necessary (it’s by a park, kids have to cross the street, etc.) and not actual data.

Recent property tax legislation is impacting county and city governments within the District 64 you seek to represent. What do you see as an effective balance between fair taxation and the ability of governing entities to effectively function, especially in smaller rural communities?

Gearhart: As the state seeks to lower taxes so Iowans are able to keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets, it is also important to realize that communities rely on tax dollars to fund the services they provide to the communities they serve.
Towns in our district need to plan for the future. As budgets get tight, it is important that communities are making wise, fiscally-responsible decisions. Communities must try to compete with neighboring communities to bring businesses to town and have enough housing to allow for growth (I know this is much easier said than done).

Wolfe: Iowa ranks 42 out of 50 for the highest property tax rate in the country. Iowa also exempts all Social Security income from income taxes, and as of January 2023, excludes other forms of retirement income. However, it is one of the few states with an inheritance tax. We just saw the loss of the Forest or Fruit Tree Reservation Property Tax Exemption. I would like to see new legislation to reinstate it and create new incentives to manage and replace our natural resources.
I would also like to see lower taxes on business, which historically offers better opportunities to grow business, better employment, and higher revenue. Higher revenue and a reasonable mill rate can lower property tax.

Housing and childcare have been listed as two main concerns for communities within District 64 being able to not just thrive but maybe even survive. How does your candidacy address these concerns?

Wolfe: When it comes to housing, your local realtor should be able to offer different agencies, such as the Iowa Finance Authority which helps Iowans find mortgage or down payment assistance or rental programs that provide affordable homes or helping beginning farmers to land contracts. HUD and the USDA are other great instruments to finding places to purchase or rent in rural Iowa.
It costs Iowa parents on average about $220 a week or $880 a month for childcare for just one child. By focusing on companies providing high-quality, high-paying jobs that incorporate strategies, including childcare within the workplace or at home, is essential to growing Iowa today. Recently, Iowa invested $96 million for the Iowa State Small Business Credit Initiative to help start or expand businesses locally with these types of high-quality, high-paying jobs. We can grow Iowa in rural areas just like metro areas, sometimes without the commute.

Gearhart: This is not only a District 64 issue but one I am hearing across the state. Folks in our district need jobs that provide enough of an economic opportunity to be able to work and afford to pay for childcare. Many communities lack an adequate amount of housing, this is a problem that communities that want to grow and thrive need to address, sooner rather than later.
Some communities are able to help fund community childcare. I believe this, as well as being frugal, looking for grants and making sure daycares have community support, can all be part of the solution.