Candidates in area contested Primary races express views prior to June 2 election

COVID-19 pandemic forces reduction of polling sites to just three, other considerations

Tuesday, June 2 will be the Primary Election to determine which candidates will be representing their respective political parties in the 2020 General Election in November. A sample ballot of the respective races in each of the Republican and Democratic parties was published in the May 20 issue 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, including the polling location time opening at 7 a.m. and closing at 9 p.m. that day and additional information pertaining to the changes needing to be made for this election due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the most significant changes for this year’s election due to COVID-19 will be the reduction in polling sites to just three for the June 2 Primary in an effort to prevent further spread of the virus. Those polling sites include the following:

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Lansing: For voters who normally vote in New Albin, Lansing and Harpers Ferry. This includes the townships of Union City, Iowa, Lansing, Lafayette, Center, Fairview and Taylor, as well as the cities of New Albin, Lansing and Harpers Ferry.
Waukon Banquet Center: For voters who normally vote at the Banquet Center, plus those who normally vote in Waterville, Dorchester and Postville. This includes the townships of French Creek, Makee, most of Jefferson, most of Union Prairie, most of Ludlow, Franklin, Post, Linton, Paint Creek, Waterloo and Hanover, and the cities of Postville and Waterville.

First Baptist Church in Waukon: For voters from all three wards in the City of Waukon, and also the remaining voters from Union Prairie, Ludlow and Jefferson townships that normally vote at NICC, St. John’s Church or the Allamakee County Courthouse in Waukon.
Curbside voting is also an option on election day at each of those three sites. Absentee voting by mail has been encouraged by the Allamakee County Auditor’s Office, with absentee ballots needing to be in the local mail system by Monday, June 1.

In-person absentee voting is also available up until 4 p.m. Monday, June 1 and can either be conducted in the Auditor’s office, curbside by calling 563-568-3522, or entering the south door of the Allamakee County Courthouse during regular business hours and pressing the doorbell located at the hallway table to talk to Auditor’s office staff. The Auditor’s office will also be open this Saturday, May 30 for absentee voting from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

In an effort to help inform voters prior to their venture to the polls June 2, 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 below 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. For example, there are two candidates for Allamakee County Board of Supervisors on each of the Democratic and Republican ballots this year but those ballots instruct voters to vote for no more than one candidate.

Those two races for Allamakee County Board of Supervisors are the only local governmental races featuring contested battles, as Andy Kelleher and Jack Knight are each vying for the Democratic nomination on one ballot and Mark Reiser and Mike Monroe are squaring off for the Republican nomination on the other ballot. The respective winners of those party nominations will then square off in the General Election this November to fill the Board of Supervisors seat currently held by Dennis Koenig, who is not seeking re-election this year.

There are just two other County level offices on this year’s election ballot, both of them involving just one candidate overall and those candidates being current incumbents. Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick and Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer are both running unopposed on the Republican ballot for this year’s Primary Election, with no candidate listed for either office on the Democratic ballot.

The only other contested races by declared candidates on this year's local Primary Election ballots lie on opposite ballots within the Federal level of government. There are no contested Primary races at the State level of government by declared candidates on this year’s local ballots.

Those contested Federal races include a two-candidate battle on the Republican ballot for U.S. Representative District 1, where Thomas Hansen and Ashley Hinson are squaring off for their party’s nomination for the right to take on Democratic incumbent Abby Finkenauer in November’s General Election. The Republican ballot will also include U.S. Senator incumbent Joni Ernst, Iowa House of Representatives District 56 incumbent Anne Osmundson and Iowa Senate District 28 challenger Mike Klimesh all running unopposed for their party’s nomination.

The Democratic Primary ballot features the largest single race on all local ballots for this year’s Primary, as four candidates are still in the running for that party’s nomination for a U.S. Senate seat. Michael Franken, Kimberly Graham, Theresa Greenfield and Eddie Mauro are all seeking that nomination to square off against Ernst in November, with Cal Woods also being listed in that race on this year’s ballot but having dropped out of the race since the ballots were printed.

This year’s Democratic ballot also features a trio of uncontested races. Finkenauer is running unopposed as the U.S. Representative District 1 incumbent, with Matt Tapscott seeking the Democratic nomination for State Senator District 28 and Angela Reed doing likewise for the Iowa House of Representatives District 56.

For the Primary Election, voters must declare themselves either as Republican or Democrat in order to vote. For additional information about the Primary Election, call the Allamakee County Auditor’s Office at 563-568-3522.

Allamakee County Board of Supervisors - Democrats

Please provide some background information about yourself.

Kelleher: I’ve lived in New Albin since 1999 and attended the Eastern Allamakee Community School District for all my K-12 schooling, graduating as co-valedictorian. My mother used to work for Kee High School, and now she is the postmaster in New Albin as well as helping to run Frawley’s Saw Shop and Variety Store alongside my stepfather. My grandfather grew up in Lansing, and I still have many family members in the area.

I am currently the Executive Director of Main Street Lansing, where I promote economic development, historic preservation and tourism in Lansing. Lansing is such a community-minded town, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the people who live there. It has been an honor to serve one of the communities that helped raise me.

Before I worked at Main Street Lansing, I was involved in Christian ministry work. I’ve served on the leadership team at Village Creek Bible Camp and helped develop new churches and college ministries across the nation. I am still actively involved in ministry work, serving as the leader of the middle and high school youth program for Christ Community Evangelical Free Church in New Albin.

I serve on a number of boards and committees that allow me to advocate for Allamakee County. I serve as the County-appointed director to the Eastern Iowa Tourism Association, as well as the Vice President of the Allamakee County Economic Development and Tourism Board of Directors. I am the Vice President of the New Albin Public Library Board, and I served on the task force for the Allamakee County Housing Study. I serve on the Upper Explorerland RPA-1 Transportation Enhancement Committee, and I am a member of the regional roundtables hosted by the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. I also volunteer my time to many community projects, like river clean-ups, playground construction and food drives.

Knight: I was born in Postville, graduated high school in 1971 and from the University of Northern Iowa in 1975. I have three daughters in Madison and Viroqua, WI and British Columbia. My brother, Noel, lives in Elgin and my sister, Janice, lives in Marion. I was brought up in the Presbyterian Church and was deeply influenced by that, as well as the ethic of service by working with my father in the Farmers Coop in Postville.

What do you see as the ultimate responsibility of the County Board of Supervisors to the citizens of this county, and what does your candidacy provide in fulfilling that responsibility?

Knight: There are several basic responsibilities of a Supervisor: Ensuring the County receives all the State and Federal funding it is eligible for and overseeing that it is spent correctly; retaining the best employees, department heads and board members; and balancing the needs of each citizen with the overall needs of the County.

Kelleher: The ultimate responsibility of the Board of Supervisors is to be caretakers of Allamakee County, working together to ensure a balanced budget, safe roads and adequate services for all residents. To achieve that, I will strive to provide a politically neutral environment in order to listen to the concerns of the public and the opinions of the department heads so that we can make decisions that benefit everyone.

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

Kelleher: First and foremost, creating a balanced budget that effectively utilizes taxpayer dollars is the most important task. Doing so allows all of the County Departments to operate properly and maintain the high level of service the people of Allamakee County have come to expect.

I’m very interested in representing Allamakee County on any boards and committees to which I am appointed, especially the County Social Services Board. County Social Services is the organization that manages mental health and disability services for the county; I will get into more details about this organization in the next question.

It’s also important to be a helpful liaison between the people of Allamakee County and the state government, giving our citizens a voice in Des Moines. Through my work with Main Street Lansing, I already have a taste of this role; Main Street Lansing is a member of Main Street Iowa, which is a part of the Iowa Economic Development Authority. As such, I have a direct line to Des Moines and am often among the first to hear about statewide economic development initiatives; this professional relationship also allows me to advocate for local businesses.

Knight: I would continue the ongoing record of good county governance. I have no particular issue or personal agenda I am bringing with me. I have an excellent resumé of experience serving on county and regional boards in conservation and economic development. That is what I am running on, my resumé, my desire to serve, and the chance to help leave Allamakee County in better shape for future generations.

What do you see as the most challenging issues facing Allamakee County - now and in the future, and what does your candidacy offer in addressing those issues?

Knight: The single most urgent issue facing the county is the increase in soil erosion the last few years. We are losing soil faster than it is being made. If elected, I can retain my current position as chairman of the Allamakee County Soil and Water Conservation District Board. I also hope to gain credibility as a community leader through my Supervisors position to form a grass-based beef niche market growers group that would address soil erosion by converting eroding fields to hay and pasture.

In addition, there are ongoing challenges of obtaining Federal and State monies, retaining good County employees, balancing individual and County interests, and overseeing and making budgets. My extensive experience serving the county is what I can offer to address these issues.

Kelleher: The legacy impacts of COVID-19 will likely be felt in Allamakee County for years after the main crisis has passed. Restricted travel and self-quarantines will reduce revenue for businesses (loss of sales), municipal governments (loss of hotel/motel funds), and the County (loss of road use tax dollars). The Governor will slowly open the businesses again, but it will take some time before the consumer confidence returns.

Most estimates say travel will take at least a year to bounce back. My experience in economic development will be invaluable on the Board of Supervisors as we seek to move the county forward, crafting a budget that maintains all the County services without sacrificing quality or efficiency. Through my work with Main Street Lansing, I’ve already been addressing as many of these issues as I can; I’ve been constantly searching for grant opportunities, lobbying Des Moines for more aid, and working with other communities to find ways to support our towns.

We are also in the midst of a mental health crisis, not just in Allamakee County but throughout the whole state of Iowa. People in rural Iowa struggle to receive adequate mental health care, due to a lack of facilities and funds. Oftentimes, police officers are called upon to monitor individuals in crisis or transport those individuals to mental health beds which could be located on the other side of the state, which delays the care the person in crisis needs and puts undue strain on our County peace officers.

County Social Services, our mental health and disability services region, already does a great job providing local services and resources to people in need. I would like to carry that torch and continue to advocate for people in crisis, whether through expanding local services, informing the public of available services, or lobbying the State to allocate more funding to mental health and disability service initiatives.

What do you see as Allamakee County’s greatest assets, and what would you bring to the Board of Supervisors to maintain or enhance those assets and use them to help Allamakee County grow?

Kelleher: Without question, the greatest things about Allamakee County are the people and the land. People could argue that the term “Iowa nice” was invented in honor of the people of Allamakee County. I have always excelled at listening to people from all backgrounds and schools of thought, and I would love the opportunity to serve our citizens and ensure a high quality of life for them.

Our land is a fantastic asset. Our farmland is important and makes up a large amount of our land, and we also live in the best natural playground in the state of Iowa. We have hills, bluffs, rivers, a state forest, and the only National Monument in the state, which attract visitors and residents who are drawn to the hiking, birding, hunting, fishing and boating opportunities. We need to care for these resources so that people can continue to work the land, enjoy the recreation, and move here to be closer to both types of opportunity. On the Board of Supervisors, we can protect the land use by carefully considering any new development, and we can ensure access to the entire county by maintaining our secondary road system.

Knight: Our greatest asset as of late is the lack of partisanship in County governance. I do not come to this opportunity to serve with any partisan attitude, only to serve the best interest of the county, with a particular emphasis on what sort of legacy we leave behind for future generations.

Allamakee County Board of Supervisors - Republicans

Please provide some background information about yourself.

Monroe: I’ve been a lifelong resident of Allamakee County, and I am 66 years old and a graduate of Kee High School in Lansing. I’ve been married to my wife, Suzanne, for 46 years, and we have three children. I’ve farmed in the Lansing and Postville areas and owned property in Lansing, Ludlow and Post Townships.

Along with my family, we’ve owned and operated Monroe Auction Service for the past 21 years. I have served on the Allamakee County Pork Producers, ISU Extension Council and Allamakee County Fair Board. I am a member of the Iowa and Wisconsin Auctioneer Associations and a member of St. Bridget Catholic Church in Postville.

Reiser: I was born and raised here in Allamakee County, and graduated from Waukon High School. My wife, Nancy (also a lifelong county resident), and I take part in community functions in the area. We have raised four daughters on our family farm; after 31 years of dairy farming we currently have a beef and crop farming operation. Allamakee County is our home and always will be.

What do you see as the ultimate responsibility of the County Board of Supervisors to the citizens of this county, and what does your candidacy provide in fulfilling that responsibility?

Reiser: A County Supervisor is responsible to listen to the community members’ wants, needs and ideas before making decisions that affect them. I also feel the Supervisor has a responsibility to help oversee and guide our County Departments. For the last 40 years, I have been a responsible business owner and operator. This has provided me with experiences where I have been fiscally responsible during tough times.

Monroe: To work toward the continued growth of our county, both rural and urban, large and small, while being fiscally responsible and using common sense. I believe as a candidate I bring common sense, along with the ability to work with people, as well as managing day-to-day business.

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

Monroe: While I realize that projects within the county need to be projected on future dates - three-year, five-year, seven-year or whatever, I feel these projects need to become more transparent at the time they are put on those lists. Too often these projects are not explained until they are ready to start, and then the explanation is that it was on such and such a plan.

Reiser: If elected I feel the highest priority will be to not overspend the currently available tax dollars by prioritizing what needs to be done at this time versus what can be delayed to a later time when the funding is available. I also feel maintaining the county’s secondary roads and bridges is a priority to keep our community strong.

What do you see as the most challenging issues facing Allamakee County - now and in the future, and what does your candidacy offer in addressing those issues?

Reiser: The most challenging issue facing us will be the shortage of tax dollars related to COVID-19, which will be placing financial stress on our community. The emphasis will be placed on doing the high priority jobs to start with, as to not further raise the tax burden. We also need to encourage new businesses to open in our communities to provide additional services and jobs.

Monroe: The current pandemic will no doubt cause local economic stress that will need to be dealt with. Beyond that, I see a major need to improve our County gravel roads and make sure our bridges are well maintained. These roads are the arteries that carry the life of the county. Whether it is ag, tourism or emergency, these roads are carrying more traffic, more weight and larger equipment. The old “throw out a little more gravel” will not work. We need to look to other types of surfacing. I know it will take time, but we must start.

What do you see as Allamakee County’s greatest assets, and what would you bring to the Board of Supervisors to maintain or enhance those assets and use them to help Allamakee County grow?

Monroe: Our greatest assets are our people, agriculture and tourism. I believe we can be balanced if we work together. I am open to all and willing to work with all. Ag is a major part of our county; tourism brings in outside dollars; and our people keep the county going. As a footnote, I would like to try and open a conversation to try and open at least some of the thousands of acres of State-owned public land to hiking, horses, UTVs and snowmobile trails. These lands are public.

Reiser: A major portion of our county’s financial and social resources are grounded in agriculture, along with the businesses supporting and developing it. Almost everyone has a relationship with agriculture no matter where they live. I will do my part to promote local commerce and provide support to those within our community.
We live in a beautiful part of northeast Iowa with multiple rivers, parks and trails used for recreational activities by our county citizens as well as visitors. I will make the maintenance and development of these locations a priority when addressing outdoor opportunities in Allamakee County.

U.S. Senator - Democrats

Could you provide some background information about yourself that would help establish your connection to the area you seek to represent?

Franken: I was born in rural Sioux County, the youngest of nine children. I joined the U.S. Navy and retired 37 years later as a vice-admiral. I am rural Iowa and a lifetime of service. I spent the 1980s at sea, the 1990s learning Washington, D.C, and the 2000s fighting our wars on terror in the field. When Donald Trump was elected president, I retired. I had no interest in working for him.

I’m running for the Senate because if Donald Trump wins again, we had best own the Senate. And if Joe Biden is our next president, we can fix the big problems that face us: ensuring universal access to healthcare, beating climate change this generation, and rolling back special interests from our politics.

The foundational philosophy of my campaign is simple: a continuation of 37 years of service and the knowledge that Iowa values are synonymous with good governance.

Graham: No reply received.

Greenfield: I’m a businesswoman, a mother of four, and a scrappy farm kid, and I’m running to put Iowa first. I’m in this race because I believe Washington should work more like our small towns, small businesses and farms here in Iowa, where we get through tough times by putting politics aside and pulling together. And right now, we need leaders who know what it’s like to go through those tough times and to come out stronger.

I’ve been a business leader and a working mom, making tough decisions to keep the lights on and sign paychecks. I have had the same difficult conversations that working families are having around the kitchen table today. I came of age during the farm crisis, and my family felt the pain our farmers are feeling today. I know what it’s like to turn to Social Security for a hand up, because it was there for me when my first husband died and I became a young widow with a 13-month-old and another one on the way.

Iowans know that they can count on me to fight for them. It’s how our campaign has built the strongest grassroots team in this race, including endorsements from dozens of leaders across our state and from 24 local labor unions and organizations representing tens of thousands of Iowa workers. Here’s my promise in this race: I’ll never forget where I come from or who I’m fighting for.

Mauro: As a lifelong Iowan, I have deep roots across this state. Whether it is teaching kids in Seymour, coaching kids in football and baseball in Des Moines, co-founding the advocacy group AMOS,  or providing services to small businesses in every county in the state, I have deep, personal connections across this state. More than anyone in this primary, I have been on the front lines in advocating for Iowans for decades. My body of work speaks for itself, and it makes me uniquely qualified to take on Joni this fall.

The COVID-19 pandemic is obviously foremost on all people’s minds. What is your greatest concern with the pandemic as far as the health of the people of our state and this nation are concerned, and what do you feel is the most effective means to not only remedy the current health crisis but also to prevent/navigate any in the future?

Graham: No reply received.

Greenfield: I’m glad Congress passed the CARES Act, but I’m frustrated it took so long for Washington to act, and that they still haven’t done enough to protect our workers and small businesses.

I’ve put out two plans of my own for making sure we’re giving our frontline workers and small businesses the help they need to get through this crisis. It starts with making sure our frontline workers have daily testing, use the Defense Production Act to provide more PPE, expand direct payments to workers and small businesses, expand paid sick leave, and ensure more accountability for taxpayers. I’ve also called for Emergency Temporary Standards to protect workers at places like our meat processing plants. Essential workers need essential protections.

I’m also focused on the future. We need to make sure our public health experts have the resources they need to do their jobs effectively, and we need to work to restore trust in government, which is why I’ve called for an investigation into politicians in Washington who used their offices to try to profit off this public health crisis.

Mauro: I was the first candidate to see the writing on the wall, and I refused to put my employees in harm’s way weeks before any other candidate pulled their field staff from knocking doors, or canceled events. As someone who has worked with small businesses in crises for decades, I have a unique understanding of how to approach situations like COVID with the leadership we are lacking from Reynolds and Ernst.

My greatest concern for our state is that we are reopening too early. Reynolds and Ernst seem far too interested in capitulating to the demands of Tyson, Smithfield and JB than protecting their constituents. Holding the axe of losing unemployment benefits over thousands of Iowans’ heads is not only deeply immoral but also makes them responsible for every additional death that will result from their poor leadership.

Franken: My greatest concern is that our leaders aren’t prepared to bring us out of this crisis. During a crisis, especially a crisis of this severity, there is no alternative to leadership, experience and vision. Unfortunately, political decisions have taken precedence over workers and their families. Our governor is insistent on opening the state as local experts and the CDC frantically urge otherwise. And, indefensibly, Joni Ernst is declaring that “Iowa has fared pretty well” despite what we know to be true: Iowa is still in a crisis. And the worst is still to come.

A lack of leadership may come from a lack of experience, as well. I’m no stranger to dealing with disasters, pandemics or other crises. Hurricanes have slammed economies, and, working for the Department of Defense, I helped rebuild them. Ebola decimated communities and, working in the Pentagon and in Africa, I helped rally the international efforts to save them. I’ve been here before.

I am the only candidate with the experience to lead Iowans out of this crisis.

The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is also of great concern to both our state and nation. What do you feel is the best path to recovery from the economic crisis created by this virus, and how can we help shore up our finances to weather any such type of reoccurrence?

Greenfield: First of all, Congress should continue working to protect our essential workers and make sure our small businesses can stay afloat. I’ve called for Washington to pass ramped-up testing and manufacturing of PPE, and more direct payments to workers and small businesses.

I also believe we can create more good-paying jobs and opportunities for our hometowns when we get through this crisis by passing a robust infrastructure plan - including our crumbling roads and bridges and high-speed rural broadband - and expanding access to capital for our small businesses.

As a businesswoman, I don’t want to see a single taxpayer dollar go to waste. But Senator Ernst voted for a tax bill that gave massive breaks to big corporations and the wealthiest Americans, blowing a $2 trillion hole in the federal deficit and threatening programs like Social Security and Medicare that hardworking Iowans rely on. I want to end the handouts to big corporations, and make sure our focus is on supporting working families and small businesses who need a hand up, and investing in more opportunities in all of our hometowns.

Mauro: The path to recovery is through our workers and our small businesses. We cannot be mistaken, our small business owners and the working class are the bedrock of our economy. The PPP has been woefully inadequate. Beyond the PPP, we need UBI in any pandemic situation that is at least $2,000 per month (inflation-adjusted).

Republicans will undoubtedly say that they are concerned about the deficit. But where was their concern when they gave the most wealthy corporations and individuals the biggest tax break since Reagan? To be clear, their claims are nothing more than a paper tiger. We need to balance the budget, but that happens on the backs of the GOP donors that benefit the most from the current economic system. Those that have made their billions on the backs of working people should be responsible for maintaining the equality and engines that keep it functioning.

Franken: Our best path to recovery is to create a robust testing regime and after the crisis, to invest in a green infrastructure bill. Iowa has the worst bridges in the country. Let’s rebuild every one of them while assuring carbon neutrality. Let’s replace our energy with all green technology. In the post-COVID America, these jobs will exist for Americans to help build a new country.

Graham: No reply received.

Aside from the COVID-19 pandemic, what do you feel are the greatest concerns facing our nation, and what does your candidacy offer in helping address and alleviate those concerns?

Mauro: The biggest issue facing our nation right now by far is our climate crisis. If we do not solve our climate crisis, none of the legislation we enact on healthcare, tax policy, agriculture and more will have any effect.
Climate change is an existential threat to our way of life. I support the Green New Deal, but we need to go beyond that. I want to make sure our farmers are able to integrate regenerative agriculture into their practice, and that they are compensated for the carbon capture and ecological benefits they are providing to the entire world.

Franken: Our biggest concerns are ensuring universal access to healthcare, beating climate change now, and getting special interests out of our politics. For healthcare, I offer the legislative experience necessary to write and pass legislation that will affect so many Americans. For climate change, I offer the scientific and rural background that will be necessary to bring our farmers to the table. And to fight special interests, I’m not owned by anybody. When I voted against the Iraq War in 2002, I showed that I make courageous decisions based on the facts. I’m ready to do so as your Senator.

Graham: No reply received.

Greenfield: No matter who I’m talking to or where in Iowa they’re from, the issues I hear about are the same: protecting and expanding access to high quality health care and bringing down the costs of prescription drugs, investing in education and skills training, creating good-paying jobs and opportunities in our hometowns, and taking urgent climate action.

But we’re not going to be able to address any of these challenges facing our communities unless we end the political corruption in Washington. I’m not taking one dime of corporate PAC money and I’ve put out a plan to end the influence of corporate PACs, banning dark money, and closing the revolving door.

I also want to get to work protecting our health care system - including the Medicaid expansion that’s been a lifeline for our community hospitals - as well as creating a public health insurance option and allowing Medicare to negotiate prices with drug companies to bring down costs. I’ll work to invest in debt-free skills training and community college, and work to pass a robust infrastructure package that creates good jobs across our state.

What do you feel the role of the United States should be on the world stage, and are there certain areas where you feel we need to be more or less involved?

Franken: Donald Trump has done America a great injury by going it alone. By withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, the Iran Deal, weakening NATO, NAFTA, free trade - not to mention defunding the WHO in a pandemic - Donald Trump has shown that America First means America Alone.
I am the only candidate with the experience to help improve our international reputation. My international perspective and diplomatic relationships will help me reach out to our allies to fix our big problems, like beating climate change, assuring our security, and overcoming the coronavirus.

Graham: No reply received.

Greenfield: As the proud mother of a son in the U.S. Army, my first priority will be keeping Americans safe. I think if there’s any area where leaders on both sides of the aisle should be able to put politics aside and work together, it should be this.
I’ll also work to strengthen our relationships around the world to grow our economy. Our farmers are facing tough times. They deserve a fair shot and their markets back. I also support re-entering international agreements to address climate change.

Mauro: The United States has been too involved in wars that are unnecessary, based on false pretense, and do not make our homeland safer. I exclusively support military action only when every diplomatic action has been exhausted and in cases where there is clear evidence of human rights violations. The United States needs to lead by example.

District 1 U.S. Representative - Republicans

Could you provide some background information about yourself that would help establish your connection to the area you seek to represent?

Hansen: I was born in Lindenhurst, Long Island, NY and raised in Las Vegas, NV. I ended up in Iowa because my neighbors in Las Vegas were an intern minister and his wife from Decorah and when it came time to move back they had a friend, Jeanett, come out to help. I met her the last day she was there when they needed help loading heavy items onto the U-Haul. We stayed up all night talking and in the morning she got in the truck and left. That was Monday, on Friday I flew into La Crosse, WI, drove down to Decorah and asked her to marry me. December 26, 2019 we celebrated 32 years of marriage.

We moved back to Decorah in 1989 to help her parents on the farm which has been in their family since 1872. I started Hansen Refrigeration, which has served northeast Iowa for 30 plus years now. When her dad, Howard, one of the founders of the Hereford Association here in Iowa, passed away, we took over the cattle business and using my connections with local restaurants and her now 45 years experience in the meat business, started Rock Cedar Ranch All-Natural Beef and certified our ranch as organic. Jeanett now sells to several area restaurants and many local customers. We have one daughter, Addie Rose, the fifth generation raised on the ranch, who graduated from Luther College and is currently a nurse in Rochester, MN.

I have been heavily involved in local politics the entire time. I have written over 200 letters to the editor on different topics, been able to have several property laws rewritten to better protect citizens’ rights, started the NEIowa Tea Party, resurrected the Winneshiek County Republican Party, served on the Republican State Platform Committee for eight years and assisted in rewriting the platform to better represent the people’s will, been a volunteer EMT and have been in charge of the Decorah Area Thanksgiving Dinner for almost two decades now.

Hinson: I am an Iowa native and longtime resident of eastern Iowa. I am currently a State Representative for the 67th House District which covers Hiawatha, Robins, Cedar Rapids and Marion. Prior to serving in the Iowa House, I was an award-winning reporter and anchor for KCRG-TV9 in Cedar Rapids.

Over the course of the past decade in Linn County, I have volunteered for various organizations including Antioch Christian Church, March of Dimes, Young Parents Network and other charities. I currently live in Marion with my husband, Matt, and our two sons.

The COVID-19 pandemic is obviously foremost on all people’s minds. What is your greatest concern with the pandemic as far as the health of the people of our state and this nation are concerned, and what do you feel is the most effective means to not only remedy the current health crisis but also to prevent/navigate any in the future?

Hinson: My greatest concern in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic is the health and safety of all Iowans. Our scientists and health care heroes are working on life saving treatments and pushing to find a vaccine every day. We need to support them and give them the resources they need.

We also need to expand testing so we can isolate and better track those who are sick and prevent community spread. There is no simple answer to stopping COVID-19 or preventing future pandemics but any steps in the right direction will be with cooperation between the government and the private sector.

Hansen: Establishing a course of action based on emotions and opinions has been my greatest concern since it started. It started panic and hoarding while government agencies at the State and Federal level ignored the facts and did not do logical things like shutter nursing homes and quarantine high risk individuals fast enough because they were arguing with one another about who had authority over what. This includes here in Iowa between the Iowa Department of Public Health and Iowa Department of Homeland Security who sometimes did not even know what the other one was doing. Emotional reactions have also led to the improper use of personal protective equipment by citizens which has given them a false sense of security while doing basically nothing medically to prevent anything.

I believed in the approach of South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (and Sweden) that provided effective measures for the health and safety of her citizens while still upholding their Constitutional Rights. I believe that the psychological, physical and economic effects of how this situation was handled will prove to be far worse than the virus itself.

As the flu season occurs annually, sometimes killing over 100,000 Americans, unfortunately without anyone blinking an eye or toilet paper disappearing off the shelves, shutting down the economy like this is not a viable option and I think that putting an emphasis on personal responsibility during these times while allowing life to continue is the proper course of action. No one is ever happy about death but it is a natural part of life and we must not let others use it to promote any political agenda.

The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is also of great concern to both our state and nation. What do you feel is the best path to recovery from the economic crisis created by this virus, and how can we help shore up our finances to weather any such type of reoccurrence?

Hansen: There is no way to “shore up” anyone’s finances against a shutdown of the economy, and that is why we must never do it again. What we need to do now to remedy this situation is to open Iowa and America back up. This idea of opening certain areas and thinking that people from closed areas are not going to venture out to them has already been proven idiotic at best. Precautions, personal responsibility and life returning to normal, and not a “new normal”, is the answer.

Hinson: I want to get our state open as quickly and as safely as possible. The economic pain caused by COVID-19 is real and personal for every Iowan and it gets worse every day that we are closed. But the health and safety of our citizens has to be our number-one priority when finding the balance of reopening our state for business.

Not all businesses will open on the same schedule. There is not a one-size-fits all approach and not a single solution. We can do this thoughtfully, responsibly and using all the scientific resources at our disposal to make sound decisions.

We also need to make sure our small businesses have all the support they need. That’s why I have been calling out the big banks for giving preferential treatment to large businesses when distributing PPP loans. Those loans were meant to help our small businesses, the heart and soul of Iowa’s economy stay afloat. They were not meant to pad the pockets of publicly traded companies. Iowa’s agriculture economy has also been hit hard by the pandemic. Our farmers need to be supported during this pandemic by ensuring they have full access to Economic Injury Disaster Loans.

Aside from the COVID-19 pandemic, what do you feel are the greatest concerns facing our nation, and what does your candidacy offer in helping address and alleviate those concerns?

Hinson: I’m running for Congress because I am worried about the direction our country is headed. The bickering and dysfunction in Washington is outrageous. We need new leaders who know how to solve problems and will focus on issues that really matter to Iowa families like stopping big Pharma and lowering the cost of healthcare for families. The out of control prescription drug prices affect all Iowans but especially seniors and Iowans on a fixed income.

We also need to solve the immigration crisis. Washington has been trying to solve the immigration issue for decades and they have done nothing, now we have a humanitarian crisis at our southern border, rampant human trafficking and yet we have not fixed our legal immigration system and places like Iowa aren’t getting their workforce needs met. When I’m in Congress I will work across the aisle to find solutions. We can no longer pass the buck and I won’t.

As Iowa and the nation goes back to work in the wake of COVID-19 it is critical that we fight against burdensome and unnecessary regulations that hinder our farmers and our businesses.  We can’t create a climate that only rewards the big companies who can afford the lobbyists and the lawyers. We need to encourage innovation, not stifle it. When I’m in Congress I will remember that small businesses and farmers are the engine of Iowa’s economy and will fight to cut the red tape in their way.

Hansen: My greatest concern is the slow creep of socialism into the fabric of American society as predicted by such people as F.A. Hayek, ‘The Road to Serfdom,’ and Henry Hazlitt, ‘Economics in One Lesson’. It is a cancer that must be stopped and I have already made it abundantly clear I will not “reach across the aisle” or “work with” anyone that does not work within the constraints of the Constitution. Appeasement has never worked in the history of the world and always makes matters worse.

Compromising the Ideals and Principles on which the United States was founded and achieved greatness in such a short span of time is not an option. The same applies to the continuation of cronyism in our free market society.

As far as my plans, unlike any of my opponents on either side of the aisle, I have committed mine to writing and they may be read by all at If I could only accomplish one thing during my tenure though, it would be term limits for House and Senate members as I believe that is the key to everything.

What do you feel the role of the United States should be on the world stage, and are there certain areas where you feel we need to be more or less involved?

Hansen: As far as America’s role on the world stage, I see it more as a parent and not a policeman. We must be there to assist and nurture the causes of liberty while dispensing discipline when necessary as the world never needs another Hitler. We do not need to be involved in every regional conflict and must encourage and assist those with more skin in the game to do more.

There are certainly nations like England and Israel that we have a much closer bond to and they should never be made to doubt our commitment to them. We are the world’s only true superpower but never has a nation with so much power abused it so little.

Hinson: American leadership is needed on the world stage and when it is not provided a void is filled and not always by those who have the citizens’ best interests in mind. A strong American presence does not mean we need to engage in every conflict around the world. But it is critical that we are clear in our intentions and that our allies know we will support them.

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