Candidates in contested races express views prior to November 3 election

Tuesday, November 3 is scheduled as the General Election to determine which candidates will be elected by voters to leadership positions at the national, state and local levels of government. Although polling sites will be open at eight different locations that Election Day for in-person voting, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a strong demand for absentee voting again for this General Election, as it had for the Primary Election held earlier this year.

INFORMED CHOICES - EARLIER
Absentee voting was able to begin Monday, October 5 and the Allamakee County Auditor’s Office was able to begin mailing out requested absentee ballots that day as well, with Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer reporting that her office has received nearly 2,800 requests for absentee ballots for the upcoming General Election.

With that demand for absentee ballots, The Standard has opted to publish its usual candidate questionnaire earlier than in previous elections, in the interest of informing voters who may be utilizing the absentee balloting to cast their vote early, as well as for those seeking additional information about candidates in order to conduct further research prior to voting on the November 3 General Election Day. The series of questions asked and each candidate’s responses to those questions begin on the front page of this week’s edition and continue to additional pages throughout this week’s issue.

The questionnaires were sent to candidates who are vying for a position that had more 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 this year but the ballot instructs voters to vote for no more than one candidate.

ABSENTEE VOTING
The deadline to submit an Absentee Ballot Request form to the Allamakee County Auditor’s Office for a ballot to be mailed is Saturday, October 24 at 5 p.m. Request forms can be hand delivered to the Allamakee County Auditor’s office in the Allamakee County Courthouse in Waukon, mailed to 110 Allamakee Street, Waukon, IA 52172, or dropped in the exterior drop-off box now located outside the south entrance door of the courthouse.

In-person absentee voting began Monday, October 5 at the courthouse, and ends Monday, November 2 at 5 p.m. The hours of in-person absentee voting will be Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Also, residents can vote in person at the courthouse during two upcoming Saturdays, October 24 and October 31, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The Auditor’s office requests that voters bring their own blue or black ink pen when they come to vote, due to COVID-19.

ID REQUIRED
Iowa law now requires all in-person voters to show an ID. Voters need to bring an ID with them to vote either at the courthouse prior to Election Day or at the polls on Election Day.

POLLING PLACES
For the November 3 General Election, there will be eight of the normal 11 polling locations open in Allamakee County Election Day, November 3. The normal sites at Dorchester, New Albin, Lansing (IC Catholic Church), Harpers Ferry and Waterville will be open.

In Postville there will be one site at Memorial Hall for all voters in Post and Franklin Townships and in the City of Postville.

In Waukon, the Banquet Center will be open as normal for voters in French Creek, Makee and most of Jefferson, Ludlow and Union Prairie townships. One other location will be open in Waukon at First Baptist Church, which will combine the three Waukon Wards and the remaining few voters from Jefferson, Ludlow and Union Prairie townships. This same combined polling place was used for the Primary Election for all City of Waukon voters, right next door to the Banquet Center.

CURBSIDE VOTING
Curbside voting will be an option at all polling locations on Election Day. Anyone who is diagnosed with COVID-19 or is quarantined in the days leading up to November 3 and has not voted absentee can use the curbside voting option, with poll workers trained on how to bring a ballot to curbside and protect themselves in all ways possible. This possibility of being quarantined or becoming ill with COVID-19 near the election is a good reason to consider voting absentee by mail, or voting absentee in-person, to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

Those who have election questions should call the Allamakee County Auditor’s office at 563-568-3522.

 

U.S. SENATOR

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

Ernst: I have spent my life in service to Iowa and our country. I was raised on a small Iowa farm, worked my way through college, then dedicated my life to serving my country, as a local official, a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard and as senator. Serving the people of Iowa has always been, and remains, my purpose.
Every year I meet with folks in every single county in Iowa on what I call my “99 County Tour.” It was such a pleasure to stop by Waukon in September this year when I visited the WW Homestead Dairy.
In the senate, I work every day across the aisle to get results for Iowa. More than 60 percent of my bills have bipartisan support. Georgetown University ranked me one of the most bipartisan senators, from any state, of the last 25 years. The results of that work are clear: I’m a champion for farmers, and rural Iowa, and am proud to have the endorsements of the Iowa Farm Bureau and the Iowa Corn Growers Association because of my work for our rural communities.
As a survivor of sexual assault and domestic violence, I’m a tireless advocate for women and abuse survivors. I’m working on behalf of our veterans and families and am a fighter for Iowa jobs. I will take on any country, regulation, or tax that would slow down our recovery and our growth. I am proud of what we’ve accomplished but there is so much more to do. And so, I’m humbly asking to let me keep serving, and keep fighting, for Iowa.

Greenfield: I’m in this race to put hardworking Iowans first. As a proud farm kid and product of the farm crisis, I know what it’s like for our farm communities to struggle like they are today. When my first husband died in an accident at his job as a union electrician, it was Social Security Survivor benefits and hard-earned union benefits that got me back on my feet.
I put myself through school, attended community college, and worked part-time jobs. I was a community planner for 14 years, learning how problems are solved at the local level, and I ran a small business, where I signed paychecks and worked to keep the lights on. I’ve been through tough times, never given up and personally understand the struggles our working families are facing today. I’ll use that experience to fight for our workers, farmers and small businesses.

Herzog: I was born in Cedar Rapids and raised just outside of the northeast side of town along Rural Route #1. My parents had the seven of us kids in less than ten years, and also took in foster children for Iowa DHS, in addition to a few pregnant women for an organization called Birthright, and later exchange students from several different countries. The Herzog family name comes from some of Iowa’s original homesteaders, German-immigrant farmers near Cresco. My grandfather left the farm and sold encyclopedias to earn his way through medical school in Milwaukee and became a surgeon, eventually opening a proctology clinic there.
You’d be right to assume this is likely a good place to end that story, but when Grandpa Herzog retired, he would spend most every summer with us, tending to our gigantic organic vegetable garden and repairing things in the house and yard as if he had never left the farm. Even though Grandpa knew German, he taught me a little Spanish that he had picked up after retiring to Arizona.
I detassled corn to earn my way to Costa Rica when I was 16 years old to be an exchange student. Scholarship opportunities in the public-school system enabled me to spend the next summer in Mexico to keep working on my Spanish, and I got my college education started early the summer after graduation with an American Cancer Society scholarship to the University of Iowa. I met my husband, who was from Puerto Rico, in Iowa City and we lived for brief periods of time in Puerto Rico, Cedar Rapids and Miami before finally settling down to raise our two children in West Des Moines in 1995.
I have attended the two largest community colleges and public universities in the state, graduating from Iowa State as an economist in 2009 after studying with many young farmers and business-ag students. Before that I worked as an emergency department nurse for over 15 years in Iowa’s busiest ER at Mercy in Des Moines. I took care of people in crisis from every demographic group: children, the elderly, homeless, and those struggling with mental-health crises and drug addictions, along with victims of domestic violence, street violence, and those injured in workplace and farm accidents. I received some of my nursing training at the VA hospital in Iowa City, and took care of veterans for my first RN job in San Juan, PR.
I have worked and studied in Washington D.C. with several federal statistical government agencies, which actually gives me great insights into the data that impacts Iowans’ lives. As a Medical Reserve Corps responder, I have worked with FEMA to provide disaster relief and also worked with the Iowa Department of Public health during the pandemic to help test people at meat-packing plants, and relieve ill and overworked nursing staff at three of Iowa’s long-term care facilities.
While campaigning I met people in-person from all 99 counties before February. I have stayed engaged with community groups, farmers, healthcare providers, small-business owners, cooperatives, educators and countless others throughout the state.

Stewart: I’m a direct descendant of Barnard Slater Merriam, who moved to Iowa in 1856. One of his grandfathers fought in the Revolutionary War, on the winning side. As for me, I was born in Postville, where my father was the high school ag teacher. I’m connected to the entire country, the entire state, and especially to Postville, which will always be my home town.

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?

Greenfield: I’ve put out two plans to put our working families and small businesses first during the fight against COVID-19. I’ve called for more paid sick leave for workers, more expanded unemployment benefits and direct payments, relief for small businesses, and help for state and local governments. I also called for a statewide mask mandate to prevent further spread of this deadly virus and get our economy back on track.
I’ve also trusted our doctors, nurses and public health experts. Frankly, I’ve been frustrated with leaders at the state and federal level that we haven’t gotten transparency or clear guidance about how to combat this pandemic. We all want to go back to normal, but the only way we can get there is by listening to and following the advice of public health experts.

Herzog: I am very concerned about our lack of collaboration with international disease experts early on in the pandemic. We are paying the price for early CDC decisions to not implement reliable testing developed in Germany back in February that the WHO has approved for international use. We lost precious weeks, if not months, while we bungled the development and distribution of our own testing process - an unnecessary risk to take. (I often refer to Germany as an example to explain healthcare reform proposals and what we learn from their efficient, well-resourced and effective many-payer system.)
Even though we are not bordering as many countries as our European allies do, we need to recognize how important international collaboration is to manage threats like global pandemics better. By the end of May, Germany was testing 16-18 people for every positive COVID case found and we were only testing about seven. By that time opportunities to contain regional spread with testing and contact tracing were more limited, so then we should have more rapidly directed resources to protect our most vulnerable populations.
Most countries failed to effectively protect elderly populations, though Germany and South Korea did a better job than most. Germany, like other countries, struggled with effectively protecting immigrant populations and meat processors, much like our experience here in Iowa. We need to continue to collaborate and share information and best practices among our states and internationally to recover sooner.
The U.S. is leading the world in investment in the development of a vaccine. By the time it is available, our National Institutes of Health (NIH), our great higher-education health research facilities and agencies such as the Department of Health will be prepared to guide us in fair and effective vaccine distribution to protect the most vulnerable among us. We may discover a lesser distribution requirement than anticipated due to immunity developing in a significant portion of the population, but it is too early to tell. I follow the rapidly growing wealth of new information from the NIH along with reputable international health resources so that I am prepared to understand future guidance.
Considering options for future responses as a long-time healthcare provider and an economist, I believe government is at its best when it provides reliable information and helps people access the resources they need to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. National level response is best when it coordinates access to limited resources and provides consistent guidelines and expert support.
Our National Disaster Recovery Framework includes six federal agencies that have access to data from local communities: FEMA as part of Homeland Security, Economic Development as part of Department of Commerce, Army Corps of Engineers as part of Department of Defense, etc. As Senator, I would provide Congressional oversight to ensure that these entities have an appointed pandemic response coordinator to collaborate with the other agencies for the most regionally-targeted and effective responses and this framework is designed to support local communities in preparedness as well as response.
I would also include the USDA in this framework to help coordinate responses to food insecurity throughout the supply chain and to facilitate rapid response to containing livestock epidemics and disease transmission. If properly organized, this framework could be authorized to be mobilized more quickly with pre-funding so more well-informed, targeted responses are not held up waiting on legislative action.

Stewart: I have had COVID myself, fortunately my symptoms were a couple hours with a 100.6 degree fever and two days when I didn’t want to go outside and do anything. Many people around the world have not been so fortunate, which saddens all of our hearts.
I think it is shameful the way politicians have turned a deadly virus into a political football. They should all keep their mouths shut and let the relevant scientists - epidemiologists and economists - do the talking. I’ll honor that opinion by not answering any more of this question.

Ernst: The COVID-19 pandemic is an extraordinary crisis, and it has required an extraordinary response. That’s why I’ve worked with Democrats and Republicans to quickly pass major bipartisan legislation to get aid out to Iowa families, small businesses and our communities. In addition, the administration has been moving quickly on Operation Warp Speed, which is using public-private partnerships to get a vaccine out to the American people as soon as possible.
In Iowa, I’ve been working closely with Governor Kim Reynolds who has shown strong leadership making the necessary tough and thoughtful decisions. I’m proud of how Iowa has led, and I’ll continue working to get the needed resources for farmers, small businesses, families and more.

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?

Herzog: The Federal Reserve has already taken historic action not only because of the economic shock of the pandemic, but because of adverse impacts from the trade war that put us in a more vulnerable economic position before COVID-19. I do not believe the Fed should intervene with more monetary policy interventions if it can be avoided. Congress needs to step up with additional, urgent, comprehensive fiscal support.
As a completely non-partisan Senator, I will be among the most well-positioned to tackle dysfunctional gridlock in Washington. I will work tirelessly to sponsor companion legislation as soon as possible to any House bill that addresses urgent recovery issues- - from additional recovery aid, to infrastructure investments. I believe legislators should more often be simplifying and focusing broader proposals to get started deliberating as soon as possible, and to find the most reasonable and actionable middle-ground. I believe we could rapidly pass federal support for state unemployment (UI) benefits if it is based on states’ unemployment rates since some states have industries more hard-hit by COVID.
During recovery from such a great economic shock with such low interest rates, now may not be the best time to focus on the national debt, but we have to be responsible. The national debt was irresponsibly increased during a time of relative prosperity with overzealous corporate tax deductions and without the elimination of significant loopholes in the 2017 “Tax Cuts & Jobs Act”. It exacerbated income-inequality as well, which is bad for any economy. As we emerge into recovery, corporate tax rates should be increased to at least 25%, and many tax loopholes need to be eliminated. Much of the benefit corporations received economically from the tax cut was limited by reckless trade wars. Because Congress has constitutional authority over foreign commerce and tariffs, I will act as soon as possible and rally other legislators to enforce checks and balances on the executive branch to better manage international trade policy to advance our economic recovery.
The Transpacific partnership (TPP) was the route to tackle international, intellectual-property-rights protections as with it we had leverage with our 11 Asian trading partners, as well as Canada and Japan, against China. The Farm Bureau Federation had endorsed the TPP as well, so the harmful tariff wars could have been completely avoided -  protecting our international ag markets and saving taxpayers billions of dollars.   
Enacting my healthcare reform proposals will: relieve downward pressure on workers’ wages, unburden businesses of employee healthcare costs, and empower labor unions by taking the worthless bargaining chip for health insurance off the table in favor of better wages, working conditions and paid-time-off. People will manage their skills and employment choices better when freed of employer-based health insurance concerns. I will also introduce more anti-trust legislation for a healthier economy.

Stewart: The free market created 100% of America’s great wealth, in spite of the incessant political meddling of Federal and State politicians. That’s how we will recover from this COVID recession, by letting the free market work its wonders.
As for the future, the best thing we can do is balance the Federal budget, start paying down the National Debt, and reform Social Security and Medicare to make them sustainable for the long run. There is no excuse for saddling our children and grandchildren with huge debts, if we do they will not have the resources to conquer the next virus (or asteroid, or volcano, etc.) when it comes around, which it surely will.

Ernst: Since the onset of this pandemic, I’ve worked quickly and across the aisle in an all-hands-on-deck effort to swiftly pass major legislation to get immediate support to Iowans and help get our economy back on its feet. I’ve worked hard to get support to more than 60,000 Iowa small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program. This assistance has been a lifeline for our small businesses and the countless hardworking Iowans they employ.
For our essential workers - such as those on the front lines like our nurses, doctors, truck drivers, grocery clerks and others - I’m pushing to give them a federal tax break during this pandemic. For our child care workers and centers across Iowa, I’ve helped secure nearly $32 million in support, and I’m leading the fight to get them the additional assistance they need to care for our children, which will be critical in getting our economy back to full speed. And, for our ag community, I’ve fought successfully to deliver millions in critical aid for our farmers.

Greenfield: A lot of us are fearful about getting sick or struggling to pay bills. I’m glad Washington has gotten some things done, but it hasn’t been enough every step of the way. Iowans need expanded unemployment benefits, paid sick leave, and relief for Iowa families and small businesses. We also need the Senate to pass more relief for our state and local governments that have been working to keep Iowans safe and provide essential services to our communities throughout these tough times.
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.

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?

Stewart: The racist Drug War needs to end, now. It is half a century old, it has cost taxpayers two trillion dollars, and productive people of all colors still use illegal recreational drugs just as much as they ever did. Ask around, a lot of your friends do.
What moral justification is there for incarcerating people who are minding their own business and hurting no one else? I can’t find that in my Bible. The fact the racist Drug War was started by Richard Nixon specifically to harass black voters should cause every non-racist to stand up and shout - No More Drug War!

Ernst: In the Senate, I’m a tireless advocate for farmers, veterans, and working families and a fighter for Iowa jobs. One of my priorities is on ensuring folks have access to affordable health care, specifically when it comes to lowering the costs of prescription drugs.
A mom in Eastern Iowa once told me her son died because he was rationing insulin because it was so expensive. And she’s not alone. I know the difficulty of this disease because of my brother and sister’s experience and I’ve heard similar heartbreaking stories as I travel the state. I understand how out-of-control health care costs can be.
That’s why I helped change the law to get more affordable prescription options for Iowans. But my work doesn’t stop there. I’m working with Senator Grassley and AARP to help control drug costs for our seniors. I will always stand up for Iowans against the insurance industry and fight to lower costs, increase transparency, and end surprise medical billing.

Greenfield: I’m fighting to protect and expand access to affordable, quality health care, lower the cost of prescription drugs and create more good-paying job opportunities. But instead of solving these problems, some politicians are corrupted by donations from corporate PAC donors, leading our government to work only for the biggest corporations. We can change that by getting big money out of politics. I’m not taking a dime of corporate PAC money and my plan for ending political corruption includes banning corporate PAC money, banning dark money, overturning Citizens United and banning members of Congress from becoming lobbyists.

Herzog: Healthcare reform and promoting more functional government are the primary reasons why I am asking for your vote to be Iowa’s first independent U.S. Senator. We have a historic opportunity for Iowa to lead the nation in 2020. The current narrow party majority in the U.S. Senate grants a nonpartisan Senator leverage in Washington that money can’t buy.
For healthcare reform we must completely disassociate access to private health insurance from employment. Then we would all have access to similarly affordable, high-quality policies and deduct the cost of health insurance from our own taxable income - instead of our employers getting the tax break to make choices for us, as they do now. Insurance premiums would be lower for everyone, with better risk-distribution over larger groups of people.
Republicans are wrong to say that simply requiring more transparency for our complex, convoluted healthcare system will do anything to empower consumers. That won’t break up monopolies either. Democrats’ costly plan to throw a public option into the mix does not simplify, or fix, our free-market system, and it won’t contain costs. We should also make Medicaid a better safety net for anyone of any income level to prevent medical bankruptcy with a temporary, percentage-of-income-based buy-in.
Publicly-funded reinsurance for high-cost outliers is also part of the solution. My proposals will help make private health insurance work better for everyone and save taxpayer dollars, so that we have more public funding available to support a more fair, efficient and effective healthcare system.
 

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE - DISTRICT 1

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

Finkenauer: I grew up in Sherrill, a small town outside of Dubuque that has more cows than people. Growing up, my siblings and I were taught that when there’s a job to do, you say yes, you get to work, and you do whatever it takes to get the job done. That’s exactly what I’ve tried to do over my past two years in Congress, and what I’ll continue to do as our district’s Congresswoman.
Like most of us, I grew up in a working-class family that showed me every day the value of hard work. My dad was a Union pipefitter-welder, my mom was a public school secretary, and my grandfather was a Lieutenant Firefighter for the Dubuque Fire Department. All three of them still today are my biggest inspirations when it comes to public service, and were what ultimately led me to run for Iowa’s State legislature.
In the Iowa State House, I worked hard to protect our working families and small businesses, and oppose massive corporate giveaways for out-of-state companies. We also pushed hard to make sure every Iowan had access to high-quality healthcare and education, issues that all remain my biggest focuses in Congress.
In just two years in Congress, our office has introduced over 20 bipartisan bills with Republicans, because we know that working across the aisle is how you get things done for Iowa families. I’m proud of the work we’ve done to uplift Iowans’ voices and get real, bipartisan change - and I promise to continue to work with anyone who’s willing to get things done for Iowans.

Hinson: I grew up in Central Iowa and went away for college, but I always knew I wanted to come back here and raise my family. My family has deep ties to eastern Iowa. My great-grandparents founded Hinson Manufacturing. They employed hundreds in eastern Iowa, and they made and  sold the “Weather brake” and other equipment for farmers, and also made canvas rucksacks and ammunition belts for the military during World War II.
For over 10 years, I was a news anchor for KCRG-TV9, telling stories of Iowans. It made me want to work towards solutions to the problems our communities face. I am currently a state representative in the Iowa House for District 67, and in Des Moines I have listened to my constituents and fought to protect our children, lower taxes and balance the budget.

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: We have certainly learned a lot from the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the importance of having accurate data available to the public as soon as possible. In the future, I would make sure that websites are reporting data as quickly as possible, and make sure that the public receives information that is easy to comprehend and understand. We must continue to support research on viruses such as COVID-19 to allow our medical professionals to best prepare.
There are so many challenges from a public policy perspective when you’re facing a pandemic the scope of which this country has not seen in a very long time. In the case of Iowa, it’s increasingly difficult because we feed the world and have so many essential workers. I think the PPP Program has been a huge success. From a state level, this pandemic has shown us the importance of maintaining our rainy day fund and keeping state spending under control. Government needs to budget like every Iowan does for their family, spending within their means. The federal government could learn a thing or two from Iowa’s fiscal responsibility.

Finkenauer: The toll of this pandemic has been absolutely devastating, and it is heartbreaking to know how many people we have lost to this pandemic and how many families are shattered. As we continue to battle this outbreak, it’s critical that we get PPE and medical equipment to the health care professionals and workers who need it, ensure PPP loans are available for all small businesses, and get direct payments to families as soon as possible.

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?

Finkenauer: One of the biggest questions our country will face after COVID-19 is how to stimulate our economy to recover from this pandemic - and I believe the absolute best way to do that is by passing a comprehensive infrastructure package to invest in our local economy.  Investing in infrastructure is the best return on investment we have: it puts people back to work, it supports American manufacturing, and it invests in our rural communities and makes them more competitive for the long-term.

Hinson: We need to make sure that Iowans are able to work in a safe environment and give small businesses the resources they need to remain open. I supported the PPP Program as I noted in the previous question. The last thing Iowans need right now is more taxes and regulations when they are already struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Thanks to conservative leadership in the Iowa legislature, Iowa is one of the most fiscally equipped states in the nation to be able to deal with the economic repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic. Let’s make sure we keep it that way by controlling our spending. I’ll take the Iowa way to Washington with me.

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: Now, more than ever, Washington needs common sense leadership who will stand up for our families, workers, small businesses and taxpayers in Congress. I will be the taxpayer’s voice at the table in Washington and never forget my boss is the taxpayers of the First Congressional District. I want to help end the chaos and dysfunction in Washington. I’ll work with anyone who has a good idea to solve problems facing folks here in Iowa.
Congress needs to come to the table and find a solution for healthcare in this country that allows individuals to choose whether or not they utilize private and employer based insurance options, while always protecting those with pre-existing conditions. A Medicare for All Healthcare plan, which Congresswoman Finkenauer has called “the only thing that makes sense right now”, would cause over 50 rural hospitals to close and result in thousands of jobs lost. That’s not the answer.
Our manufacturers and small business will be the engine of America’s economic comeback. Eastern Iowa depends on our workers and wage earners, they need our support now more than ever. In Congress, I’ll work to stop over-regulation and cut the red tape, and I’ll fight to bring critical manufacturing jobs home from China.
Congresswoman Finkenauer and Speaker Pelosi’s policies would take our economy in the wrong direction. Congresswoman Finkenauer co-sponsored new tax legislation that would cost the country nearly $19 trillion and would raise payroll taxes for workers by nearly 20%. Under her plan a middle-class worker making $50,000 would face hundreds in new taxes taken out of their salary. If sent to Washington, I would work to make the tax cuts passed by Republicans permanent.  It would be the honor of my life to represent Iowa’s First Congressional District in Washington and I humbly ask for your vote.

Finkenauer: I’m really proud of how much we’ve gotten done over the past two years, but I know that there is still so much work left to do. I’m proud of the over 20 bipartisan bills we’ve introduced with Republicans to do things like bring down the cost of prescription drugs, make childcare more accessible and affordable, and protect the Children’s Health Insurance Fund.
As your Congresswoman, you have my commitment: I will work with anyone who’s willing to get things done for Iowans. And next year I look forward to continuing our work to protect the Affordable Care Act and secure protections for Iowans with pre-existing conditions; lower the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs; grow Iowa’s small businesses - both on Main Street and our family farms; and make childcare more available and affordable in every Iowa community.
 

ALLAMAKEE COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS

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.

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.
I have been a responsible business owner and operator for the last 40 years and with that had to be fiscally responsible during tough times, and I will use that experience.

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.

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 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, so only doing the high priority jobs to start with as to not raise the tax burden on community at a time when they are already financially stressed. We also need to encourage new businesses to open in our communities to provide additional services and jobs. We as a community also need to draw in and maintain a skilled labor force.

Kelleher: The legacy impacts of COVID-19 will likely be felt in Allamakee County for years to come. Restricted travel and self-quarantines have reduced revenue for businesses (loss of sales), municipal governments (loss of hotel/motel funds), and the County (loss of road use tax dollars). The total impact of COVID-19 is even more than the direct loss of funds; the County has also incurred unexpected expenses to provide safety to citizens during the pandemic. June estimates from the Iowa State Association of Counties revealed that Iowa counties saw a combined financial impact of $53.9 million from March to May.
Farmers have been impacted by disruptions to the supply chain, from closed cafeterias to reduced demand for ethanol to restricted export options; agriculture was one of the last industries to receive focused aid from both the state and the federal government. While we have avoided a second business shutdown, consumer confidence is still recovering; surveys I coordinated for Main Street Lansing this summer show that many people are still uncomfortable being indoors or in close quarters with individuals outside their own homes. Most estimates say travel will take at least a year to bounce back, with local tourists returning first followed by wider tourist trends.
August 24, the Iowa DOT projected a 10% reduction in Road Use Tax allocations for FY21. 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 searching for grant opportunities, establishing safety protocols, lobbying Des Moines and Congress 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.

Reiser: A major portion of our county’s financial and social resources are grounded in agriculture and the business supporting and developing it. Almost everyone has a relationship with this, no matter if you live in the rural area or one of our county’s towns. I will do my part to promote local commerce and support within our community.
We also live in a beautiful part of northeast Iowa with multiple rivers, parks and trails for recreational use by our county citizens as well as visitors. I will make their maintenance and development a priority when addressing outdoor opportunities in Allamakee County.
 

IOWA REPRESENTATIVE - DISTRICT 56

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

Osmundson: I grew up on a family farm and have lived in rural Clayton County my entire life. My husband and I have operated an ag business in the area for over 30 years, giving me the opportunity to meet many area residents and allowing me an understanding of the rural community I represent. Having served in the legislature for two years and meeting many folks from all walks of life has increased my knowledge base of issues important to friends in District 56.

Reed: My name is Angela Reed and I reside in Guttenberg with my husband of 20 years, Aaron, our son, Kaleb, who is a sophomore at Western Dubuque High School, and our two dogs, General and Mav. Our daughter, Kaleigh, is currently a freshman at UNI.
I graduated from the University of Dubuque with my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. I am currently a Finance Manager for Finnin Ford in Dubuque. I have spent 25 years working in customer service in the restaurant, retail and automotive industries. My senior year of high school, I went to Des Moines and worked as a page for the Legislative Service Bureau, now known as the Legislative Service Agency.
I am a strong supporter of our military, since my dad, husband, uncles and numerous cousins have served our country. I am a Christian and attend St. John’s Church in Guttenberg. I have been a small business owner and I understand the struggles of maintaining a small business in the rural area in which we live.
I started out living on a farm with my mom, dad, brother and sister. I participated in 4-H, taking crafts, baking and pigs to the Clayton County Fair. I’ve planted and harvested gardens, assisted with baling hay, cleaning barns, and preparing meals for all of our additional help. I have also lived in cities and decided after having our daughter in Pennsylvania, that home, Guttenberg, is where we wanted to continue to grow our family.
I have coached little league, sang in a Classic Rock Band, taught Sunday School music, volunteered on the Entertainment Committee for RAGBRAI and assisted with set-up and tear-down for local benefits and events. I enjoy attending my kids’ sporting events and school activities and writing. My husband and I enjoy playing and singing music, fishing, and spending time with friends and family.

The COVID-19 pandemic is obviously foremost on all people’s minds. What are your greatest concerns with the pandemic in regard to both its health and economic impacts, and what do you feel are the most effective means to not only remedy the current health crisis and prevent/navigate any in the future, but also to recover from the economic impact the pandemic has had on our state?

Reed: My greatest  concerns for the COVID-19 pandemic revolve around the long-term effects individuals are dealing with after the virus has passed and how our healthcare system is going to work with these individuals moving forward. The economic impacts I believe will be felt for years. We have already lost a lot of small businesses due to forced closures resulting in a lack of revenue. We need to figure out a way to better protect our small businesses in our area and continue to search for healthcare options that are affordable and available to our people.
I am not a medical professional and therefore do not know what the most effective means are to remedy this current health crisis. I can only continue to suggest what the CDC has put out in regards to preventative care and continue to work to discover options that most benefit the people in my district and my state.
As for recovery efforts on the economic side, while we are not alone, protecting small businesses and jobs in our area is of vital importance to me and moving forward working with others in our state to ensure that information and resources are available to prevent the continued loss of these small businesses and jobs is a top priority.

Osmundson: Our state and nation shut down initially to slow the spread; to give the hospitals opportunity to gear-up to handle the thousands of patients they would be treating for this very contagious virus. Our hospitals remained nearly vacant and are now struggling to survive because they were not allowed to perform their regular services to clients. Here we are six months into this pandemic still promoting hysteria by reporting the number of cases but largely ignoring that the number of active cases and hospitalizations are extremely low.
The shutdown was never to prevent the public from getting sick, which is impossible to do, but simply to slow the spread. People now have the idea that no one should get sick from a virus, which is a lot of pressure to put on elected officials who are trying their best to balance all the needs of our communities. Moving forward, we should continue to protect those that are most vulnerable and encourage those at-risk to take precautions as they do during flu season.
I am confident that we can get folks back to work and school safely and responsibly and get about the business of living. The virus will remain with us until we gain herd immunity.
Life is full of risk; there are no guarantees - we must live our lives. Courage over fear; hope over hate.

Agriculture plays a significant role in the economy and way of life not only in the state of Iowa but in the northeast Iowa area you are seeking to represent. What do you feel are the greatest challenges facing Iowa’s agricultural industry and what does your candidacy offer in helping alleviate and/or address those challenges?

Osmundson: Our farmers do an incredibly important job feeding and fueling our state, country and the world and I’ll stand up against any efforts to make that more difficult. I’m honored to be endorsed by the Iowa Farm Bureau, the Iowa Corn Growers Association and Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

Reed: When I agreed to run for District 56, I had no idea that COVID-19 was going to make campaigning a difficult task. I looked forward to meeting with individuals and groups in my area to learn and better understand what our most direct needs were. Unfortunately, with the pandemic and relying on virtual meetings made this an even greater challenge.
Having family that is still part of the farming community in our area, I am aware of different challenges farmers are facing in the area of livestock and the challenges with the meat packing plants having to shut down to address COVID-19 concerns, milk prices where a gallon of milk is almost $4 but our dairy farmers are not being paid their dues, and the millions of acres of crops that were lost to the derecho and the lasting effects that will be felt for years to come resulting in shortages in our great state. I honestly don’t have the answers on how to alleviate or address those challenges, but I will exert all of my energy to make sure that our agricultural industry has a fair shot and northeast Iowa continues to be a great place to raise a family, farm and do business.

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

Reed: The privatization of Medicaid has proven to be incredibly detrimental to the people of Iowa. We need to re-evaluate ways for our people to obtain affordable healthcare and make it accessible to all Iowans. We are facing additional concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic and I believe this is going to be a major focal point of our next session.
We need to address the extreme cost for necessary medications and address time sensitive reimbursement issues, continue to protect individuals with pre-existing conditions and make sure coverage is available for mental health. We also need to continue our research on the benefits of medicinal marijuana.

Osmundson: Iowa’s health care providers are some of the best in the Midwest but we do have some challenges. One of those challenges is access to health care services in rural areas. One way we can address this is by continuing to invest in our small-town hospitals so that people can access care in their communities. Over the last few years, we have provided rural hospitals with additional funding so they can remain operational and in good financial condition. We have also been working on legislation to bring more health care providers to our rural communities through various means.
We also need to designate EMS as an essential service so that local governments have the resources and certainty to make long-term investments in EMS infrastructure. This would help local communities fund life-saving emergency medical services for their citizens. I supported efforts to do this last session and will continue to do so in the future.

Aside from the more specific topics addressed above, what other issues do you see as being the most important to address for the sake of the northeast Iowa area you are seeking to represent, and what does your candidacy offer in helping address those issues?

Osmundson: Workforce is a big issue that impacts the entire state. We have many employers here in northeast Iowa who have jobs to fill but can’t find workers. We have worked hard in the Legislature to support our community colleges and make sure they are offering high quality job training programs to help Iowans gain the skills needed for 21st century careers.
An issue that many constituents are concerned about is the growing number of beverage containers in their garage. I am working with colleagues to address the issue of declining redemption centers. Thirty years ago the bottle bill was drafted and has had few adjustments since. Redemption centers are struggling to operate profitably under the current terms. We are regularly encouraged to recycle our paper, glass, plastic and metal waste. It only makes sense to end the over burdensome habit of redeeming cans and bottles and send them directly to be recycled with the rest of our recyclables.

Reed: I want to focus on the lack of funding for rural public education, the collective bargaining rights that were taken away from our educators, and the drastic shortages in the professional trades of electricians, carpenters, HVAC, welders, manufacturing and so on.
Working collectively with educators and administration, I want to address how to better prepare our children for what comes after high school, providing them with the essential skills they need to be successful on their own. I want to encourage programs that promote trade skills and effectively offer opportunities that show our children what it is like to be on a real job site. I look forward to having conversations with the unions to see what options we have and can create to reduce the shortages we are seeing and start offering opportunities earlier at the secondary level.

IOWA SENATE - DISTRICT 28

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

Klimesh: I was born and raised in northeast Iowa. I graduated from South Winn High School and went on to get a degree from Luther College. I have served the residents of Spillville for over 20 years as their mayor and have served on numerous county and regional boards. In all of those years of service I have only ever worked to leave it better than I found it. I understand the issues that are important to northeast Iowans and will work hard every day to ensure that you have a voice in Des Moines.

Tapscott: My wife and I chose northeast Iowa 11 years ago to raise our children in a rural Iowa community, to enjoy the extraordinary beauty of northeast Iowa, to support the causes we believe in, and to make a difference in our community. I have served on many community boards and committees, including President of the statewide Iowa Family Child Care Association, Iowa Childcare and Early Education statewide task force, Decorah Library Board of Trustees, Decorah Human Rights Commission, Toys-Go-Round Toy Lending Library, our Church Council, and as Chair of the Winneshiek Democratic Party. Our home-based business has assisted hardworking Iowa families with quality, affordable childcare.
I was born and raised in Des Moines and after high school I enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. As a Marine, I earned the rank of Sergeant in an infantry weapons platoon. As a veteran I understand the importance of leadership that brings people together and emphasizes dedication and responsibility. Most importantly, I listen. I will listen to all northeast Iowans and support what their working families need and deserve.

The COVID-19 pandemic is obviously foremost on all people’s minds. What are your greatest concerns with the pandemic in regard to both its health and economic impacts, and what do you feel are the most effective means to not only remedy the current health crisis and prevent/navigate any in the future, but also to recover from the economic impact the pandemic has had on our state?

Tapscott: Greatest COVID concern? How badly COVID-19 has been handled by our Governor and the President. They have ignored the hard science of this virus and, at the national level, made COVID a political issue. That has been disastrous. The pandemic is now much worse than it needed to be. Due to the poor handling and lack of transparent information, thousands of northeast Iowans have had to proceed with uncertainty in their daily living routines. Additionally, the Cares Act Pandemic Relief Bill, intended for hardworking individuals and Main Street businesses, too often went to the largest, politically connected corporations. The Trump and Reynolds administrations do not believe in “government oversight” and this is what happens when government does not do its oversight job.
What is the most effective means for navigating the future? Transparent government! It is our government and it needs to work for Iowa’s hardworking families. Busy Iowa families, living and working, should never have to question whether the information we get from our government is accurate.
COVID-19 has clearly exposed gaps in economic systems (wages, job security, unemployment) and in public service systems (health care, childcare, elder care). Returning to “the way things were” without addressing these gaps will be disrespectful to the economic realities of this pandemic and disrespectful to the millions of people impacted by it. I want our government to do its job, invest wisely, creatively, and in partnership with the small business entrepreneurial spirit prevalent in rural Iowa, in towns and on our small and mid-size farms. Economic research shows this is where the jobs are, and these are the jobs that stay. We can expand use of all educational resources in northeast Iowa to reimagine the post-COVID economy and grow our communities.

Klimesh: The biggest challenge in this pandemic has been trying not only to slow the spread, but the effects of keeping people and kids at home, shutting down businesses for unknown periods of time, and the difficulty of managing the changing guidelines. What is important is, we know how the virus spreads, and we know we need to wash our hands often, maintain social distancing when possible, and be responsible about how we are going about our days. If we keep doing those things, we can find ways to safely open businesses, open schools and safely maintain as much of our normal lives as possible.

Agriculture plays a significant role in the economy and way of life not only in the state of Iowa but in the northeast Iowa area you are seeking to represent. What do you feel are the greatest challenges facing Iowa’s agricultural industry and what does your candidacy offer in helping alleviate and/or address those challenges?

Klimesh: Agriculture is incredibly important to our state and our economy, and the farmers who spend their days and nights working to feed the world face a lot of challenges and uncertainty in their industry. I have spent my life this rural area, and I live in a small town, where farming is a big part of our community. The best thing we can do for Iowa farmers and agriculture is make sure they are being supported at the state level by stopping new regulations, reducing the tax burden on all Iowans, and help create new opportunities for agricultural products.

Tapscott: One of the best ways the Iowa legislature can support Iowa farmers is by investing in the vital public services that keep rural communities strong: health care, education, nutrition, childcare and infrastructure. The current leadership in the Iowa legislature privatized Medicaid and that is having a terrible impact on our rural health care system.
The Majority Party in Des Moines has underfunded public education over the past two decades and Iowa is no longer “number one” in education. Due to a lack of leadership in the Republican controlled legislature, we are not investing in 21st Century infrastructure. Roads, bridges, rail systems, broadband internet and alternative energy options save communities money and create local jobs. We can best prove our commitment to agriculture by investing in the vital public services that serve our rural communities.
The party in charge in Des Moines has stopped investing in rural Iowa. I will work to actually invest in rural Iowa.

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

Tapscott: The strength of our health care system, unquestionably, are the workers in our health care system. I have talked with nurses, nurse aides, doctors and numerous health care staff. They are passionately committed to the well-being of Iowans. We are blessed.
The weakness? Political will. The Republican controlled legislature privatized Medicaid and that has been disastrous for many of our rural health care facilities and staff. They passed Behavioral Health legislation but not the funding to fully support and sustain it. Their political ads tell you “I support health care” - but in the Legislature they do not support health care spending while hardworking Iowa families struggle with health their care costs. I will work to reverse the privatization of vital pubic services like health care and make a more attractive work environment for our health care professionals.

Klimesh: When it comes to our state’s health care system, I think it is important to focus on how we can continue improving it by expanding availability of things like telemedicine and bringing affordable options to Iowans. In the Iowa Senate, my focus will be on how we can make health care accessible to Iowans, especially in rural areas like ours, and make sure it also affordable for the average family.

Aside from the more specific topics addressed above, what other issues do you see as being the most important to address for the sake of the northeast Iowa area you are seeking to represent, and what does your candidacy offer in helping address those issues?

Klimesh: The economic recovery from the impact of the coronavirus is tremendously important. It is important to implement policies to help the economy grow again and create more opportunities in our area. After a rough year and a lot of uncertainty, focusing on low taxes and less regulation will give some certainty for employers and small business owners. These policies will be key in getting Iowans back to work and getting our state back on track once again.

Tapscott: Hardworking Iowa families should not have to work two to three jobs just to make ends meet. We have normalized the abnormal. Our government can help level the field in health care costs, education, childcare costs, and in wages that grow our communities. Government is working well for well-placed lobbyists and corporate special interests and it needs to work as well for us, Iowa’s hardworking families.
I have a lifetime of public service, as a Marine and as an Early Childhood educator, and I believe passionately in public service we can all be proud of. I will fight, with civility, to make our government do its job and invest in the vital public services all hardworking Iowa families need and deserve.
 

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