Editor's Note: Vinton Today invited candidates to introduce themselves to the voters and to share a little bit with you about their stance on the issues. We will publish these as they arrive.
Education/Experience/Interests that can benefit you if elected:
I moved to Iowa in 1999 to attend Iowa State University where I met my husband Brian. We live in rural northeast Benton County on a small acreage where we raise dairy goats. We are members of Zion Lutheran Church in Dysart.
I am a teacher by training (B.A. in Early Childhood Education) and a small-town newspaper correspondent by trade. I spent three years with a pad of paper and a pen covering the communities of Benton County as a correspondent for Community Media Group (Cedar Valley Times/Vinton Eagle/Livewire). Today I am in national service with AmeriCorps Partnering to Protect Children (APPC). My service area is Benton and Iowa counties. I have spent much of the last eight weeks working in the HACAP Food Reservoir warehouse and the Old School Produce Gardens in Vinton (a food pantry partner) after being redeployed by the governor’s disaster declaration on March 17. I also work with Operation Sack Lunch at the Marengo Public Library. Prior to the pandemic, part of my service work involved building awareness of suicide prevention in our communities.
I am a board member for Benton-Tama Early Childhood Iowa (ECI) and a member of the Old Creamery Nature Trail committee. I volunteer my time with several local conservation organizations and entities. In 2018, my daughter Coralee and I received recognition for our volunteer work in environmental education from the Iowa Association of Naturalists and the Iowa Conservation Education Coalition. I am also an eagle nest monitor for the Iowa DNR’s Volunteer Wildlife Monitoring Program.
My husband Brian and I have been a union family for our entire 18 years of marriage by way of his membership with United Association Local 125: Plumbers and Pipefitters. I am a member of the National Writers Union. I have been endorsed by the Iowa AFL-CIO and the local Sunrise Movement-Cedar Rapids hub.
What are some issues of concern and how do you propose to solve each if elected:
First and foremost, I am a voice for working people. It was my belief when I made the decision to run for Iowa House that the people are no longer powering the government as they should—the grassroots have been stunted. Iowans are hurting. Our systems are stressed. Our youth face the monumental task of saving humanity in the face of a changing climate.
As a legislator, my focus would be on policies that support working people and the anchors on our landscape—our small towns, public schools, family farms, and stewards of the land. We need elected officials who truly advocate for people, not for special interests, not for corporate interests. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it abundantly clear who supports our economy and who benefits from it. State-level policy for at least the last decade has not benefitted the people who anchor this economy—our working families.
Specific areas of concern for me include keeping our local public schools open—we have consolidated enough—by exploring creative ways to build more resiliency into our rural and small-town schools. In the Iowa legislature, I would be a fierce advocate for our local public schools.
I would like to see Chapter 20—Iowa’s public sector collective bargaining law—restored. Public sector employees including our teachers deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. They are doing more and more every day with less and less.
I believe we need to reverse the privatization of Medicaid—take management back from the private for-profit insurance industry, restore state oversight and stability, and expand its reach, particularly to cover women who had a birth covered by the program for one year postpartum. For every one dollar Iowa spends on Medicaid, new federal dollars are generated (by a multiplier of 1.6 for FY2021). Medicaid dollars help keep our local hospitals, our local clinics, our nursing homes, our home health programs, and more operating. We need to support these community anchors. The privatization of Medicaid has led to cuts in care, reduced costs far less than predicted, and sacrificed oversight and transparency.
Access to quality affordable child care in Iowa was a crisis before the pandemic and even with an infusion of financial support from the CARES Act, many census tracts in House District 75 will still be considered child care deserts. We need state level policies that would increase the availability of quality affordable child care in Iowa, strengthen our workforce, and invest smartly in our communities. A package of child care tax credits aimed at working families, child care providers, child care teachers and directors, as well as businesses, would go a long way toward addressing the child care crisis.
Access to mental health care services in Iowa is also a key concern of mine. Iowa’s suicide rate has increased faster than most states over the last two decades. One of the best protective factors we have in a rural state like ours is to keep our local hospitals and clinics open—a relationship with a primary care doctor is often a key factor in preventing suicide among older Iowans, particularly those in the agricultural community. By investing in Medicaid and expanding programs such as the Rural Iowa Primary Care Repayment Program, we can work toward bringing mental health services to the nearly two-thirds of Iowa counties lacking a mental health prescriber. Keeping local public schools open is also a key protective factor against suicide.
Iowa’s tax policy in general needs a working families overhaul. Corporate tax cuts, loopholes, and research credits are costing Iowa families and local governments millions in tax revenue every year. City and county budgets were stressed before the pandemic. Essential services—like the driver’s license station in Belle Plaine—are being cut. Iowa’s tax policy does not put working families first. By enacting smart tax reform, we could at long last invest in Iowa’s crumbling infrastructure and put people to work. We need to invest in the people who live here now by finally connecting every acre, fixing our roads and bridges, upgrading our aging power grid, investing in our rural school bus and public transport fleets, fully-funding REAP, and bringing sustainability to every corner of the state.
It is my belief that access to clean water is a fundamental human right—whether that water comes from a municipality, a rural water authority, or a private well. By passing a Saturated Buffer Law with tax credits for farmers, as well as enhancing funding to our Grants to Counties program, Iowa could make significant, meaningful progress in its water quality goals.
As a frontline community, Iowa needs tools for a changing climate. In the Iowa legislature, I would support the creation of a state-level climate task force with the goal of creating resiliency in our communities, particularly in the agricultural community. I also believe any climate-related legislation must include a Farmers Bill of Rights.
I look forward to being part of the movement that brings working people back into the conversation in Des Moines. Iowans are Iowans. As a newspaper correspondent, meeting with people, hearing their stories, speaking truth to power is part of the job description—I would carry those same ideas with me to the Iowa legislature. I am always open to meeting people and hearing their concerns. I hope to earn your trust and secure your vote in the Primary on June 2, 2020, and again in the General Election on November 3, 2020, as a candidate for Iowa House District 75. Thank you.