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.
I’m Ivy Schuster and I am running for Iowa Senate in District 38 to represent Benton, Iowa, and Poweshiek counties. I was born and raised in Poweshiek County, and that’s where I’m choosing to raise my own children with my husband, Andy. We live just outside of Searsboro, and I work in information technology. I also volunteer my time as a firefighter and with political and women’s organizations.
I learned the value of public education growing up in Montezuma and attending Montezuma Community School. After graduating from high school I spent a few years at Iowa Valley Community College before finishing up at Iowa State University. I was the first person in my family to earn a bachelor’s degree. I have seen the barriers that exist in even the most accessible and lowest-cost education options, firsthand, and I will work to reduce or remove as many of those barriers as I can.
Over the last eight years, I have served on nonprofit boards in Grinnell and on the council for Trinity Lutheran Church in Malcom, helping to make decisions about spending, measuring success, and how to best serve the community. It has been through volunteer work
that I have strengthened my connection to both my community and its members.
Even before I had political ambitions, I knew that engagement in the political process is crucial, regardless of party affiliation. I joined the Grinnell League of Women Voters—a nonpartisan organization—several years ago to help people overcome the barriers to voter registration and voting itself that many rural residents face. This will continue to be a priority once I am in the position to shape legislation pertaining to voting and elections.
I continue to serve my community in Searsboro as a volunteer firefighter, as I have for six years. So much of this work is preparation and maintenance, which I would like to see more of in our government. Not only do I share the responsibility of keeping my community safe, but I have also connected with and helped local residents in very tangible ways. Serving as a firefighter has also given me the opportunity to build trust and work as part of a team, helping each other accomplish a shared goal to benefit others.
As for my current work, I’m a woman in a STEM field who spends her days helping people understand technologies that are crucial to their jobs. I believe the best way of understanding a subject is to teach it—to as many people as possible, taking into account what they already know or don’t know. I’ll do the same as a senator, helping my constituents understand what is happening in our state’s government.
By most definitions of the word, my district is rural, and it is harder to implement change in rural areas of the state. When people are not separated by physical distance, more of them can benefit from a new resource. It’s much easier to walk a mile or two in a city or spend a little money on public transportation than it is to walk 20 miles on gravel roads or maintain a car to get you into town. But just because it’s more difficult to serve rural communities—because the resources that work for cities don’t necessarily work for people whose nearest neighbor isn’t within shouting distance—that doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t work for them. We’ll just have to get creative.
Some issues can be improved drastically with a single change. For instance, the best thing we can do to make voting more accessible and increase participation in elections is to make Election Day a state holiday.
Oftentimes, adequate and even very good plans and structures are proposed and passed, but they don’t get funding. Right now our ideals don’t match our spending. We either need to fund what we believe in or admit that we have allowed other interests to become higher priorities than our communities, our environment, and our children.
At other times, legislation is passed in direct opposition to the best interest of the people of this state. Stripping unions of collective bargaining rights, privatizing Medicaid, and defunding mental health resources come to mind. I have yet to hear a satisfactory explanation for any of these decisions, and I don’t believe I ever will. Some of these unjust laws have to be fought in the courts, but I will do everything I can to review, reverse, and otherwise fight them in the Senate.
Overall, I will encourage a focus on rural revitalization to enhance education, workers’ rights, our health care system, voting rights, and the environment. The crucial thing is to create opportunities: Give students options for job training and apprenticeships after they complete high school. Fully fund their public schools and take care of their needs so they can focus on learning and not where their next meal is coming from. Incentivize green practices in agriculture and industry. And develop infrastructure in our rural areas so everyone can access the Internet. There is no better way to ensure a competitive workforce and create jobs.
For additional details on the campaign and how to get involved, visit www.ivyforiowa.com
or Ivy for Iowa on Facebook. I have been making hundreds of calls each week, if you haven't heard from me yet and are interested in talking about the needs of the district, give me a call at 641-632-2018.