Robert Fischer speaks to Gov. Reynolds.

Thomas Heckroth posed for photographs with many area residents during a campaign stop in Vinton.

Two months before the 2018 primary election, two of the candidates who will be on the ballot visited Vinton on Friday.

Kim Reynolds, who became Governor on May 24, 2017, after Terry Branstad became the U.S. Ambassador to China, spoke with a few dozen area residents at the Vinton Family Restaurant on Friday.

Accompanied by Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, Reynolds told the crowd that Iowa has many things to celebrate, including its recent rating as the No. 1 state by USA Today.

Repeating for the local crowd the story she told when she became Governor, Reynolds said her story of growing up in a small community, and then going on to run for a county office, and then become a state senator, Lt. Governor and then Governor, represents the “unbelievable opportunities” that exists for Iowans.

State Senator Tim Kapucian, who, like Reynolds, was elected to the Iowa Senate in 2008, introduced the Governor.

Ty Lillibridge was among the youngest members of the audience who heard Gov. Reynolds speak, attending the event with his dad, Lance.

Local residents had some questions for Reynolds. The first one was about the threat of a trade war with China, and its possible consequences for Midwest farmers. Reynolds said that she shared those concerns, and had been in contact with the Trump administration about the need for keeping the U.S. ag economy strong. She also said that her office has a good relationship with the Trump White House, and can share her views on issues, even when she disagrees with the President.

Reynolds also said that under World Trade Organization guidelines, there is a 60-day waiting period for tariffs, which she says is time to get things done to prevent a trade war, while also holding China accountable for the theft of intellectual property.

Another question came from a business owner who said that state welfare policies sometimes get in the way of helping people get from welfare to work. He told the governor that some employees tell him they would lose benefits if they work too many hours per week. Reynolds acknowledged that challenge and said that the new “Future Ready Iowa” program includes efforts to help those on welfare find meaningful work.

Reynolds is running unopposed in the GOP primary for Governor. However, there are six Democrats (Nate Boulton, Cathy Glasson, Fred Hubbell, Andrea Andy McGuire, John Norris and Ross Wilburn) and two Libertarians (Marco Battaglia and Jake Porter) on the ballot.

Vinton Mayor Bud Maynard and VU Director Melissa Schwan speak with Gov. Reynolds.

Heckroth speaks at Ray House

Then on Saturday, congressional candidate¬†Thomas Heckroth spoke to a couple dozen Democratic activists at the Ray House. Accompanied by his wife, Naomi, Heckroth first shared a local baseball story. A baseball player who would later wear the Waverly-Shell Rock high school and U of Iowa baseball uniforms, Heckroth was playing in a youth league game at the Marvin Lindsey complex when he hurt his wrist while trying to make a catch. He told his father his wrist really hurt, but his father thought he was just complaining. Later, when he broke his arm playing football, the doctor looked at his x-ray and asked, “When did you break your wrist?”

Heckroth is the son of Bill Heckroth, who served one term in the Iowa Senate. He told the local crowd that after working in the office of former Senator Tom Harkin, and later in the Obama Administration’s Labor Department, he returned to Iowa and encouraged his father to run for office.

While growing up, said Heckroth, he noticed his parents kept four portraits on the wall, and he found out who those people were and why they mattered to his parents: JFK, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Parker and Mother Teresa.

While disagreeing with Reynolds on many party-line issues, like health care, Heckroth did agree with the Governor on the China tariff issue.

Congressional candidate Thomas Heckroth speaks at the Ray House.

“There is too much talk and chaos, and not enough getting things done,” said the candidate of the climate on Capitol Hill. Among the most important issues facing the country, and Iowa, he said, are: Investments in research, modernizing roads and schools, improved infrastructure and making government more efficient.

Heckroth acknowledged the problems Democrats have had winning elections in rural Iowa, and said the solution is to listen to voters, go where the people are and to be a good listener.

“We just quit talking to people,” he said.

Also running in the Democratic primary for the District 1 seat in Congress are Abby Finkenauer, George Ramsey and Courtney Rove.

The U.S. House incumbent for District 1 is Rod Blum, who like Reynolds, is running unopposed in the GOP primary.