MONTROSE - Democrat voters settled in under the Ivor Fowler shelter in Montrose Sunday afternoon to hear local and state candidates talk about what needs to be done to turn the tables in favor of Democrats heading into November's general election.
Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Diedra DeJear was scheduled to be in attendance, but her running mate Eric Van Lancker made the trip in her place in shorts and a brown t-shirt with yellow lettering that read "Fund Public Schools".
Van Lancker said the Republican-controlled Iowa Legislature has actually reduced funding to state schools by holding them to a 2 to 2.5% growth when districts have been dealing with inflation of more than 4%.
The Cedar Rapids native and current Clinton County Auditor said Funding Public Schools is fundamental to rural Iowa. He said Reynolds is hand picking candidates to run against incumbents in her own party who are not on board with her private school voucher program.
"It's a plan to spend $54 million on 10,000 students. I think they should be spending $54 million more on the 480,000 public school students in this state, That's our answer," he said to applause.
He said the public shouldn't be fooled by what Republicans are putting on social media pages.
"The last ten years the Republicans have been only funding public schools at 2% growth every year, Van Lancker said.
"We know inflation the last two years has been 4 and 6 percent and that's what they've been asking for - a chance to keep up with inflation."
Van Lancker said privatization of Medicaid is not working in the state and isn't just hurting Iowa's most vulnerable citizens, it's hurting rural hospitals, too. He said the out-of-state MCOs are rejecting claims at a 900% higher rate than when the state ran the program.
"I can't think of anything more unIowan, than just automatically turning down these claims and putting our most vulnerable in danger, just so they can have a better balance sheet."
He said DeJear will also be there for women's rights to choose on health care.
"Gov. Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Gregg have already started the process to penalize a woman and her doctor's choice to have a very private and difficult decision for a needed and safe procedure when it has to be done," he said. "They're going to criminalize it and Diedre won't allow that to happen."
Joel Miller, the current auditor for the Linn County, said the state needs to "fire' current Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate for dereliction of duties. He said Pate acted too late in getting out absentee ballot requests during the last election and is now focusing on human trafficking which is far removed from the the Secretary of State's job description of securing elections in the state.
Miller is on the ballot for the post on the Democratic side and he said the message he received during the 2020 election was to get out to the rural areas.
"The party is in change," he said. "But you don't give up on it. Competition is good."
He said he's already done things differently in Linn County. He said for a city school election last fall, he printed absentee ballot request forms in a countywide newspaper that went to 80,000 homes in the county.
Miller, who bested Van Lancker in the Democratic primary for Secretary of State by more than 48% of the vote, made news by being sued by Donald Trump's campaign for mailing out absentee ballot request forms with voter information mostly filled in.
He said more than 20% of the request forms in the fall election were returned.
Miller has now set his sights on Pate and the reduction of access to polls for voters.
"We went from 40 days of early voting in 2016, to 29 in 2017, and now we're down to 20," he said. "And if auditors were open only during busines hours, that is reduced to 14 days."
He said in Linn County they were open all 20 days and they had 23 people vote on Memorial Day.
He said he would also lobby for automatic voter registration beginning at 17 from the Iowa DOT offices, rather than having to request the registration.
"Registration is the key to participation. That's the first step. You gotta be registered and if you're registered you're going to have less hassle if and when you decide to go vote."
Democrats enjoying ice cream also heard from Christina Bohannan who's challenging Marianette Miller-Meeks for Iowa's new 1st Congressional District. She said Miller-Meeks has not done what she said she would do to represent rural Iowans.
"We have representatives now that would rather tell lies and spread misinformation than solve real problems. They would rather create culture wars to distract us from not doing anything to make ordinary people's lives better," Bohannan said.
"I'm sorry to say that nowhere is that more true than in our 1st district with Mariannette Miller-Meeks. She ran as a moderate, but she has not been voting that way. She's been telling Iowans one thing and doing something completely opposite in Washington."
She said her opponent has worked against reducing inflation, creating good jobs in Iowa, and helping people get affordable health care.
"Iowa, we can do better, we can absolutely do better," Bohannan said.
She said a few swing districts will determine control of Congress next year. She said the former 2nd district in Iowa was the tightest election in the nation in 2020 where Miller-Meeks defeated Rita Hart by just six votes.
Voters also heard from local candidates Donna Amandus, who will challenge Tom Schulz, for a spot on the Lee County Board of Supervisors, Rebecca Bowker, who's challenging Martin Graber in District 100 for State Representative, and Dennis Cohoon, whose district will spill slightly into Lee County starting in January. County Treasurer Chris Spann was also on hand.
Cohoon said it may take a couple years for Democrats to wrangle control of the legislature but the time to start is now. He said putting DeJear in the governor's office is the fastest way to start the process.
Bowker said she wants southeast Iowa to be represented fairly in Des Moines, by a fair voice of the people, not those of big dollars.
Amandus said she's looking to expand her elected official role with an election to Lee County Supervisors and wants to bring proven results to the board in line with what she has done as a member of the Fort Madison City Council.
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Sunday, August 7, 2022 Report this