Forumin Volga Candidates introduce platforms

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By Pam Reinig
Register Editor
Some of the most intriguing information presented Tuesday night at a political forum in Volga came from a candidate running unopposed for re-election.
Clayton County Attorney Alan Heavens (R) talked about his aggressive prosecution of methamphetamines cases. He has 50 successful felony prosecutions, which he feels has contributed to decreases in usage and the number of labs in Clayton County.

“We’re making a difference but it’s still out there,” Heavens told the crowd. He also briefly touched on his prosecution of vehicular homicide cases, community outreach efforts, and a fines collection system that has returned almost $100,000 to the community.

The bulk of the candidates’ forum, sponsored by the Volga City Study Club and held at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, consisted of self-introductions and brief comments. The candidates did engage in a Q/A session that touched on issues ranging from the privatization of Medicaid to support for public schools to air and water quality.

The Register will take a closer look at candidates of the Clayton County Board of Supervisors, Iowa Howa House District 55 and Iowa House District 56 and where they stand on those issues in special articles before the November 6 Election Day. Here are comments from Tuesday’s event, in the order in which they were presented:
Joleen Jansen (D)—Clayton County Board of Supervisors

    Jansen is a small business owner and program manager with the Clayton County Energy District. She also served on the Central School Board for 11 years.
“Because of my life experiences I think have something worthwhile to offer the county,” Jansen said. “As a county supervisor, I will be committed to maintaining a fiscally sound budget by using our county’s resources for the good of all who live in Clayton County. I will be informed and I will listen. I will be open-minded. I will bring fresh ideas to the table, and I will always value working together responsibility for the common good of Clayton County.”
Dick Dinan (D)—Clayton County Board of Supervisor

Dinan is a life-long Clayton County resident who is retiring from farming after 54 years. He is a former board member of Clayton County Farm Bureau, a former member of the Elkader Jaycees and a charter member of the Iowa Coalition of Mental Health and Aging Committee. He also served as past president of his bowling chapter.
“This is my main message,” Dinan said, “I will hear you and work for you, and listen to all your ideas and opinions. I’m an advocate for better roads, education, job opportunities, and clean air and water. I will support new business and tourism.”
“I am running for supervisor because I believe we need to continue to care for the well-being of our county and its taxpayers.”
Lori Egan (D)—Iowa House of Representatives, District 56

This 30-year resident of Waukon and nurse is running for office because she thinks Des Moines politicians are forgetting the residents of Clayton and Allamakee counties.
“I’m in this race for our elderly and our young,” Egan said. “We need health care that is affordable and accessible—one that cares for the disabled who deserve the same services as the ‘walking healthy,’ and we need an education system that provides our kids with the skills they’ll need to land a good job.”

Kayla Koether (D)—Iowa House of Representatives, District 55
Koether lives in Decorah and is a member of a fifth-generation Northeast Iowa family. She worked for Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative and the Winneshiek Energy District before taking her current position at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach providing technical assistance to businesses and beginning farmers.
“It’s time to bring my generation back to Northeast Iowa by creating opportunities for them,” Koether said. “We need to revitalize our farm economy and rebuild our main streets, and we need the next generation here to do that.”
Koether touted her experience engaging people to plan shared goals and succeed in meeting them.

Rob Sand (D)—State Auditor
A Decorah native, Sand was named assistant attorney general in 2010. He recently led a nationwide investigation into the largest lottery scheme in U.S. history.
Sand was critical of the current auditor’s office, which he pointed out doesn’t employ anyone with law enforcement or prosecution experience.
“There are two things about the job description for auditor that excite me,” Sand said. “First there’s the opportunity to make efficiency recommendations to save tax dollars and second, the ability to use subpoena power to see if our tax dollars are being used appropriately.” If elected, he promises a full investigation of Medicaid to determine if privatization is working.
Marco Battaglia (L)—Attorney General
Battaglia, a Pella native and Des Moines resident who has worked in radio and finance, directed audience members to his website where he calls for reform within Iowa’s justice system, increased access to mental health services, and an end to corruption.

“Dealing with our current crony politicians and government three-letter agency folks that think that they are above the law, that is nothing for me,” Battaglia says on this website. “No-one is above the law. Not a company or entity that deems themselves too big to fail, not the government itself, certainly not a Governor or a President! No company is too big too fail. No individual is too powerful to be tried for criminal activity.”

Lynn Gentry (L)—Lt. Governor
Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Jake Porter was unable to attend the forum so Gentry spoke for both of them. The Calhoun County native said she believes Iowans are Libertarians at heart and offered the state motto as proof: Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.
“We want Iowans to live that and not just read it on the flag,” she said. “Let’s do what we can for the people in the state and let them go about their business.”

Gary Siegwarth (I)—Governor
Elkader resident and DNR biologist Gary Siegwarth sees water, land and air quality issues as key to Iowa’s future.
“I’m running because I’ve become so frustrated over time,” he said. “It’s frustrating to go to Des Moines and tell them about things and watch it fall on deaf ears. Our natural resources connect to every other aspect of life, in one way or another. We need to pay attention to that.”
Siegwarth acknowledged that people from all political parties have good ideas. “We need to take those good ideas and put them together to make great ideas,” he added.

Michael Bergan (R)—Iowa House of Representatives, District 55
A lifelong resident of Winneshiek County, Bergan touts his public service record and previous experience in elected office.
“I bring a real depth of knowledge with me from my past experiences, eight years as a county supervisor working with local government on a number of issues that we dealt with locally,” Bergan said. “I’ve had 12 years working with early childhood from an education perspective as well as working with child abuse prevention with activities with the Department of Human Services with child protection.” Bergan added that, if elected, he would continue working with others to improve the quality of life for all Iowans.

Anne Osmundson (R)—Iowa House of Representatives, District 56
Osmundson was on familiar ground at Tuesday’s forum: She has lived within three miles of Volga her entire life.
“I’ve watched as government has grown large and our debt has spiraled out of control,” said Osmundson, who clerked for Kristi Hager, who is not seeking re-election. “As a small business owner myself, I understand many of the problems our Iowa employers face. In the Iowa House, I’ll work to cut burdensome red tape that stifles our job creators and ensure they have the workforce necessary for the careers of tomorrow. I’ll put a priority on investing in education and ensure Iowans have access to affordable healthcare. I’ll do everything I can to make certain the future is bright for the next generation of Iowans.”

Steve Doeppke (R)—Clayton County Board of Supervisors
Doeppke is a Central High School graduate who has lived his entire life in Elkader. From 1974 to 2016, he worked for the Iowa Department of Transportation. That experience, he said, will serve him well as supervisor tasked with overseeing the county’s infrastructure needs.
“I’m also a good listener and I believe all taxpayers deserve to be heard,” Doeppke said. “If elected, I will work to achieve a balanced budget, spend taxpayer dollars efficiently and improve mental health.”

Sharon Keehner (R)—Clayton County Supervisor
A self-described optimist who believes in leading with common sense, Keehner stressed her good communication skills and trustworthiness. She outlined five challenges that she would address as a supervisor, if elected: safer roads and bridges, improved mental health services, economic growth, better treatment for veterans, and responsible use of tax dollars to balance needs and wants.
“Just spending money doesn’t make things better,” she said. “You have to spend it in the right places.”

Rick Stewart (L)—Secretary of Agriculture
Stewart is an entrepreneur who grew a home-based supplying herbs and spices to co-ops into a $200 million company that he sold to retire at age 48. He spoke of four challenges, three that he said have been created by the government.
“Renewable fuel standards and farm subsidies need to disappear over the next 10 years,” he said. “Also tariffs are for losers; we need to get rid of those. Finally, Iowa is a polluting state. We take good, clean water, make it dirty and then send it downstream. These are things we need to fix.”

Republicans Sue Meyer and Linda Zuercher, who are running unopposed for County Recorder and County Treasurer, respectively, discussed improvements in their offices including digitizing records and improving customer service. They also thanked voters for showing confidence in them by electing them to office, and pledged to continue working for Clayton County taxpayers.

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