The need to work across the aisle as a member of the Iowa House was discussed by candidates for Iowa House District 78 and District 84 during a candidate forum Tuesday evening.
The forum, held by the Washington Chamber of Commerce, featured House District 78 incumbent Jarad Klein, R, and challenger Kimberly Davis, D, as well as House District 84 candidates Jason Moats, D, and Joe Mitchell, R. House District 84 incumbent Dave Heaton has announced he will retire from the office at the end of the year.
In response to questions regarding working with other parties, all candidates expressed the willingness to work with whomever it took to pass legislation to improve Iowa.
Moats, of Mount Union, works for the Department of Corrections, teaching inmates a trade. He has also worked as a correctional officer and a skilled tradesman. He said growing up he spent most of his time on the family farm. “I’m no stranger to hard work and I hope to work hard for you,” he said.
Mitchell, who lives in Coppock, said he has worked as a page in the Iowa House and as a clerk in the Iowa Senate. he said he has worked in Gov. Kim Reynolds’ office and in a senator’s office in Washington, D.C. He will graduate from Drake University this semester with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He said he was inspired to run after seeing Heaton working for all the people of his district and hopes to do the same. “I hope to use that knowledge to get legislation passed,” he said.
Klein, of Keota, explained he is a fifth-generation farmer and has served as representative since 2010. He said since being elected, he has been part of doing “many good things for the state.” He read statistics about Iowa from a variety of media showing Iowa as among the top states in the nation.
“I’m running for re-election to the Iowa House in part to continue to build on the successes of the past and also to address today’s priorities,” he said. “We need to focus on job growth. We need to focus on health care and we need more mental health reforms.”
Davis, of Washington, said she serves as the chair of the Washington County Democrats and works at her parents’ real estate firm. She said she has been involved in organizing many political events, including the Washington County segment of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Presidential campaign.
“I’ve learned so much by listening to all the stories from people in Washington and Keokuk counties,” she said. “I care what everyone has to say and will answer any questions they may ask.”
The candidates responded to questions about privatized Medicaid. Moats said he did not believe Medicaid could be fixed as long as it is privatized, saying, “Iowa needs to understand they can’t make money off everything and I think it is in poor taste that we are trying to make money off the elderly and disabled.”
Mitchell said Medicaid privatization was an executive decision and the Legislature had not debated it.
“I know firsthand this is not the most perfect system, but I also know if you put more government oversight on it, it can be smoothed out and can be made as good of care as possible,” he said.
Klein said he did not agree with the manner in which privatized Medicaid was rolled out, saying it came out too fast and the Branstad administration had not done the due diligence it should have. He also said the public Medicaid system it replaced was not sustainable and was not trying to promote the overall health of people and that it needed to be changed.
“It’s unfortunate this has become a partisan matter because privatized medical care has worked in other states,’ he said. “I don’t think this should be as partisan of an issue as it is being brought out to be.”
Davis felt the system needs to be public, saying the state needs a plan for care providers and a plan to begin opening facilities for mental health, reproductive health, and addiction treatment.
“Our prisons are an expensive way for us to handle our mentally ill,” she said. “By restructuring the system, we will save a lot of money.”