The League of Women Voters of Ames and Story County hosted a public forum for Iowa House District 49 candidates last Thursday evening in Nevada. The forum was held at the Extension Office at the Story County Fairgrounds. Moderator Anne Kimber introduced incumbent Republican state Rep. Dave Deyoe, and Brenda Brink, the Democratic challenger, to the crowd of about 40 people. Libertarian candidate John Evans did not attend.
House District 49 Includes Nevada, Story City, Roland, Colo, Zearing, McCallsburg, Collins, Maxwell, Cambridge, Huxley; Collins, Howard, Indian Creek, Lincoln, Nevada, New Albany, Palestine, Richland, Sherman, Union, and Warren townships.
The forum opened with a five-minute opening statement by each candidate. Questions from the audience followed, with candidates allowed two minutes to answer.
Deyoe opened by telling the audience he has focused on budget issues as an appropriation committee member in the Legislature.
“In fact, this building we are sitting in tonight is the result of the only Republican sponsored bill that made it through the legislative process that year. The city of Nevada couldn’t give the land to the fair board under state laws until this law was passed to fix the problem,” Deyoe said. “Our rainy-day fund is full; our budget is good. I plan to work on improving our mental health system to fix the gaps in communities as well.”
Brink introduced herself as a life-long Iowan.
“I assumed people at the leadership level would put Iowans first,” Brink said. “When I went to the Statehouse I felt like a person didn’t count for anything to the leaders. I’m concerned with our budget. Taxpayer money is going to the pockets of organizations that should be spent on Iowans. I’m a person that doesn’t just talk, I do something. I’ve knocked on over 5,000 doors.”
Dave Loupee, of Story City, asked a question regarding taxes. “Will you raise the current rate of tax from 3/8 of 1 percent to a full 1 percent? I’ve never been in a state with a partial sales tax.”
Brink said there is a “revenue leak in Iowa. When things are supposed to be examined as the auditor stated in 2016, and they aren’t looked at, that is a leak of revenue of $37 million to a company, not to tax paying Iowans,” referring to the tax credits given to Apple.
Brink said she was not in favor of tax credits to companies but prefers the tax monies paid by Iowans be used for school budgets.
Deyoe countered, “If you think the Democrats will fix this tax credit issue, they won’t. Urban areas are mainly Democrat representatives and they won’t change the credits. Republicans don’t usually like to raise taxes.”
John Monroe, of Nevada, asked Deyoe about the future of IPERS, the state employee retirement fund. Deyoe said that neither he nor the leadership in the House plan to change IPERS in 2019. Brink said she is opposed to any changes to IPERS.
Other questions for the candidates included topics of global warming, sustainable agricultural practices, laws prohibiting plastic bag use, extending the voting period to 40 days, and the increasing cost for a college education.
Brink said she knew of professors at Iowa State University who were now doing assistants’ work because there was no budget to hire help.
“We have to think to the future,” she said. “If we lose our reputation we can’t get it back.”
“The University of Iowa is the lowest price of the Big 10 schools, and that is something to promote,” Deyoe said. “The Regents has ability to seek grants. The Legislature has not cut K-12 funding, and we ended well.”
Final questions focused on keeping younger Iowans in the state and improving the quality of life.
“People aren’t going to ride their bikes in rural areas when there are large animal confinement areas,” Brink said. “Local homeowners in rural communities have no right to protect property values when a hog confinement is right next door. We need to get local control back to the counties.”
“Iowa is ranked number one by the US World & News Report. We’ve made progress in some areas and are still working in others. Rural housing development is one area to improve upon. We can encourage more job growth which means poverty decreases as well.”
Closing comments by both candidates voiced agreement that running for state office was a positive experience.
Brink said, “I favor people over corporations which is why I’m running. Health care and mental health improvements will bring prosperity. Get your neighbors to vote. People call politics dirty, and at this level it really isn’t. I’ve met some very nice people. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”
“I agree with Brenda, campaigning for a local race is enjoyable,” Deyoe said. “I enjoy helping people and meeting with people while campaigning and at the Statehouse. It is a great privilege to serve the people of District 49.”