My name is Liz Bennett and I have had the honor of serving Cedar Rapids as a State Representative since 2014. I’m running for re-election this year. I hope this column will help folks understand why serving my neighbors as a State Representative is important to me, my values and vision for Iowa, and I hope to earn Gazette reader’s votes.
Some people think it’s a bad idea for a political leader to admit to being born outside of Iowa, but I say it proudly: I am a transplant. I love this state and I’ve chosen to make my home here. Fourteen years ago, I moved to Iowa for a great job opportunity. Since then, I’ve had the full benefit of the education Iowa can offer, first attending Kirkwood Community College and then earning a scholarship to attend Cornell College. I’ve volunteered for organizations such as Animeals and the German Shepherd Dog Rescue of Eastern Iowa, worked for a non-profit organization One Iowa, and got ahead in the tech world as a new-hire trainer for GoDaddy. While other people my age left the state, I put down roots, seeing opportunity here, and I am committed to working to ensure that all Iowans have the same, great educational and career opportunities I have had.
Central to this mission is the idea that we succeed together. When a purported solution to a problem leaves people behind, we cannot claim to have solved a problem. Using ingenuity and hard work, we can find solutions that benefit our whole communities. Essential to this mission is cultivating an inclusive culture where everyone, regardless of race or nation-of-origin, gender or sexual orientation, disability status or religion is valued and can live a full and authentic life.
I’m concerned that too-few people in government share this attitude, believing that success is only for a few and that we have to exclude people or create scapegoats to get there.
I hope to return to the State House in January so I can work on some key issues I believe are essential for an Iowa that works for all of us. Namely, ensuring world-class education for Iowa’s kids by funding our schools, raising the minimum wage statewide, working for better access to mental health care, establishing oversight over Iowa’s Medicaid mess, and taking real action for clean water. Working on these priorities will go a long way towards ensuring that we succeed together.