Endorsements for Iowa Legislature

By The Gazette Editorial Board


Our endorsements in seven contested state legislative seats in the Corridor area:

Senate District 15:

Bob Dvorsky

Dvorsky, Coralville Democrat, is one of the Legislature’s most effective and knowledgeable veteran leaders. He played a big role in dealing with the budget and policy demands of the post-2008 flood and recession period. The chair of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee oversaw more than $90 million in state flood assistance to the Corridor area, while also addressing the governor’s across-the-board cuts and fighting to protect education funds.

His opponent, Dr. Christopher Peters, Iowa City Libertarian, raises valid concerns about state and federal spending and debt. Iowa’s state budget is in better shape than the vast majority of states, but serious challenges still loom. Dvorsky and other legislators must continue efforts to streamline state government and not be quick to expand spending as the economic recovery progresses.

House District 29:

Nathan Willems

Willems’ first term was a test under fire in dealing with the natural and economic disasters. Nonetheless, the young Lisbon Democrat made his mark on several pieces of legislation, including compromise on support of home schooling. His work on revising underage drinking laws and protecting Iowa Legal Aid program stood out, and he was named vice chair of the House Labor Committee.

His challenger, Shawn Graham, Springville Republican, is a first-time office seeker and small business owner who delivers a compelling message about excessive tax and regulatory burdens on small businesses. It’s one we hope Willems remembers if re-elected.

House District 30:

Dave Jacoby

Jacoby, a Coralville Democrat, served as a member of the Rebuild Iowa and Disaster Recovery Committee. He can relate to 2008 flood victims. His Cedar Rapids business was badly damaged. He rightly puts a priority on making sure Iowa victims promptly get the assistance that’s been promised. He draws support from both business and labor sectors and agrees that state government reorganization must continue regardless of how fast tax revenues rebound. He espouses a fiscally responsible philosophy and supports review of the state tax structure to make it more equitable.

Challenger Dustin Krutsinger, Coralville Libertarian, is a medical student and family man who believes both major parties must do better to control spending and growth in government bureaucracy. Agreed.

Still, Jacoby, a legislative veteran, is the best choice to balance fiscal responsibility and identify spending priorities.

House District 33:


Kirsten Running-Marquardt served just one session after winning a 2009 special election to fill out a vacated seat. Nonetheless, she introduced 12 bills and won approval of several measures, including those that preserved Cedar Rapids’ Ellis Harbor, improved disaster case management for flooded areas and protected residents’ genetic information from being used for discriminatory purposes by health insurance companies.

She’s still on a learning curve for several issues, including watershed management.

Her opponent again is Josh Thurston, Cedar Rapids Republican. Unfortunately, we did not hear from him.

House District 34:

Todd Taylor

Taylor has logged 15 years in the Legislature and most recently served as chair of the Justice System Appropriations Subcommittee. He also served on the Rebuild Iowa panel and recognizes the importance of regional approaches to watershed management, as well as revenue diversification to reduce reliance on property taxes.

Taylor told us it’s important that the Legislature live within its means. We hope he steps up his leadership in this area.

Taylor’s opponent, Jim Burke, a young Cedar Rapids resident with an engineering background, is making his first stab at politics. His focus is on better spending control and creating a better tax environment for business. He also is critical of what he says has been a flawed state process responding to flood victims.

Burke’s knowledge was sparse in some key state issues, though, and Taylor seems best qualified.

House District 37:

Renee Schulte

We see many reasons to endorse either candidate. Both are knowledgeable with clear stands on many issues.

Our choice, though, is Cedar Rapids Republican Schulte. We believe the adjunct college professor of psychology is poised to take on House leadership roles, especially if her party wins back a majority seating. Schulte has built in-depth knowledge of Medicaid and mental health issues. She’s an advocate of budget transparency and rooting out misuse of funds. She places a high priority on helping small business rebound from the recession while looking for more efficiencies in state government. And she insists property tax reform must be addressed next session.

Mark Seidl, an attorney and Cedar Rapids Democrat, advocates for the continued rebuilding of our community and ensuring good schools and quality of life. He sees “gaping wounds” in state tax credits, and we agree they need more scrutiny. And, like Schulte, he supports tougher enforcement of open records laws.

House District 38:

Tyler Olson

Tyler Olson has become a stronger legislative voice, most recently holding vice chair positions in Ways and Means, one of the most powerful committees. He’s also served on Rebuild Iowa.

The Cedar Rapids Democrat teamed up with Dvorsky and other Corridor legislators to provide vital disaster legislation.Challenger Jason Marshall of Cedar Rapids needs to broaden his knowledge of state issues.

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