116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The six Republicans running in the Tuesday primary for an Iowa House District 91 hope to make education a priority, if elected, but offer differing approaches.
The candidates are John George of Marengo, Adam Grier of Williamsburg, Devon Hodgeman of Oxford, Skylar Limkemann of Tiffin, Matt McAreavy of Oxford and Brad Sherman of Williamsburg.
The new district, created through last year’s redistricting, covers all of Iowa County and parts of Johnson County, including Oxford, Tiffin, Swisher and Shueyville.
Whoever wins the primary will face Democrat Elle Wyant of Marengo, who is running unopposed, in the Nov. 8 general election.
Here is information on the candidates.
George is a Marengo resident and his online resume states he is a deputy representative for Iowa’s 1st Congressional District for the Libertarian Party of Iowa. His legislative priorities include election integrity, property tax reform and veterans’ rights, he said.
He “wholeheartedly” backs Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proposal to create taxpayer-funded scholarships to pay for private school tuition, otherwise known as the school voucher program. However, he said he believes it shouldn’t be introduced in Iowa’s “current captured market,” or else it will fail.
This is George’s third campaign for state office. George ran unsuccessfully as a Libertarian for the Iowa Senate in 2016 and the Iowa House in 2018.
In a photo posted on Facebook by the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, George is seen wearing a QAnon T-shirt after filing his nomination papers. The group embraces a wide range of unsubstantiated conspiracy theories.
Grier, an ex-Marine, was elected mayor of Williamsburg last year after 12 years on the city council.
Grier listed national issues among his list of priorities, including addressing rising inflation and advocating for individual rights, such as the right to bear arms.
At the state level, he said he would advocate for anti-abortion legislation, including cutting taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood facilities in Iowa, and would support programs aimed at addressing workforce shortages.
Grier also supports Kim Reynolds’ proposed school voucher program, which failed to pass the Iowa Legislature this year.
“Parents need to be trusted to do what is best for their families,” he said. “The school funding does not belong to the Department of Education or teachers' unions. The money came from farmers and other hardworking Iowans, and individual families should have the right to do what is best for their families.”
Hodgeman owns a cabinet and custom woodworking company. He moved to Iowa in 2000 after growing up in California.
In a list of legislative priorities provided to The Gazette, Hodgeman said he supported school choice and parents’ rights to “have a say in what their children are taught.” He wants to strengthen industrial arts programs in public high schools, stating he believes it's a necessary step for building the next generation of trade workers.
Hodgeman said he was “ecstatic” about the leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion that indicated the justices may overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that guaranteed the right to an abortion, calling the ruling “an egregious usurpation of what was clearly a states’ rights issue.”
“That said, while I would be an advocate for securing rights for the unborn where I can, frankly I do not see an Iowa legislative body outright banning abortion,” he said.
Limkemann is a member of the Tiffin City Council and a volunteer emergency medical technician with the city’s fire department. A senior attorney with Smith Mills Schrock Blades, he said he helped write the “Back the Blue” legislation that Reynolds signed into law last year.
Limkemann said Improving higher education would be a main priority, if he is elected. More dollars should be invested in the state’s public universities, he said, especially given how education costs continue to increase. But that doesn’t mean handing a blank check to the Iowa Board of Regents, he said.
He also plans to address health care staffing challenges at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and other health care systems, saying he plans to emphasize supporting nursing staff.
“Also, I want to invest in our public employees,” Limkemann said. “We must not forget that it is the people who make the institution. We must recruit and retain the best and brightest talent to serve at all levels and in all departments.”
McAreavy is a school board member for the Clear Creek-Amana Community School District.
Public education is high on McAreavy’s list of priorities. If elected, he said he would focus on improving the state’s school finance structure, which he described as one of the most archaic in the nation. He said lawmakers should make school finances more transparent, thereby increasing the trust Iowans have in their education system.
McAreavy does not support Reynolds’ vouchers bill as it is now written. However, he said he is in favor of giving parents more choices and freedoms “if they find themselves dealing with failing schools.”
“We all pay taxes that are intended to benefit the public schools, and that's where it should stay,” he said. “Allowing some to reallocate money intended for public schools that are already struggling to private schools seems counterproductive and unfair to rural students and families who don't live close enough to private schools to make transferring practical.”
Sherman, chairman of the Iowa County Republicans, is pastor at the Solid Rock Church in Coralville. He’s running for office, he said, because there’s a need “for ‘backbone’ in Des Moines.”
“I have observed too many elected representatives who would not stand on principle, but were all too willing to simply be a rubber stamp for establishment directives,” Sherman said. “I will evaluate each issue on its merit. I will not be a rubber stamp for any donor or political operative.”
Sherman’s campaign website focuses on national issues, where he argues against limits on the Second Amendment and against the separation of church and state.
As for private school vouchers, Sherman said he supports parents’ choice and would support public money following a child to a private school. He said free market competition results in better quality products, and he believes the principle can be applied to education.
“Public schools need to get rid of the ‘woke’ agenda and get back to teaching practical, basic educational skills with excellence,” he said.
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