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House 78 candidates disagree on abortion, election security and school vouchers
Republican Anne Fairchild is running against Democrat Sami Scheetz in Cedar Rapids district
CEDAR RAPIDS — A pair of political newcomers running for a Cedar Rapids seat in the Iowa House both oppose the use of eminent domain for carbon capture pipelines to support the state’s ethanol industry, but they disagree about abortion access, devoting public tax dollars to private school scholarships and the security of Iowa’s elections.
Republican Anne Fairchild is running against Democratic community organizer Sami Scheetz for the Iowa House District 78 seat, which largely encompasses southeast Cedar Rapids.
The newly redrawn district has been represented by Democratic state Rep. Liz Bennett, who is running for an open Senate seat against Republican Edward “Bernie” Hayes.
Fairchild was nominated to run for the seat in a special nominating convention of Republicans on July 28. Scheetz ran unopposed in the June Democratic primary.
Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than two-to-one in the district. As of Oct. 3, the district had 10,472 registered Democrats, 4,315 registered Republicans and 6,555 no-party voters, according to the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office.
Fairchild, 53, a Cedar Rapids native who moved back to her hometown in 2018, has worked the last 24 years in product marketing and product management roles in the financial services industry.
She said she is running to contribute to Iowa’s success by improving the state’s education systems, encouraging more citizen representatives to get involved in state and local government and using business experience “to find creative solutions to the problems we face.”
“I’m not a professional politician,” Fairchild said in an interview. “I felt it really important that we have someone with business experience and … representing conservative values.”
Fairchild’s platform includes a push to ban the use of voting machines and ballot tabulators, and eliminating same-day voter registration and no-excuse absentee voting.
Fairchild falsely claimed vote tabulators in the state are connected to the internet, making them vulnerable to hacking and manipulation — a myth rebutted by Republican Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate.
Fairchild, though, pointed to programming mistakes in Kansas and Georgia that caused an inaccurate vote count in county races. In both cases, county and state officials resolved the issues, which were caught in either a postelection audit or caught by earlier checks in the process. Election officials in each state said their state’s verifiable paper-based system ensured that the results they certified were accurate and reflect the will of their voters.
Regardless, Fairchild insisted that the voting process in the U.S. is flawed, and that she does not believe the country “has had a free or fair election for decades, to be really honest.”
Fairchild said she believes life should be supported from conception to natural death, and that abortion should be restricted, with very limited exceptions, such as protecting the life of the mother.
She said she supports Iowa’s fetal heartbeat abortion ban passed in 2018. The law seeks to ban abortions after 6 weeks into a pregnancy, with limited exceptions. It was blocked in court and has not gone into effect.
Asked if she supports the use of state funds to help parents pay the costs of sending children to non-public K-12 schools, Fairchild said she supports the ability for parents to send their children to the school that best meets the needs of their children.
Scheetz, a 26-year-old community organizer who is working with Iowa Democrat Mike Franken’s campaign for the U.S. Senate, said he is running to “restore the Iowa dream.”
“Iowa used to be a place where, if you just worked hard, you’d be able to do better than your parents,” Scheetz told The Gazette in an interview. “There was social mobility. There was equality of opportunity … and that’s just not the reality anymore.
“ … That equality of opportunity is what I’m fighting for — giving people a chance to just work hard and succeed.”
Born and raised in Cedar Rapids, Scheetz, the son of an immigrant teacher and a lawyer, would become Iowa’s first Arab American state lawmaker, if he is elected.
He said he would like to see the state’s record $2 billion budget surplus used to rebuild Iowa’s public education system after years of underfunding, address infrastructure needs and expand health care access.
He also would like to see Iowa pursue the goal of providing free community college.
He, like Fairchild, opposes using eminent domain for carbon pipelines. He believes tax relief should first help working and middle-class families instead of largely benefiting wealthy taxpayers.
He opposes Republican proposals for restricting access to abortion and opposes funding private school scholarships.
He said Iowa’s privatization of Medicaid has needlessly complicated care for countless working class families and led to decreased service for Iowans with disabilities.
Scheetz, too, said he would work to restore collective bargaining rights for public employees in Iowa and push for policies like prevailing wages and project labor agreements.
Election Day is Nov. 8. Early voting starts Oct. 19.
Residence: Cedar Rapids
Occupation: Senior product manager for company that provides financial services to credit unions
Former political offices: None
Residence: Cedar Rapids
Occupation: Political and communications adviser for Franken for Iowa
Former political offices: None
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