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Three candidates running for House District 85
Democratic incumbent Rep. Amy Nielsen is seeking a fourth term, running against Republican Wayne Grell and Libertarian Jacob Wenck
NORTH LIBERTY — One incumbent and two newcomers are running to represent House District 85, which includes Solon, North Liberty and parts of northeastern Johnson County.
Democratic incumbent Rep. Amy Nielsen is seeking her fourth term. She is running against Republican Wayne Grell and Libertarian Jacob Wenck. All candidates live in North Liberty.
Early voting begins on Oct. 19. This is also the first day absentee ballots can be mailed.
As of September 2022, the voter breakdown in Iowa House District 85 is: 9,140 active Democratic voters; 4,507 active Republican voters; and 6,353 active no party voters.
The election is Nov. 8.
Wayne Grell of North Liberty was nominated by Johnson County Republicans at a convention in July to run for District 85. This is his first time running for elected office.
“It was important to me that people have a choice,” Grell, 62, said.
Grell has worked various jobs over the years and owned several businesses. He has worked in construction, owned a bar and was part of his family’s warehousing manufacturing trucking company.
Grell also served 10 years on the North Liberty Board of Adjustment.
Grell said he thinks there is a “disconnect between parents and school.” He suggested schools prepare a weekly email to inform parents of what their children are doing and learning.
Grell is in favor of the governor’s proposed school voucher bill, which did not have enough votes to pass the Iowa House last session.
“I'm in favor of the money going out for, per se, private schools, home schooling, whatever it may be because I think that'll make the whole education better as a whole,” Grell said.
Other priorities Grell mentioned include fighting inflation, supporting law enforcement and changing eminent domain laws to help impacted landowners.
Rep. Amy Nielsen of North Liberty is seeking her fourth term in the Legislature. Nielsen, 45, was first elected to the Iowa House in 2016 to represented House District 77.
“I am running for re-election to continue helping everyday Iowans experience a better quality of life, help small businesses grow and protect public education,” Nielsen said.
Prior to being elected, Nielsen served as the mayor of North Liberty for two years. She was the first woman elected mayor in the city’s history.
During her six years in the Iowa House, Nielsen highlighted leading the effort to eliminate the pink tax, expanding opportunities for small agriculture experience businesses and expanding access to emergency medical services in rural areas.
If re-elected, Nielsen said her priorities going into the 2023 session will be lowering costs for Iowans, protecting reproductive freedom, investing in public schools and legalizing adult use of recreational marijuana.
“Iowans need to make sure their voices are heard and elect law makers that support all health care access, including reproductive health care,” Nielsen said.
Jacob Wenck of North Liberty is another first-time candidate running for office.
Wenck, 23, said the three biggest issues facing Iowans are the use of eminent domain, lack of funding for residential treatment for those struggling with mental health and the perpetuation of the failed war on drugs.
“Iowa desperately needs an expansion of its mental health facilities,” Wenck said. “ … Too often are families turned away because of lengthy wait lists or it's determined that the applicant is not an appropriate fit for the program.”
Asked about under what circumstances Iowans should be able to access abortion services, Wenck said abortion should be allowed during the first trimester. Wenck added if there is a medical danger, then abortion may be appropriate after the first trimester.
To improve public schools, Wenck said schools should have a plan for each student that focuses on what they are interested in for a career. Wenck does not support using state funds to help parents pay the costs of non-public schools or home schooling.
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