Legislature

Cedar Rapids engineer Courtney Rowe joins 1st District Democratic race

Rowe seeking U.S. House seat held by Republican Rod Blum

Courtney Rowe plans to run in Democratic primary in Iowa’s 1st District. Photographed in The Gazette office in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, May 30, 2017. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Courtney Rowe plans to run in Democratic primary in Iowa’s 1st District. Photographed in The Gazette office in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, May 30, 2017. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Courtney Rowe told herself “one day I’ll run for office,” but after the 2016 election she decided she couldn’t wait.

“People are disheartened by politics as usual,” Rowe said Tuesday.

Active in local party and campaign activities, Rowe is seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. House 1st District seat held by Republican Rep. Rod Blum.

The lack of trust in government and the lack of progress voters see in their own lives and communities was manifested in Blum’s re-election and the election of Donald Trump, an anti-establishment candidate who voters saw as “scaring both parties,” Rowe said.

Rowe thinks voters might want a more thoughtful and straightforward approach to dealing with the issues.

“Maybe they want someone really direct — like an engineer,” the 35-year-old aerospace engineer for a Cedar Rapids defense contractor said. “If we don’t elect people with ideas who want to solve problems, we get the lack of progress we continue to see.”

A senior systems engineer in commercial systems fly-by-wire flight controls, Rowe wants to take a systematic approach to those issues. She rejects the idea that every decision “comes down to the energy versus the environment or the environment versus the economy.”

“Those are false choices. Solutions should take in both,” Rowe said.

For example, Rowe is proposing a deficient neutral green energy plan that she believes will create business opportunities and put people to work while making the nation more energy secure and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. One part of her plan is changing Federal Housing Administration mortgage regulations to allow homeowners to finance clean energy improvements over 20 to 30 years.

It will help make homes more energy efficient and create a customer base for alternative energy companies, which will result in more jobs and more investment in clean energy.

“And it doesn’t cost the government anything,” she said.

Overall, her emphasis will be on improving the economy for the working class and middle class.

“It’s hard to think about other issues if you can’t pay the rent or can’t afford health care,” she said.

Rowe is encouraged by the enthusiasm and energy she sees at Democratic events. It’s been standing room only at Linn County Democratic Party meetings since December and she hears similar reports from across the 20-county 1st District that includes Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Cedar Falls, Waterloo and Marshalltown.

“People are paying attention,” she said, adding that the challenge will be to engage northeast Iowans who didn’t vote in the 2016 election and to convince those who flipped from Obama voters to Trump voters to come back to the Democratic Party.

“We need to have the right discussions in the primary,” Rowe said.

Rowe, who filed with the Federal Election Commission Friday, joins State Rep. Abby Finkenauer of Dubuque as an announced candidate. Others are said to be considering the race, which will be decided by a June 2018 primary.

Despite Blum’s re-election and Trump’s support in the 1st District, voter registration favors Democrats. According to the Iowa Secretary of State Office, there are 170,560 Democrats, 148,647 Republicans and 200,612 no party voters in the district.

For more on Rowe, go to facebook.com/pg/courtneyroweforcongress.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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