116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — First-time statehouse candidate Republican Kris Gulick believes he can be a voice for Eastern Iowans as a member of the majority party in the Iowa Legislature while incumbent Democrat Todd Taylor said he can work across the aisle to “produce really good results for the people of Iowa.”
The candidates running for state Senate District 40 — which covers Robins, Hiawatha and parts of northwest, northeast and southwest Cedar Rapids — prioritize education, economic development and fiscal responsibility but differ on how to tackle the issues. Election Day is Nov. 8.
Gulick and Taylor both support legislation like House File 2085, which would allow people to get a temporary teaching license after completing an alternative teacher certification program.
Gulick, 63, who was registered as an independent until last year, said putting “subject matter experts” with real-life experience in the classroom could improve academic outcomes for students.
“I’ll give myself as an example,” Gulick said. “I’ve taught at the University of Iowa for almost 20 years. I’ve never had an education class, but I’m certainly a subject matter expert in the material I was teaching, and I had practical experience.”
Taylor, 56, said he is open to the idea of putting experts in to classrooms but wants to see them receive adequate teacher training.
“I’m open to the idea of someone who is an expert in physics being an educator,” Taylor said. “I don’t want to say just because you’re an expert in this field you’re right to be in a classroom.”
To make Iowa “a good place to work, live, raise a family and retire,” Taylor said, he would “listen to educators” who are experts in teaching and encourage parents to get involved. He also wants to see smaller class sizes.
Schools across the nation are facing a shortage of educators. "We’ve got to stop vilifying teachers“ and encourage them to come to Iowa, Taylor said.
Gulick wants to find ways to encourage the growth of programs across the state like Iowa BIG, a project-based learning program in Cedar Rapids for high school students.
“It’s easy just to throw more dollars at things,” Gulick said. “The hard part is looking at solutions and outcomes and the best way to get there. … Having an educated citizenry is important. Ultimately, we’re creating the next workforce for businesses and employers in the state.”
Gulick, of Cedar Rapids, served on the Cedar Rapids City Council from 2006 to 2018. He said his experience as a certified public accountant has prepared him to make decisions on the state’s budget.
Another of Gulick’s priorities is to improve the state’s workforce shortage by finding ways to attract people to Iowa.
“We have to make sure we get the word out around the country that the quality of life here is great and the education system is good — we’d like to get it even better,” he said.
Another way to do this is for Iowa to accept more immigrants and refugees and support organizations like the Catherine McAuley Center in Cedar Rapids, an education and refugee and immigrant services program, Gulick said.
If elected, Gulick said he will be “objective and independent in my views” and represent his constituents. “My sole reason for running for office is that Cedar Rapids, Robins and Hiawatha — we don’t have representation in Des Moines in the majority part, and that’s not good for us,” Gulick said. “We need a seat at the table in the majority in order to stand up for our communities here.”
Taylor, of Cedar Rapids, is seeking re-election to a second Senate term after serving 12 terms in the Iowa House. Taylor recently retired after being a union representative with American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees for 28 years where he gained skills in negotiation, which comes in handy in the Legislature, he said.
Taylor said he doesn’t think the district is “any lesser represented” by someone in the minority party. “I’m disappointed in what I’ve seen in state government, and I still want to be a part of it because I think I can make a different from inside,” Taylor said.
Taylor’s other priorities include strengthening voting rights, renewable energy, broadband and positioning Iowa to be a leader in biofuels, wind and solar energy, he said. Taylor also wants to see property taxes reduced or eliminated for people on fixed incomes like senior citizens.
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