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Incumbents Dawn Driscoll and Kevin Kinney face off in redrawn Senate 46
While candidates both are incumbents and farmers, they differ on key issues including abortion and school funding
When Kevin Kinney, a Johnson County farm boy, became a sheriff’s deputy in the 1980s, he opposed abortion. But that view changed when he was assigned to a unit investigating sexual assault cases.
“I just remember the night I was at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, sitting on the edge of the bed taking a statement from a 13-year-old girl who had been sexually abused,” he told The Gazette.
The girl didn’t report the abuse for a few weeks and ended up being pregnant, Kinney said.
“At that point, I decided I did not feel like I could make a choice for her,” he said. “I did not want to revictimize a survivor of sexual abuse.”
Kinney, a Democrat who has served in the Iowa Senate since 2015, said he now sides with “the majority of Americans” in his belief early-term abortions should be legal and late-term abortions allowed if the mother’s health or safety is at risk or in cases of rape, sexual assault or incest.
Kinney, 59, of Oxford, is running against state Sen. Dawn Driscoll, a 43-year-old Republican from Williamsburg, to represent Senate District 46, which includes parts of Coralville, North Liberty and Tiffin, as well as Swisher, Shueyville, the Amanas and all the way west to Victor. The incumbents were thrown into the same district by the 2021 redistricting process.
Kinney was among 29 Eastern Iowans running for office who responded to a Gazette survey seeking responses on a variety of topics from abortion and school funding to carbon dioxide pipelines and tax law changes. He also talked with a reporter by phone Sept. 30.
Driscoll did not respond to the survey, nor did she reply to emails or a text message from The Gazette. The phone number she provided to the Iowa Secretary of State does not accept voicemails.
This makes it harder to know where Driscoll stands on key issues. However, she was among 60 Iowa lawmakers in 2021 to urge the Iowa Supreme Court to overturn a 2018 ruling that declared abortion a fundamental right under the state constitution, according to the Family Leader.
Iowa’s high court reversed that decision in June, opening a path for Iowa lawmakers to limit or ban abortion in the state.
Expected to be another hot issue in the 2023 legislative session is funding for K-12 schools.
Last year, the Iowa Senate passed a bill that would have provided state-funded scholarships of up to $5,500 a year for some Iowa children to attend private schools. The Iowa House did not pass the bill, but Gov. Kim Reynolds has indicated ongoing support for vouchers. Driscoll voted for Senate File 2369. Kinney did not.
“We need to increase staffing, create better access to STEM classes and provide extracurricular opportunities like FFA for our students,” Kinney said in The Gazette survey. “Additionally, we must make sure that preschool is available for all students while providing wraparound child care options for working families that need them.”
If Democrats continue to be outnumbered in the Iowa House and Senate, Kinney said they will need to do a better job advocating for public schools.
“Public schools do a very good job with kids with IEPs (Individual Education Plans) and behavior disorders,” he said. “They are tasked with educating everyone and for the most part, our public schools have done a good job.”
Kinney voted with Republicans, including Driscoll, in February to pass a bill to set a 3.9 percent flat state income tax rate. The plan is expected to reduce state income by $1.9 billion by the time the bill is fully enacted in five years.
Kinney said in the survey he’s proud of that vote, but wants to see how that bill affects the state’s budget before making more sweeping changes.
Kinney and Driscoll both are farmers.
Driscoll is past president of the Iowa County Farm Bureau and has been chair of the Ag in the Classroom program in schools and nursing homes, according to her online bio. She has coached volleyball and basketball, taught religious education and served as a 4-H community leader and preschool board president.
Occupation: Farmer, recruiter in the agriculture industry
Political office: Republican state senator since 2021
Occupation: Farmer, retired Johnson County Sheriff’s deputy
Political office: Democratic state senator since 2015
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