I grew up in rural Cedar County, and campaigning for political office was never something I thought I would do. But after the 2016 election, I realized we need change in Des Moines, and I was ready to run. My campaign is funded entirely by individual donors; we’ve knocked on more than 10,000 doors, and we’ve shown my district that kindness still matters.
Last week I was out canvassing, and one voter nearly broke my heart. She’s a union worker with seniority in her factory job. She told me that her company was taken over, and her co-workers are being laid off. She knows she is next. She’s too young to retire.
“I’m going to lose my health coverage,” she said, and I could hear the despair in her voice. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
This is the reality so many in our state are facing. Wages are stagnant. Too many people are working two, three jobs to put food on the table, without any thought to saving for retirement. Health care premiums are skyrocketing. Small businesses and small farmers are struggling, too. At the same time, our state gives huge tax cuts to the wealthy, and tax breaks to out of state corporations. This is not fair. This is not the Iowa way.
There’s a lot that we can do to make this better. To start with, Iowans are hardworking, well-educated people; we have land, transportation, and strong infrastructure. Companies should be competing for the right to do business here!
Next, we must offer an affordable public option for health insurance. We must increase the minimum wage — while offering subsidies for small businesses so they can afford to pay their employees what they deserve. We must make sure affordable housing is available for all. We must improve the roads in our rural areas. We must make higher education more affordable, and cap student loan interest rates.
And we need to get the corrupting influence of money out of politics so that our elected officials represent Iowans, not special interests or big corporations.
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Over the past year I have been talking to voters across the political spectrum — and listening to them, too. We share the same Iowa values. We can work together to fix this.
• Jodi Clemens is the Democratic candidate in Iowa House District 73.
All candidate guest columns in House District 73:
• Bobby Kaufmann, Republican, provided no column