WHY I'M RUNNING
Because It's Time to Act Like Iowans.
Today, Iowans are facing a number of challenges impacting our quality of life. From a lack of mental health care options, teacher and labor shortages, stagnant wages, soaring child care costs, rising prices, lack of strong internet, and contaminated water, life is increasingly difficult for hard-working Iowans. We can't wait any longer. Decisions made today are going to impact us tomorrow and for decades to come. It's time we make a positive change in our state, collaborate across differences, and find sensible solutions to ensure our communities thrive now and for generations to come because Iowa is worthy of better.
This starts with the basics.
Growing up with a small business owner and a union factory worker at Bridgestone-Firestone as parents, I learned the importance of hard work and stretching a dollar. This is why I support a yearly balanced budget. However, I also believe we need to prioritize how the legislature spends our hard-earned tax dollars. Do we continue to provide very profitable Iowa corporations with tens of millions of dollars in yearly taxpayer subsidies or do we invest that money in Iowa’s hardworking families, public education, career opportunities, accessible and affordable mental health services, clean water, strong internet, thriving communities, and public safety? I support reprioritizing how our tax dollars are spent because our state and our people are worth investing in.
It's time to prioritize:
1. Hard-Working Families
As a latchkey kid, when my mother ran night appointments and my dad had to cover night shifts, there were few affordable childcare options that fit my family's work schedules. Unfortunately, this has not changed. Working parents are increasingly forced to make difficult decisions between working a second or even third job, paying for food and housing, and spending time with their children. Younger people are forced to decide between which partner must quit their job or wait to start a family due to the high-cost of childcare and the lack of accessible options.
Not only are families paying the price, but Iowa's employers lose millions of dollars due to a lack of childcare accessibility. I believe Iowans are worthy of more. Through government and employer partnerships and child care subsidies, we can offer affordable and accessible childcare options that will allow hardworking families the liberty to spend time with their loved ones, go to their children’s recitals, football games, and choir concerts, and take a break when their bodies need it.
2. Public Education
Ten years ago, U.S. News placed Iowa in the top ten for K-12 education in the country. Now, we are #43. Investing in our children’s education will provide for a better and a thriving workforce in the future. This means increasing resources and support to teachers by rebuilding the broad-based, bipartisan support for public schools that once made Iowa’s public education system the envy of the nation.
School curricula should evolve for a modern workforce. In addition to receiving technical, computer, management, and presentation skills, school curricula should emphasize transferable skills such as problem-solving, analytical thinking, and written and oral communication. As a proud union family, I believe hard working Iowans are the backbone of our state and those entering skills-based professions deserve the best skills-based training and support we can offer them.
3. Career Opportunities
Prioritizing people means investing in our workforce and this starts with career development and opportunities. We have a talented workforce right here in the state of Iowa that is worthy of opportunities, investment, and attention. This means starting with competitive wages and creating more skills-based training for our workforce. We should invest in modern equipment for in-demand jobs such as manufacturing, agribusiness, building trades, electrical trades, health care, and welding.
As a proud union household, I believe skills-based and technical work is equally important to other careers. Therefore, they deserve the same recruitment and training which starts at the high school level. We should increase the ability and accessibility for high-school students to receive skills-based training during their high school tenure by cultivating high school, community college, union apprenticeship programs, and workforce development partnerships.
4. Mental and Physical Health Care
Iowans deserve access to mental and physical health care options that are affordable to all. Due to the severe shortage of mental health facilities and the high-cost of care, Iowans in need of assistance have nowhere to turn. Overworked law enforcement agencies have become mental healthcare’s front-line workers. A waste of your tax payer dollars is to have law enforcement drive across the state to find an open hospital bed.
It is time we develop affordable and accessible mental and physical health care options in all 99 counties. Every Iowan should have the right to see a therapist, psychologist, and physician of their choosing to access routine and life-saving care. Preventive care is not only the moral thing to do, it is effective and a cost saving measure for Iowa’s taxpayers.
5. Clean Water and Land
As residents of an agricultural state, Iowans know the importance of conserving our land and water. Iowa is facing a water crisis. Thousands of Iowans are unable to drink from their tap because of radium and lead contamination as well as other pathogens. In Mitchellville, families (including my father) spend hundreds of dollars a year on filters to clean the town’s yellow and rusty water. Investing in 21st technology will save our monthly budgets, save ourselves from visits to the hospital, and save us from extra stops at the store for bottled water.
Additionally, it is time to fund the majority- Iowan supported National Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund which will clean our water, protect our soil, enhance wildlife habitat, revitalize rural communities, and increase outdoor recreation activities across the state. Due to climate change, Iowa has seen a derecho, a haboob, flooding, increased temperatures, humidity, soil erosion and water runoff, and spread of unwanted pests and other pathogens. We need to prepare ourselves for additional disasters and reduce our man-made impact. We can start by reinstating the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council and investing in renewable energy such as solar, wind, water, and ethanol (made from corn and other plant materials). Most importantly, if we conserve our land now, we will have a place to live and play many generations from now.
I believe local businesses are the foundation of strong communities. Due to the pandemic, rising prices, supply chains, and labor shortages, they are having a hard time keeping their doors open. We should make it easier for them to prosper by providing grants to first-time business owners and increasing forgivable, low-interest loans.
Due to a lack of strong, broadband internet, people are migrating from Iowa’s communities to other midwest states. Investing in strong and fast internet can recruit taxpayers with flexible telework schedules which will send money directly into local businesses and school districts, creating thriving communities now and for generations to come.
7. Women, Children, and the Exploited
As an anti-human trafficking advocate by day, the health and well-being of women and children are top of my mind. This is why I believe a woman should have the right to choose her own healthcare decisions throughout a pregnancy. Rape, incest, victims of human trafficking, miscarriages, and cancer and cystic fibrosis are among a number of reasons I, and if elected, the government should not be able to tell a woman what to do when forced to make incredibly hard personal decisions. I believe the right to make pregnancy decisions are between a woman, family members, faith, and their healthcare practitioner. Some call this pro-choice; for me, this is called personal freedom and common sense.
Women, children, migrants, the BIPOC community, and the underserved are extremely vulnerable to traffickers. This is why I would prioritize putting traffickers behind bars, protecting victims, providing services to those victimized, and increasing prevention efforts across the state. If elected, I hope to support passage of the Safe Harbor law that would prevent minors (under the age of 18) from being prosecuted for commercial sex and directs juvenile sex trafficking victims to non-punitive specialized services. This would stop people like Pieper Lewis from being put behind bars.
8. Public Safety
Due to a number of issues like the mental health crisis and human trafficking, our law enforcement have become our first-responders. Some officers in rural communities are simultaneously the mental health counselor, DEA representative, and medic all in the same hour. Today’s law enforcement is being drained due to a lack of resources, training, and support making it harder for them to do their jobs, protecting our communities, and keeping us safe. I believe in the strength of community-based policing. Our law enforcement should look like the community it represents and have strong relationships with the community it serves.
We need to strengthen our police force by funding the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy so officers receive top-notch training for a 21st-century Iowa. Increased training will ensure officers walk into any situation with the knowledge to understand the depth and nuances of every situation and are able to make better decisions in crisis situations.
I believe in an anti- exploitative and a victim and trauma-informed approach to law enforcement which means equipping law enforcement and the judicial system to empower and support victims of crimes to participate in criminal proceedings and to ensure their mental and physical safety is secured at every step of the criminal and judicial process.