Five of the six candidates running for a seat in Des Moines attended a digital forum hosted by the Dyersville Commercial and Dyersville Area Chamber of Commerce, Oct. 7.
Each candidate was given equal time to introduce themselves and explain their positions on policy. The event highlighted the race for Senate District 48 where incumbent Dan Zumbach, of Ryan, faces Eric Green, of Monticello; Representative for District 57, featuring incumbent Shannon Lundgren, of Peosta, against Ryan Quinn, of Dyersville; and Representative for District 96, where incumbent Lee Hein will face challenger Everett Chase, of Monticello. Chase was unable to attend the forum.
Lundgren, a lifelong resident of Dubuque County vying for her third term in office, said she originally decided to throw a hat in the ring after years of dealing with the frustration of regulations and red tape she faced as a small business owner.
Lundgren described herself as a pro-life advocate, a defender of the 2nd Amendment and a proponent of less regulation and less government intervention.
Quinn, a Dyersville resident who moved to Dubuque County in the late 1990s from Southwest Wisconsin, said he’s spent most of his adult life in the technology industry, focusing on web and software development.
Quinn said his family was not well-off growing up, his father being a disabled veteran and his mother a certified nursing assistant. He said one of the reasons he decided to run was due to Lundgren running unopposed; he said he strongly believes having a choice on the ballot is essential to any democracy.
Eric Green has spent most of his life in Monticello, where he runs a small restaurant that staffs around 16 employees. He said it’s always fascinated him that two people from different backgrounds can have such opposing viewpoints, while those with completely different upbringings can share the same philosophical outlook.
Green said his policy vision probably won’t benefit everyone at first, but will help everyone in the long run.
Hein, the incumbent who has nearly a decade of experience in office under his belt, said when he first ran for the house Iowa was in a tough spot financially. He decided he would run on fiscal responsibility and prioritizing funding needs instead of wants.
He said the budget is still his number one priority and that despite the challenges being thrown at the State in the wake of COVID-19, they are still on track to close the year with a $305 million surplus and all reserves filled.
Zumbach, a lifelong farmer who appeared from his combine during the Zoom meeting, said Iowa was nearly $1 billion in debt when he first ran for office, but now there is a surplus. Zumbach said this was accomplished even while lowering taxes and legislating historically high funding for schools, a feat few can claim except those in current Iowa leadership positions.
Zumbach chairs the agricultural committee while also sitting on the natural resources and transportation committee. As someone who farms, cares for the environment and has a hand in a trucking business, he said he is in his “wheelhouse” and is proud to be part of a caucus that has an array of talents and skills that can benefit and serve Iowans.
The candidates answered an array of questions in the roughly one-hour-and-20-minute forum, ranging from vaccines to what consequences supervisors should face for employee malfeasance.
All candidates were also posed the question about what two things they would do to help spur economic development in smaller communities.
Every candidate began their answer hammering on the same point: bringing better, faster and more reliable connectivity to the area through broadband.
For his second response to the question, Zumbach said it seems more people are now choosing a town to live in and then finding a job, the opposite of previous trends where people relocated for work.
Zumbach said things like good trail systems, along with other amenities and school systems, could help draw more people to the area who want to experience what small-town Iowa has to offer.
Lundgren said a lot of rural communities struggle to tap into grants and other funding resources simply due to the amount of time and paperwork required to apply, a feat that often can’t be accomplished by a mayor and city clerk.
She said it is important to have agencies like ECIA to help guide and educate municipalities through the process.
Hein said rural EMS is something he’s been fighting for, adding that he has heard of people that have waited 45 minutes to an hour for an ambulance to arrive, something he finds unacceptable.
Hein said a lot of rural communities don’t have the resources to staff EMS, and even those that do can’t do it 24 hours a day.
Green said he believes more needs to be done to keep local businesses more competitive with online retailers, which could be accomplished through more education.
He also believes that by supporting more training opportunities at local community colleges, a more attractive workforce would take shape that would inevitably draw in more industry.
Quinn really emphasized the need for better broadband access, harkening back to the time of a dial-up dominated market when he was working remotely in Luxemburg and paying a hefty sum for satellite internet that was essential to his job.
Quinn said he believes fewer tax dollars need to be spent enticing out-of-state corporations and instead providing those dollars to Iowans to start or grow existing businesses. He said Iowans are self-sufficient people and when they get a hand-up instead of a hand-out, they can accomplish some pretty amazing things.