Bergan, Lecander answer questions ahead of election

Iowa HOUSE DISTRICT #63 - Michael Bergan, Republican Party, has served in the House of Representatives since 2017 and is running for his third term in the Nov. 8 election.
Tim Lecander, Democratic Party, is excited to run for office for the first time.
Both candidates were asked questions about themselves and why they are running for office. Their answers appear below.
Michael Bergan
• Tell readers a little about yourself.
I have been a life-long resident of Winneshiek County, raised on a dairy and beef farming operation. I obtained BA degrees in Accounting and Economics from Luther College. Along with my wife Carol, we have raised two daughters and enjoy two grandchildren in the area. I enjoy the diversity of our natural resources and the people in our communities that thrive on the opportunity in Northeast Iowa.
• What assets do you bring to the table?
I bring experience of serving in the legislature and as a county supervisor in Winneshiek County. With over 35 years of working as an income tax preparer, I am experienced with budgeting and finance. 
I have been involved in early childhood care and education for over 25 years, serving on local and state level policy boards. Similarly, I have been involved in prevention and early intervention in the areas of child abuse, child and adult mental illness and addiction. I have a strong background in agriculture and understanding of the issues that face our farming communities.
• What are the challenges facing rural Iowa?
Recovery from COVID and the current period of inflation challenge our economic stability. 
Supply chain disruptions and increasing costs of borrowing will slow our growth and impact household budgets. Maintaining a balanced budget, moderating state spending and reducing the income tax burden will help families and make Iowa a competitive state for economic development. 
Another significant challenge is access to broadband internet access in rural Iowa. Broadband access provides a competitive advantage in business and increases access for education alternatives. Iowa is in its fourth year of broadband expansion grants, with over $300 million in state and federally funded grants that leverage private funding to total an over $730 million investment. Eight grants are being implemented locally involving over $25 million in grants.
• Mental illness is a huge problem all over. Do you have any ideas on how to help that segment of the population?
Iowa is making steady progress on access to mental health treatment. More work is being done to implement better services on a local, regional and statewide basis. We need to build on initiatives implemented to expand the number of mental health professionals, community-based services and addiction treatment options. 
Work is needed on diversion programs to move affected individuals to treatment instead of our jails and prisons.
 • Any goals for after you get elected?
I am committed to work on the challenges we face in addressing access to mental health and addiction treatment, broadband expansion and developing a sound state budget. 
I will work to support early care and education for children and families. I will study the complex issues that we face so that I can help develop sound solutions and make informed decisions in the Iowa House of Representatives.

Tim Lecander

• Tell readers a little about yourself.
I grew up in the Decorah area, graduated from Luther, raised two daughters in the Quad City area and have two grandchildren. June Melby and I returned to the Decorah area about 12 years ago. I love how Northeast Iowa has its own flavor of heritage, from families who have lived here for generations, to newcomers like me, who have been in the area for only 50 years. This gives a unique blend of viewpoints, and the karst topography makes the experience richer.
• What assets do you bring to the table?
My background is different than other candidates. I have a BA from Luther in Physics and Spanish. I’ve worked in IT for various manufacturing and distribution companies for four decades, so I know the working side of industry from the inside. I will bring a different perspective to the Iowa legislature. 
I’m also interested in our environment. I live in rural Bluffton Township in Winneshiek County, where I manage 60 acres of woodland. I have seen first-hand the impact of extreme weather conditions on my own property.
• What are the challenges facing rural Iowa?
Rural internet and access to critical social services. I would like to find ways to increase accessibility to medical, dental and mental services in our small rural towns, especially for low income families. 
My background in Information Technology gives me a toolkit to better understand the problems and solutions available to bridge the gaps providing broadband. For social services, we need to come up with solutions to make these services available and affordable to everyone, and especially within a shorter driving distance.
• Mental illness is a huge problem all over. Do you have any ideas on how to help that segment of the population?
The recent introduction to 988 - the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline - is a step in the right direction. As a future member of the Iowa Legislature, I intend on making sure that this new program is properly funded. As I mentioned above, making services available locally for rural communities is also important.
• Any goals for after you get elected?
As I mentioned above, rural broadband will be a challenge. This would be a new initiative for a need that is not addressed at all. Ideally this would be a service handled by a private company, but I believe the state has the responsibility to recognize the issue and bring interested parties together to find a solution. 
I should add that this should include other communications gaps. We live in the 21st century, and yet there are many areas of my district that have no cell phone service, while at the same time the legacy telephone landlines are falling into disrepair, leaving residents completely isolated.

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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