Meet the Democratic candidates —Iowa gubernatorial, congressional candidates, presidential surrogate in Cresco
Thu, 10/05/2017 - 10:36am admin
—Iowa gubernatorial, congressional candidates, presidential surrogate in Cresco
Sara Stromseth-Troy TPD Staff
CRESCO - Approximately 50 people from Howard County and surrounding areas gathered at Kessel Lodge last week to listen to Iowa gubernatorial and congressional candidates, along with a surrogate for the first declared presidential candidate for 2020, John Delaney, at a meeting of the Howard County Democrats.
In attendance were gubernatorial candidates Andy McGuire, Cathy Glasson, Ross Wilburn, Nate Boulton, and James Davis of Charles City speaking for John Norris. Also present at the event were George Ramsey III, candidate for U.S. Congress, 1st District, former Iowa Senator Bill Heckroth speaking on behalf of his son, Thomas Heckroth, and Mark Galinsky, Iowa outreach director for the Delaney for President Campaign, speaking for John Delaney.
Howard County Democratic Party Chair Laura Hubka introduced the candidates, and also announced incoming Democratic Party Chair Rick Nance.
Following are excerpts from each candidate’s speech:
Gubernatorial candidate Andy McGuire
Andy McGuire began her remarks by acknowledging Cresco’s Mary Jo Wilhelm:
“This is a wonderful turnout and I want to thank you for inviting me here. The last time I was here, I was knocking on doors for (former Iowa Senator) Mary Jo (Wilhelm). Mary Jo is just a fabulous role model, and was a fabulous senator.”
McGuire described her family background:
“I was raised in a family of eight. My dad was a World War II fighter pilot who came home and started a construction business.”
“Mom stayed home with us. The thing I remember the most about growing up was talk about caring. If someone was sick, we went over and helped them out. If someone in the community fell down, the community got them back to their feet.”
McGuire said she doesn’t sense that community helpfulness as much today:
“Traveling through the 99 counties in the last couple of years, I don’t hear that as much. What I hear about is people don’t feel like they’re getting a fair shake, and they don’t feel like they are getting ahead with their families. I’m a doctor because I care about people when they were sick and injured, and I would be a governor who would care about all people being a success. That’s every person, wherever they live, whatever they are doing, that they can be all they can be.”
McGuire turned to the topic of health care:
“As a physician, I feel that health care is a right, not a privilege. I talked to some of the people caught up in this Medicaid privatization mess, and we’d made access to health care difficult for them. I talked to a mom of a child with disabilities. She has to drive an hour-and- a-half to get healthcare for her child. That’s not the Iowa way. That’s not caring about every citizen. As your governor, no one will have to worry about access to health care for their child or for themselves,” she said.
She also discussed mental health and substance abuse issues in Iowa:
“I also hear a lot about mental health and substance abuse and addiction. Iowa ranks 50th in mental health beds and we’re 47th in providers, and we’ve turned our law enforcement into our first line mental health providers. They have to put people in jail or an emergency room, two of the worst places for people in crisis. As your governor, I will make sure that there are mental resources in every community for our citizens; I think that is important."
She continued, "I also hear about the 15,000 women who no longer have their Planned Parenthood clinics because we’ve defunded Planned Parenthood. As a woman and a mother of five daughters and as a doctor, I will restore Planned Parenthood funding the very first day I am in office," she said.
Gubernatorial candidate Cathy Glasson
Cathy Glasson said, “I’m running for governor because I’m very sick and tired of seeing Iowans getting beat up. This year, Governor Reynolds and the legislature stripped away union rights from 184,000 hard-working Iowans, but they didn’t stop there; they lowered the minimum wage in Iowa’s largest counties.
“We don’t need a governor who is going to strip rights from workers and drive us down to the lowest common denominator. It’s time we had a governor that is going to step up and make big, bold changes, who is not afraid to stand up against the corporations and CEOs and make big changes to move our state forward, not backward.
She continued, “We need a governor who is going to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. We need a governor who instead of attacking collective bargaining and unions, is going to stand up and make it easier for workers to join a union or employee association not just roll back collective bargaining. We absolutely have to make sure stop demonizing teachers and starving public education and make sure the teachers and kids have the resources they need no matter where they live."
She then discussed corporate agriculture:
“I don’t think anyone wants to governor who is going to let corporate agriculture off the hook when they pollute over 750 waterways. Clean water should be a birthright for every single Iowan in this state. I’m a nurse, a union nurse and I’ve been fighting for quality affordable healthcare for decades. I’m tired of the debate in D.C. that is not going to improve health care of Iowans and offer affordable coverage for Iowans. I’m standing to ensure every single Iowan has access. We need universal single payer healthcare in Iowa or they need to pass Medicare for all in D.C."
Glasson said, "Our kids are graduating with huge student debt. It’s time we make college affordable to everyone who attends our public universities, and we absolutely need to make community colleges tuition free. We can’t win in 2018 if what we offer voters is watered sown, centrist, middle-of- the-road candidate or ideas. We need someone that’s going to step up and take bold progressive steps and move our state forward.”
Jim Davis on behalf of gubernatorial candidate John Norris
Jim Davis spoke on behalf of John Norris:
“I met John Norris in 1987. He was Jesse Jackson’s campaign manager. In 1998, the Iowa Democratic party was in tatters. We hadn’t won the governor’s office for 30 years, and Tom Vilsack was behind in the polls. John came in and took over the state party and righted the ship. Then he became Governor Vilsack’s chief of staff, so he knows state issues very well."
Davis continued, "Then he went to work in Washington for Vilsack in the USDA, and in the Obama Administration in a number of different positions. John’s got world-class experience but he also has Iowa common sense.”
Davis said, “John has a rural development strategy. He has the ability to bring this together; he’d make a great governor.”
Gubernatorial candidate Nate Boulton
Nate Boulton said, "I serve in the Iowa Senate and I represent East Des Moines and Pleasant Hill in the Iowa Senate but I grew up in a Columbus Junction, a town of about 2,000 people.”
He said he knew what he wanted to do with his law degree:
“I wanted to stand up for workers and workplace rights, representing injured workers and worker compensation cases, people who have had their lives turned upside down by workplace injuries, just looking for benefits and reasonable mental care to get their lives back on track. I’ve represented people who have been wrongly terminated, victims of sexual harassment in the workplace, and labor unions and labor law.”
He continued, “The Branstad-Reynolds Administration has given me a new practice area: We’ve sued them three separate times now when they’ve overreached on Iowa’s constitution and used illegal vetoes to hold back and take away from working families in our state. They shut down the mental health facilities in Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant, at a time when we know we need to do more, not less, for mental health funding. They shut down those facilities after a Republican House and Democratic Senate came together to fund those facilities. Instead of offering some new network of service, they shut them down and left people without services.
“I talked to a man whose brother died within three weeks after the facility in Clarinda was closed, because there was nowhere for him to go. That’s what this agenda has been about.
“When I went to the Iowa Senate it was to advance workplace rights and enhance the quality of life of people like my parents and grandparents.”
He continued, “This is the 52nd town I’ve been to so far. This is a fight for the soul of our state. If we are going to win, we just can’t talk about the things that we are against. Sure, the tough fights define us, but we have to share that positive vision forward for our state. Think about what Iowa can look like if we do fund education as a priority? What happens if we are able to recruit the next generation of quality teachers into our classroom? What happens if we are able to market to our strength again, our people? That’s what is on the ballot this year: Iowa’s future.”
Gubernatorial Candidate Ross Wilburn
Ross Wilburn introduced himself by way of describing a connection he had to Cresco:
“I played in marching band, and I remember competing in the state contest against Crestwood from Cresco in 1981,” he said.
Wilburn continued, “I’ve lived in Ames for the past three years and I work for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, and I work with community economic development and I’m also the diversity officer. Before that, I was the mayor in Iowa City, and I also worked for the school district, investigated complaints of discrimination and sexual harassment.”
He said, "I ran a crisis center in Johnson County, and I learned the power of volunteers and people who care. I had nine staff and 300 volunteers who did counseling and we operated a food bank. A couple of lessons: One is the power of volunteers but also the importance of income instability, because a lot of folks were working minimum wage, two or three jobs, and we do need to pump up the minimum wage to $15. That’s not extravagant; it’s barely enough to take care of everyday living needs.
“One of the messages I’ve been getting is: ‘Let’s be Iowa. Let’s take actions we know will improve the lives of everyday Iowans every day. I’ve learned and heard and agreed we want a healthy Iowa, a prosperous Iowa; a more welcoming, inclusive Iowa.
“That prosperous Iowa has to include support from pre-K, K-12 and beyond. Iowans have historically welcomed folks; in the 70's we welcomed folks from Southeast Asia fleeing persecution. It’s so easy and so difficult to not give into hate and fear and concern, especially if you are from a community of color, especially if you are a person living with a disability, if you are from the LGBTQI community, if you are from a rural area and you feel like Des Moines and Washington, D.C. have forgotten about you.
“We can make those investments. We cannot give in to the fear if we speak up, if we show love and choose a better path. Let’s be better; let’s be Iowa.”
Congressional candidate, 1st District Iowa, George Ramsey III
Ramsey introduced himself as “Originally from Kansas city, Missouri, the older of two boys raised by a single mother who often worked two jobs, sometimes three jobs, to make ends meet. I grew up in a neighborhood where every kid on the block, except for my brother and I had a mother and father in the home. By all accounts I should have been a statistic.”
He continued, “I lived in a family where all of my uncles were labor workers, many had served in Vietnam. And at age 17 I knew there was something I needed to do, because I’d always been drawn to the military. So, I joined the National Guard at 17 years old.”
“My mother had always raised my brother and I to believe in four things: To always trust in God, to believe in ourselves, to do right by others and to help those who were in need. I was drawn to service and to being a person committed to helping those in need. After two years of being in college, I went to the University of Kansas. My second year of college, I decided I wanted to go to the Army.”
Ramsey said that 23 years later, he heard he was getting a promotion:
“I remember in 2010, I was getting promoted and I dreamed I was going to a state that began with an ‘I’ and ended with an ‘a’, and so I told all of my friends in Indianapolis. Then, I got an e-mail saying I was going to Waterloo, and I had no idea what a ‘Waterloo’ was. So, we went to the map and we saw Waterloo is in northern Iowa. In 2012, the Army moved us here.”
Two years later, Ramsey decided to retire from the Army but remain in Iowa.
“We chose to stay in Iowa because from the day we moved here, the whole ‘Iowa nice’ thing is something we grew to love. We chose to stay here, but there was something else I wanted to do. In 2012, when President Obama won re-election and Mitch McConnell stood up and said that they were going to do everything they could to block him from being able to do anything productive in Washington, I became angry. As I talked to people all across the country, I sensed the feeling people were growing angry.
"When I came back to Iowa and made the decision to retire, it was people like you that convinced me it was time for someone to step up and lead. When I made the decision to run, it wasn’t because I wanted to be a Congressman, it’s that I wanted to be your Congressman."
He concluded, "We have the choice to make who we are going to choose to lead the fight to protect our government prosperity. We have the choice to make about who we are going to choose to protect our civil rights and civil liberties. We have the choice to make about who we are going to choose to lead the fight to protect our safety and our security in this country.”
Bill Heckroth for Congressional candidate, 1st District Iowa, Thomas Heckroth
“I’m here to speak on behalf of my son Thomas Heckroth. He would like to have been here tonight, but his wife Naomi is Jewish and today is Yom Kippur, so they have services tonight and tomorrow. Naomi celebrates the Christian holidays with Thomas and Thomas celebrates the Jewish holidays with Naomi, so that’s where they are tonight.”
He continued, “I’d like to share a bit of background about Thomas. I serve as his driver, so as I tell everybody, the opportunity to spend hours a day with your son is an opportunity that I cherish. I’ve gotten to know him so much more even when I did when he was growing up.”
Heckroth said his son was born in Waverly, a sixth-generation Iowan, and currently resides in Cedar Falls. He is a graduate of Waverly-Shell Rock High School and graduated from the University of Iowa.
“Thomas had a unique experience at the University of Iowa: He saw a clipboard on the wall with a sign that said, ‘Look into a program called a Semester in Washington’, which provided a student the opportunity to go to Washington, D.C. to take classes at George Washington University and to get an internship up on the hill with someone.
“If you knew our family, you know that we know everything there is to know about the Kennedys. Thomas knew that Senator Ted Kennedy and Senator John Culver were roommates at Harvard. So, Thomas said he was going to go to Des Moines and speak with then-Secretary of State Chet Culver and see if he’d put in a letter of recommendation to Senator Kennedy’s office. Thomas was able to serve a semester as an intern for Ted Kennedy.”
Heckroth said the experience was life-changing for his son.
“Thomas’ role was to travel from the senator’s office to his private office in the Capitol and he would walk into the private office and he said it was like walking into a shrine. There were pictures on the wall of President Kennedy, of Bobby Kennedy and of both of them together, and it was a life-changing experience for him. When he came back from that semester, there was no doubt in my mind that after he graduated college, he would go back to Washington D.C."
Heckroth said his son helped run his 2006 campaign for Iowa Senate, which he won, becoming the first Democrat to represent Bremer County.
Meanwhile, he says his son draws inspiration from four leaders: John F. Kennedy from the standpoint of his call for citizenship: ‘Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country’; Martin Luther King’s never-ending striving for social justice and equality; Dorothy Day, a community organizer who spent years bringing together Catholics to work for social justice within the community, and Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
He continued, “When someone says to Thomas, ‘Why are you running for Congress?’, it’s not cerebral for him; it’s based on these four things.
“His belief is is is time for us Americans and Iowans to own our own future. If the federal government would step up and invest in people; education and healthcare, if we will invest in infrastructure, technology and environment, think about the job that creates, and those jobs are here in Cresco, in Waukon, in Waverly. That’s what Thomas believes has to happen: We have to invest in our people and in our communities again.”
Mark Galinsky for Presidential candidate John Delaney
Mark Galinsky, Iowa outreach director of the Delaney for President Campaign, spoke on Delaney’s behalf:
“John comes from a blue collar background; he was born in New Jersey, the son of a union electrician. Thanks to his father being a union member, he went to school on scholarship to Columbia University. After he graduated, he started two successful businesses. The first of the businesses he took public on the New York Stock Exchange and was the youngest CEO of a publicly-traded company on the New York Stock Exchange.
“In 2012, he ran for Congress. He has been the representative for Maryland’s sixth congressional district since 2012, and ever since he’s been elected, the thing that’s really driven him is getting Washington working again through a bi-partisan manner.
“John has consistently ranked as one of the most bipartisan members of Congress, and you see that in all of the legislation he’s introduced and that he has been supportive of, so some of the big things he’s been working on are Infrastructure, which has received widespread bipartisan support with over 40 Republican 40 Democratic co-sponsors. John believes in free universal Pre-K for all 4-year-old children across the country. John is a member of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus. A more recent piece of legislation he introduced this year has to do with gerrymandering that would set up independent commissions across the country and would also make Election Day a national holiday, making it easier for everyone to vote.”
He continued, “John is the father of four daughters, so standing up for women’s rights is a big thing for John. Especially in this climate, this has been a time when John has been standing up for women’s rights, immigrants’ rights, minority rights, LGBT rights, and this divisive climate is what has inspired John to run for president.
“We have spent so much time over the past decade or longer talking and arguing about things we don’t agree on. A lot of these are very important things, but we need to focus on things that we can agree on. At this point, it’s driven families apart. There is nothing being done in this kind of climate. We need to get back to a political discourse where there is civility. John feels that he is very well suited for moving away from divisiveness and moving forward on focusing on things we can agree on and getting things done.”