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|Candidate Statements for the November 2 Election|
|Commentary/Politics - National Politics|
|Written by No Author|
|Tuesday, 26 October 2004 18:00|
The River Cities’ Reader asked candidates in contested Scott and Rock Island county races – from people running from U.S. Senate to county offices – a simple question:
“Compare yourself to and contrast yourself with your opponent(s) in terms of your respective positions on the issues you think will be most important during the next term of the office you’re seeking.
This basic question provided candidates the opportunity to show their understanding of important issues, establish their priorities, and explain how they differ from their opponents.
Twenty-three candidates provided a response. Those answers follow.
We don’t intend this to be your only source for campaign information, but we hope it assists you in making a decision about for whom you’ll vote.
U.S. Representative, 17th District
Lane Evans, Democrat
I have been proud to serve as your representative in Congress for the last 22 years. Many of the young parents I met on my first campaign are now grandparents. Many of us have grown and grayed, but many of the issues are the same. Factories are still closing and unemployment is still too high. The “voodoo economics” of the 1980s have been replaced with a “tax cut for billionaires.” And in the meantime, education has slowly been underfunded, affordable quality health insurance is even harder to find, and drug prices are out of the sky. It is these issues that keep me going in Washington, D.C.
I am asking for your vote again, because there are many issues in Washington we still need to tackle. Unfortunately my opponent has made it clear the only people she would stand up for is the Republican leadership that has let this district down at every opportunity. This leadership is out of touch with the working people of America and more interested in protecting its own power than protecting you, the working man and woman.
For the last 25 years, we’ve seen more and more jobs lost in the Quad City area. While we can’t stop the loss of all of these jobs, we certainly can improve the climate for our remaining manufacturers and blue-collar workers. We can start by either scrapping or renegotiating the many trade agreements that have allowed our jobs to be outsourced. The American worker cannot compete with Mexico or China, and we should never have to until these countries enforce labor standards and provide a living wage. The American worker deserves to compete on a level playing field, and that is not what we have now.
We also need to close the tax loopholes that allow U.S. companies to simply open a P.O. box in places like Bermuda and call it their headquarters, thereby getting out of paying most of their taxes. We call these companies “corporate expatriates” because they’ve renounced their citizenship while still taking complete advantage of the U.S. market. One way to stop it is to close this loophole. Another is to ban the world’s biggest business, the U.S. government, from doing business with them. While billions in tax revenue are lost and our national debt grows, President Bush and the Republican congressional leadership will not take action.
Another problem we have is the growing number of uninsured and even underinsured. It has risen to 45 million Americans and once again, President Bush and the Republican Congress have no plan to address it. They are willing to offer tax credits, but they do not understand that most of the uninsured cannot afford to wait a whole year or more for their tax refund. It is just another instance of Republican callousness that my opponent doesn’t seem to differentiate from.
I support affordable health insurance for all Americans. I don’t believe that good health care should be reserved for the healthy and privileged. I have always supported a health-care system that covers every American and does not force them to declare bankruptcy every time they enter the emergency room.
Finally, I am also concerned about the rising costs of prescription drugs and a Medicare benefit that does nothing for most Americans. As you know, I rely on prescription drugs to control some of the effects of Parkinson’s disease that I take daily. I’m fortunate to have good health insurance that picks up much of the cost. However, many Americans do not have a prescription-drug benefit, especially the retired. For many years, I have supported a prescription-drug benefit to Medicare. Instead what we got was a plan written by the drug companies, and I opposed this plan and am determined to see it re-written.
The legislation the president signed into law was disappointingly short of its expectation. It was so bad that Republicans illegally bribed one congressman to support it. This legislation prevents the same drugs made in America from being re-imported from Canada, thereby saving the government and consumers billions of dollars. And it prevents the government from negotiating with drug makers for lower prices. As the senior Democrat on the Veterans Affairs Committee, I made sure that the VA, which is the largest health-care provider in the U.S., could negotiate drug costs, and it’s been very successful in saving money. But this bill, written by the drug companies, explicitly prohibits negotiations.
My opponent has said she would support this bill. As your representative I voted against it and will continue to support efforts to strip out bans on re-importation and negotiation while improving benefits for all seniors. I believe in responding to the interests of my constituents, not the drug companies.
State Representative, 71st District
Mike Boland, Democrat
My record in securing state dollars has focused on providing for public safety, and promoting economic and educational opportunities for my constituents. I’ve brought home funding for projects including $300,000 for streets in East Moline, $100,000 each to Moline and Silvis libraries, and $100,000 for Orion schools. I also helped fund the Henry County Emergency Center, provided $50,000 in Erie toward a fire station, helped Albany and Hampton purchase fire trucks, and brought lifesaving equipment to Port Byron and Thomson.
During a time when communities offer incentives to get a prison, I am proud of my accomplishments in Thomson. I battled to assure Thomson benefited from prison construction with infrastructure including water and sewer works, water tower, new roads, and York Township Library expansion. During prison construction, Thomson received more tax dollars per person than anywhere in Illinois.
I bring that same determination to opening Thomson prison, whether through sale to the federal government, or through leasing the facility to another correctional system. I’ve also proposed a new revenue source, the addition of Club Keno lottery games, to generate enough revenue to open the prison.
The Quad Cities is the largest metropolitan area in the U.S. without a full-scale graduate university. I pledge not to rest until our children get the educational opportunities they deserve. I recently secured funds for planning and development at Moline’s new WIU riverfront campus. With the help of Lieutenant Governor Quinn, who’s joined in promoting this project, I’ll push next for $10.5 million for construction. This project will greatly expand educational opportunities for people of all ages, and bring over 500 construction and 500 permanent jobs to our community.
I will continue to be a strong voice for education from nursery school to graduate school. As a retired teacher, I know our educational system firsthand, and can work as an effective advocate for children and schools. For my work in education, I’ve received awards from the Illinois Retired Teacher’s Association, and the Illinois Federation of Teachers endorsed my candidacy.
As a founder o Citizen’s Utility Board and as a leading consumer advocate in the legislature, I fought against telephone rate hikes, and to assure that electric deregulation included rate reductions for consumers. For that work, I received the Friend of Consumer award from the Coalition for Competitive Telecommunications.
As former vice chairman of the Veteran’s Committee, I’ve fought for those brave citizens who protected our freedoms. I sponsored the first law signed by Governor Blagojevich – the Military Families Relief Act – providing financial assistance for families of Reservists and Guardsmen currently fighting terror. To honor their service, I passed legislation providing a discount on veteran’s license plates for low-income senior veterans.
I also fought for those who protect and serve our communities, passing the Volunteer Firefighter Job Security Act. Because of my work on their behalf, I was named the firefighters’ Legislator of the Year during my third term. Most recently, I was awarded the firefighters’ highest award, the Golden Helmet Award.
I passed a soy-ink printing law encouraging the use of ink made from soybeans. This legislation opens new markets for farmers, lessens our dependence on foreign oil, and is environmentally friendly. The Illinois Farm Bureau has recognized my strong support of agriculture by giving me its Friend of Agriculture award every term I’ve served.
As chairman of the Election & Campaign Reform Committee, I’ve helped modernize our election process, mandating technology that assures ballot integrity. I passed legislation combining city, township, school, and community-college board elections, saving millions of dollars statewide every election. I also passed legislation allowing high-school seniors to serve as election judges, encouraging their involvement in elections.
As a champion for working men and women, I passed legislation that prohibits the use of tax dollars for the purchase of goods made by political and religious prisoners in dictatorships like China. My efforts on behalf of working men and women have been recognized by many labor endorsements, including the AFL-CIO, IBEW, AFSCME, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, and the Illinois Nurses Association. I was also named Friend of the Taxpayer as one of the most fiscally responsible General Assembly members.
Illinois faces some very exciting challenges and opportunities as we move further into the 21st Century. I humbly ask for each voter’s support to continue fighting for them. I will continue to fight for jobs and educational opportunities, for senior citizens and the disabled, for consumers and veterans and all taxpayers – to fight for you! That’s what I pledged when I first ran for office – and that’s what I pledge today.
State Representative, 72nd District
Jeff Choudhry, Republican
Gambling expansion: My opponent is a proponent of state-owned video poker in bars, and expanded casino gambling in the state of Illinois as a way to generate more revenue. I am against both. We should be financing our state on our strengths, not our weaknesses.
Competitive business climate: My opponent has worked to maintain the current level of taxation in Illinois. I will work to lessen the tax burden on Illinois families and small businesses. I believe that when taxes are lowered, a dynamic economy is encouraged.
Medicaid laws: I have proposed a comprehensive initiative designed to increase the standard of living for those who live with physical and mental disabilities in our state through the Medicaid system. It involves (1) fully complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act by not unnecessarily segregating those with disabilities in institutions; (2) removing barriers to maximum employment of persons with disabilities; and (3) converting to the managed-care model of Medicaid and increasing the use of the Medicaid waiver to provide flexibility. While enhancing the standard of living for those affected, my comprehensive plan will achieve greater efficiency in the use of taxpayer’s dollars.
I am unaware of a plan offered by my opponent on this important state funding issue.
Education funding: I support equal funding for schools in Illinois. Under the current education system funded primarily by property taxes, schools in more prosperous areas in and around Chicago receive superior funding levels than do most downstate schools. My opponent voted against House Bill 750, which would have achieved more equal funding for our schools, without offering a different solution.
Age and background: My opponent is not a product of a public secondary education, did not attend college, has a union and banking background and is 60 years old. I am a product of public schools, possess a degree in finance, I’ve worked in the U.S. Congress, and I am 23 years old.
Judge of the Appellate Court, Third District
Mary K. O’Brien, Democrat
Under the Judicial Canon of Ethics and Supreme Court Rules of Illinois, judges are prohibited from taking positions on issues in election campaigns. This limits the issues that would normally be discussed in a campaign because they may come before the court in a future case, and the judiciary must be fair and unbiased when deciding cases.
However, it is important to inform voters about our backgrounds so that they are able to make an informed choice when they cast their votes on November 2. My background practicing law and my experience in the General Assembly prepare me for the obligations of appellate court judge more than the background of my opponent.
As a sitting judge, I believe that I have the experience as a member of the appellate court that my opponent does not possess. As an attorney, I have a broad range of legal experience that makes me the best-qualified candidate. I have extensive experience in family law, criminal prosecution and defense, and township, municipal and real-estate law. I am the only certified child advocate in this race and the only member of the appellate court to hold this distinction. The majority of the cases before the Third District Appellate Court are criminal-law cases followed by family-law related matters. I have the experience necessary to review and fully understand the trial-court decisions in these types of matters.
My opponent’s legal career consists almost entirely of serving as counsel to State Farm Insurance Company. Nowhere in his résumé does he indicate that he has ever prosecuted or defended a criminal case. Nor does his résumé indicate that he has ever represented anyone in family court.
As a former legislator I understand, on a firsthand basis, how laws are made and the process for determining legislative intent. Understanding legislative intent is critical in interpreting ambiguous statutes and in determining whether the trial court accurately applied the law in the cases pending at the appellate court.
My opponent has no experience in determining legislative intent or in the review of trial-court decisions.
My experiences as an attorney and former legislator have also taught me to be an excellent negotiator and consensus-builder. As the former chair of the Judiciary II Committee on Criminal Law, I presided over the complicated and controversial task of reforming the Illinois death-penalty system. Through my leadership, the Illinois House of Representatives successfully negotiated a comprehensive reform package that became law in 2003. This was only possible by bringing all the various parties together, including law enforcement, victims’ families, and reform activists, and giving each an opportunity to present their views in a respectful manner that allowed for compromise and consensus to be reached. These skills are invaluable to me as a judge because the decisions rendered by the appellate court are reached by a consensus of the three-member panel of judges hearing each case.
Finally, the most important quality a judge possesses is her sense of fairness and impartiality. I have always worked hard to be a fair and open-minded attorney, legislator, and judge. My reputation for fairness has earned me the endorsements of groups of citizens from all walks of life, including the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, Associated Firefighters of Illinois, The Metropolitan Alliance of Police, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the AFL-CIO, The Illinois Valley Building Trades, and the Will-Grundy Building Trades.
Jim Wright, Republican
In Illinois, judicial candidates are prohibited from taking positions on issues that might come before the court. As a result, the Illinois State Bar Association has created a tool that allows voters to gather important information about the qualifications of the judicial candidates. That tool is the Illinois State Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Survey. The Judicial Evaluation Survey asks the candidates’ peers – the judges and attorneys of the judicial district – questions about the candidates’ credentials and legal competencies for the office. In order to receive a “recommended” rating in the survey, the candidate must receive at least a 65-percent approval rating on the question of whether the candidate meets the minimum requirements of the office.
In the survey conducted for the Third District Appellate Court race, I am the only candidate that received a “recommended” rating. My opponent received a “not recommended” rating. In fact, on each question in the survey, I outscored my opponent, and I received a 100-percent rating on the question of “integrity.”
The survey numbers are supported by my over 14 years of full-time legal practice throughout courtrooms in the State of Illinois. My opponent has only four years’ full-time legal practice.
Finally, in addition to my legal experience, I served nearly five years as a Rock Island police officer, received my master’s and bachelor’s degrees in Law Enforcement Administration, and have served as a Peoria Fire & Police commissioner for the past 10 years, five of those years as chairman.
Given my years of legal experience, the “recommended” rating from my peers, and my experience as a Rock Island Police Officer, I believe I am uniquely qualified to serve on Illinois’ Third District Appellate Court.
Rock Island County Board, 13th District
Maria Bodenbender, Republican
Taxes and budgets, together, are the most important issues facing our R.I. County Board and other levels of government, families and businesses in our country. Money is in short supply within our county and our governmental bodies do not live within their budgets. As a potential member of the R.I. County Board, l think that these issues have been ignored by our local government and must be a priority in order to protect the future of Rock Island County.
The last few years have found me at Moline City Hall fighting to defeat increases in food licenses and sales taxes. I have also spoken out and have been active in my disapproval of plans to allow Walgreen’s to move across 7th Street and the plan to widen 7th Street from 19th Avenue to 31st Avenue, both decisions which have used citizen’s tax dollars to negatively impact their quality of neighborhood life.
My opponent, Mr. Perez, is a member of and is supported by the Democratic Party, which has been in control of our county for many years and is responsible for our county’s spending. If I am elected to the R. I. County Board I plan to continue to fight tax increases, unnecessary budget increases and represent the concerns of my constituents.
Edwin B. Fruit, Socialist Workers Party
Along with my running mates, Roger Calero for president and Arrin Hawkins for vice president, we are presenting a working-class alternative in the upcoming elections.
Our program starts with the realities of the world working class and farmers. Over 2 billion people have no access to energy, and we call for the rights of nations to provide electrification, including the right to use nuclear power to achieve these ends.
We also recognize the need of workers in the U.S. to establish unions in their workplaces and for the strengthening of unions where they do exist. This is the only way that workers can defend their wages, working conditions, and social benefits, as all of this is under attack daily in the plants, mills, and factories in the U.S.
I am an active member of the United Food & Commercial Workers Union at the Tyson Food plant in Perry, Iowa. Like other members of my union, I helped build and attend the Immigration Workers Freedom Ride demonstration in 2003, which was part of a nationwide effort to highlight the contributions of immigrant workers in this country, to defend their right to work and live here in the United States. Our campaign points to the example of the mostly immigrant co-op miners in Huntington, Utah, who for over a year have waged a battle to get the United Mine Workers of America to represent them.
Our campaign also calls for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Bosnia, Haiti, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It is not in the interest of U.S. or workers abroad to support the attempt of the ruling rich to continue their domination of the people and resources of the rest of the world. I have helped build and attend demonstrations in Iowa and Washington, D.C., calling for an end to U.S. military intervention abroad. We also call for a massive public-works program to rebuild the schools, hospitals, roads, and other infrastructure we all need at union wages.
In addition, we call for the defense and extension of affirmative action programs in housing, education, and employment.
We also defend the right of women to choose abortion, including those in the U.S. military to use government medical facilities if they so choose this option. Like other Iowans, I attended the April 25 march of close to a million people in Washington, D.C., calling for a woman’s right to choose.
We also call for an immediate end to farm foreclosures. We think farmers should get a fair price for their products, and that the government should provide cheap credit for equipment and fertilizer.
We say the workers and farmers make the country run; the workers and farmers should run the country.
Chuck Grassley, Republican
Iowans expect public servants to uphold the public trust. For the last 24 years, I’ve worked hard to earn that trust. This year, I’m asking you to put your trust in me for another term in the United States Senate.
My home is in Butler County. Today I’m the only working family farmer in the United States Senate. My wife Barbara and I raised five children. We know what it’s like to stick to a family budget and hold down three jobs at the same time. Like many Iowans, I understand that every dollar from your paycheck counts.
As your senator, I work to make it easier for families to make ends meet, for senior citizens to afford their medicine, for small businesses to create jobs, for farmers to operate in a marketplace that’s more and more concentrated, for workers to save for retirement, and for students to pay for college.
Thanks to the support of Iowans, I’ve earned seniority in the Senate, seniority for Iowa. I’m chairman of the Finance Committee, where the quality-of-life issues are handled, like taxes, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and job-creating international trade. As chairman I’ve steered through Congress three landmark tax cuts. Alan Greenspan said the tax relief helped fuel our economic recovery. The legislation means that Iowans keep more of their hard-earned money.
Affordable energy is also key to economic growth. I’ve led an effort to improve U.S. energy independence. Iowa resources like ethanol, soy diesel, biomass, and wind energy can strengthen our energy security. They mean good-paying jobs for middle America.
Last year I helped steer through Congress a new Medicare law. For the first time seniors will be able to choose a Medicare prescription-drug benefit if they want. I made sure the new law gives Iowa hospitals and health-care providers fair treatment. I’ve also been pushing to make it legal to re-import prescription drugs from Canada.
Seventeen years ago I sponsored whistleblower amendments. Today, those provisions have recovered more than $12 billion for the taxpayers that would otherwise be lost to fraud. I work to hold government accountable and fix problems, including shutting down abusive tax shelters, looking out for those living in nursing homes, protecting pensions, and fighting for compensation owed to Cold War workers in southeast Iowa.
When I was elected to the Senate, I pledged to meet with Iowans in every county every year, and I’ve met that commitment every year – keeping in touch with Iowans. Representing our state is a privilege I take very seriously, and I’d like to continue putting seniority to work for Iowans in the U.S. Senate.
Daryl A. Northrop, Iowa Green Party
In the election of 2004, we are faced with a choice for our U.S. Senate representation: one of two candidates from parties that are flooded with special-interest funds and entrenched elites, or myself, a candidate who accepts no special-interest contributions, from the Green Party – a party that does not accept any special-interest contributions. There are significant differences between Senator Charles Grassley, Democratic party member Art Small, and myself.
Health care: As a Green Party member, I believe health care is a fundamental right. Our nation suffers under the most expensive failure of health-care system in the world. Currently at least 45 million Americans have no health insurance – that includes 250,000 here in Iowa. Those who do have health insurance are burdened with skyrocketing premiums, increasing co-pays, and health-care limitations imposed on their doctors by profit-hungry HMOs and insurance companies. Senator Grassley supports this system, and has continued the fleecing of the public by helping passing a prescription-drug benefit for seniors (http://www.vote-smart.org/issue_keyvote_detail.php?vote_id=3276&can_id=S0291103) that was so twisted and influenced by special interests that is bars the federal government from negotiating discounts with drug companies. What this boils down to is that U.S. taxpayer is now forced, by law, to pay the highest going rate for prescriptions drugs under this program. This is nothing more that a massive handout to corporate pharmaceutical interests. These companies have donated generously to the Grassley campaign (http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/indus.asp?CID=N00001758&cycle=2004). Democratic challenger Art Small claims to support a single-payer health-insurance plan, but his party does not (http://www.democrats.org/health care/contrast.html). In fact, HMOs, insurance companies, and health groups donate millions of dollars each year to the Democrats (http://www.opensecrets.org/parties/sector.asp?Cmte=DPC&cycle=2004). This puts Small against his own party, and in a situation in which he will be under immense pressure from campaign contributors, senior Democratic Party leaders, and lobbyists not to pursue health care for all Americans.
As a Green Party candidate for Senate, I can rise to the challenge. My campaign and my party are fully committed to the health of all Americans. Americans deserve nothing less than a universal single-payer health-care system, a system that gives all Americans full access to preventative care and full treatment regardless of ability to pay or employment status. Not only is it good for our health, it is good for the economy. Canada (and most industrialized nations) enjoys a single-payer universal health plan and has lower infant-mortality rates, longer life spans, and a 40-percent lower per-capita health-care cost than America. Here in America, we would reap the same benefits. Health-care costs could be contained by bargaining for the lowest possible prices with drug companies, by implementing a full range of preventative treatments that minimize ailments before they run out of control, and by eliminating wasteful bureaucracy and profit margins out of the costs of health care. Under the Northrop plan for universal health care, everyone would pay into the system, everyone would have full access to the system, and everyone will benefit from the system.
War in Iraq: Our current occupation of Iraq and continued battles against a growing insurgency have left America in a position not known since the dark days of Vietnam. The Bush administration has given us a horrible choice: stay in Iraq, propping up the government and fighting a continuing insurgence, or leave and risk Iraq becoming a “failed state” along the lines of Afghanistan under the Taliban or Somalia under the warlords. The Bush administration’s rationale for war with Iraq was possession with intent to use and distribute WMDs to terrorists, threatening its neighbors, and direct links with al-Qaeda. All of these rationales were false in 2002 when the U.S. Congress passed its authorization to use force resolution. This act gave de facto war-declaring ability to the president, in direct contradiction to the U.S. Constitution. Senator Grassley voted for this reckless abdication of responsibility (http://www.vote-smart.org/issue_keyvote_detail.php?vote_id=3206&can_id=S0291103). Art Small claims to be in favor of a speedy withdrawal from Iraq, but with the overwhelming amount of Democrats who also voted for war, such as Senator Harkin (http://www.vote-smart.org/issue_keyvote_detail.php?vote_id=3206&can_id=S0301103), I question the Democratic Party’s claim for peace in Iraq and withdrawal of our troops. Small’s voice in the Senate might end up being drowned out by his own party.
As your Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate, I am committed to telling the truth: At best, the rationale for the war in Iraq was a massive intelligence blunder, and at worst it was a pre-planned action intended to put the world’s largest proven reserves of oil under U.S. control. Further, I am the only Senate candidate willing to question the assumption that our troops are bringing stability to Iraq. This flies the in the face of the simple concept: No one likes to be occupied. Especially when considering the incredibly negative image of America in the Arab Middle East, we must be prepared to accept the fact that the presence of our troops might actually be the catalyst that is exacerbating instability within Iraq. I support a full withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq within one year, internationalizing any peacekeeping troops that might be requested by the sovereign Iraqi government, and payment of war reparations to the people of Iraq by the U.S. for invasion and occupation of their country under false and fraudulent pretenses. Further, I would work to revoke the war authorization that was passed in 2002. This authorization gives the president the ability to declare war, and that ability should never rest in the hands of one person. It was a shameful shirking of responsibility by Democratic and Republican members of Congress.
Campaign finance: Our system for financing election campaigns is completely out of control. Lobbyists, special-interest groups, 529 groups, PACs, etc. are injecting huge amounts of money into political parties’ and candidates’ election coffers. Why? Access and agenda. These groups, often fronts for corporations, have very specific plans and use these donations to buy access to elected officials. They press an agenda that works to benefit them, not regular American citizens. Benefits such as tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy, weak environmental laws, weak labor laws, and perpetuation of the for-profit health-care system are bought by special-interest money, drowning out the voice of citizens in the election process. This flood of special-interest money goes up every year, and each year, participation by citizens in voting either stays constant or decreases (http://www.census.gov/prod/2004pubs/p20-552.pdf). From 1989 to 2004, Senator Grassley has accepted $9.9 million in PAC money. In 2004 alone, that comes to 36 percent of his campaign funds. That puts him as representing special interests 36 percent of the time, and representing Iowans 64 percent of the time. If you were in school, and only correctly answered 64 percent of the questions on your exam, your grade would be a D-. While Democrat Art Small might not accept PAC money, his party does. Further, his party has received massive contributions from corporate sources (http://www.opensecrets.org/parties/contrib.asp?Cmte=DPC&cycle=2004). While the Republicans and Democrats are bankrolled by the wealthy, who represents the rest of us?
My campaign and my party do not accept any special-interest money from any source, ever. I represent people only. In fact, you could say that I represent only one special-interest group: Iowans. I fully support a complete ban on PAC money and other sources of soft money. Elections should be publicly financed, with candidates having to gather a large number of small donations from individuals to qualify for federal funds. This is vital in order to remove, as much as possible, the legalized bribery of PAC and corporate campaign contributions. It is also vital that this be done so that the government can fulfill its mission of providing for the people, not providing for the corporations and the wealthy.
On November 2, do not waste your vote on a candidate from one of two corporate-controlled parties. Cast your vote for Daryl Northrop, Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate.
Christy Ann Welty, Libertarian
I want to legalize freedom, in every way possible, as long as nobody’s hurting anybody else. That alone sets me apart from all the other candidates in this race.
I also want to cut the cost of government and make it more effective for the people it serves.
The first and simplest way to do that is to avoid making government bigger, avoid creating new ways to spend, and avoid increasing budgets. The second task, a bit more complicated, is to reduce the size and scope of government, and reduce the regulatory burden on people.
I consistently vote this way as a city councilor, working to reduce government intrusion and legalize freedom. In this race, Libertarian is the only voice for smaller government. That means I believe that power belongs with people, not with government. I believe that your decisions are made best by you and your trusted advisors, not by any person on the ballot, including me. That’s why I want to get government out of your way, so you can get on your way to a life that’s easier, freer, happier – more fun!
U.S. Representative, First District
Bill Gluba, Democrat
This election is all about whose side you are on. Bill Gluba will stand on the side of Iowa families, unlike Jim Nussle, who has been more concerned with satisfying his special-interest and corporate-interest donors.
On jobs, Jim Nussle has taken over $100,000 in this election cycle from companies that are “exporting America,” according to Lou Dobbs. Bill Gluba believes we need to close corporate loopholes that encourage our companies to move jobs overseas and replace them with tax credits for companies to create jobs here at home. Bill believes we need to export American products, not outsource American jobs
On health care, Jim Nussle has taken over $600,000 since 1996 from pharmaceutical and health-insurance companies while our insurance premiums have increased by double digits for the last four years. Bill Gluba wants to ensure that all Americans have the same coverage as members of Congress, including coverage for mental illness. We can’t afford not to address this problem.
On seniors, Jim Nussle supported the new Medicare prescription-drug law that gave $139 billion to the pharmaceutical industry and will force our seniors into HMOs. Bill Gluba will stand up for Iowa seniors, not pharmaceutical companies, by allowing the federal government to use the buying power of over 41 million seniors to lower the price of prescriptions (a plan similar to what the VA does for 7 million veterans). He will fight for a real prescription-drug benefit for our seniors, rather than a sellout to the pharmaceutical industry. He will also allow for the safe re-importation of FDA-approved prescription drugs from countries like Canada, where they are 30 to 80 percent cheaper.
Bill Gluba has heard many politicians preach family values, but he values families. He has been married for 39 years, with five children and one grandchild. He believes the best way to value families is to make sure that our parents can find a good-paying job, that our families have health care, and that our seniors have the affordable prescription drugs they need. Bill Gluba believes it’s time we put our families first, not the special interests or the corporate interests, but Iowa families.
Mark Nelson, Libertarian
The differences in the positions between myself and the other candidates flow directly from our different levels of respect for our voters.
Where is the respect for our voters in a tax code that treats Americans like gerbils – do this and you get to keep your money, do that and you have to pay taxes, and, worse yet, do that and get arrested? With 40,000 pages of social engineering, the IRS code is an embarrassment to all Americans. We need to finance the federal government in a manner everyone can understand. That means a low, simple flat tax, eliminating the double taxation of dividends and other obstacles to savings, investment, and economic growth. It means eliminating all forms of corporate welfare, in exchange for eliminating the corporate income tax, while holding corporations responsible for the damages rather than shielding them behind government protections. Mr. Nussle is one of the pork-barrel kings, helping carve niches in the tax code for his version of social engineering or for favored industries. Mr. Gluba engages in class warfare, pitting the haves and have-nots, lacking a basic understanding of basic economics – tax an activity and it will slow down.
Where is the respect for our voters in an education system that forces parents to send their children to schools that don’t teach, might be dangerous, and are driven by social agendas that are often in conflict with the parents? We need school choice, through vouchers or tax-credit scholarship funds. We need to break up the public-school monopoly and put parents in charge of their children’s education. Under Mr. Nussle, the federal education bureaucracy has grown exponentially, while student performance has deteriorated, while Mr. Gluba is beholden to the teachers’ organizations that have fought school choice, arguing for throwing more tax money into the failed education system.
Where is the respect for our voters in a mandatory retirement scheme – Social Security – that forces you to pay 12.4% of your income into a system that really isn’t a system at all? Current payroll taxes go to pay current retirees and fund other federal-government programs. There is no “lockbox,” and worse, the Supreme Court ruled in 1960 that you have no claim at all to the money taken from your paycheck. Social Security is merely another piece in the social-engineering puzzle. We need to give Americans the choice of purchasing real assets with their payroll tax, and place them in personal accounts that they, not politicians, own and control. Both opponents are opposed to any reform of the Social Security system.
Where is the respect for our voters in the endless waging of war on its own citizens? From the 1960s’ “war on poverty,” to the current wars on drugs, tobacco, and fat, our government erodes the freedom and choices that are the bedrock of American society. We need to return to a society where personal responsibility for health and welfare is the responsibility of individuals and their local communities. If an individual wants to self-medicate with marijuana, eat high-fat food, and smoke cigars, it is none of the government’s business. Mr. Nussle has historically been noted as one of the most vehement warriors in the “war on drugs.”
Where is the respect for our voters in America being the policeman for the world? At the expense of American taxpayers, including the cost of too many giving up their lives, troops are stationed in more than 100 countries, at questionable benefit to the American people. The rightful, constitutional place for the United State military is to protect our borders, not police other nations. We must bring all our troops home. We can do more good to influence other nations through unfettered commerce than we can through military might.
Philosophically, the libertarian ideals of the Founding Fathers remain the foundation of our country’s greatness. When surveyed, Americans still overwhelming favor smaller government with fewer services and lower taxes. None of my opponents has promised to act on that. They are beholden to either the Government Can Fix All Problems Liberal Left or the Government Can Fix All Problems Conservative Right. I am the only candidate that believes the growth in our federal government beyond its constitutional limits has caused more damage than it has done good. I am the only candidate that truly respects the individual rights of the voters, as outlined by our Founding Fathers.
State Representative, 81st District
Alan Guard, Democrat
I can summarize the contrasting philosophy between me and my opponent around a single, fundamental issue. This issue is our differing viewpoint on the social contract between state government and the citizenry. This social contract has evolved between the people of Iowa and the state government over the last 150 years. This contract has always included: (1) We will properly fund education so we have the number-one system in the nation, including an excellent community-college and state-university system. It will be affordable and accessible. (2) We will take care of those least able to take of themselves – the children and the elderly. We will not erode child-protective services, our courts, and our health-care system in the name of tax cuts. (3) The focus of our governmental decisions will be as close to the people as possible. All politics is local.
I believe this election is about how he and I differ on this basic idea. My opponent is entitled to his views, and I admire him for being so passionate about them. I disagree with those views and I will fight for them just as passionately.
I believe we need to make the commitment to education. For example, the Teacher Quality Initiative was passed in 1999 and required $300 million of funding. My opponent voted for the initiative, but has never funded it more than $42 million. His real priority has been tax cuts. You can’t make promises that you do not intend to keep. That erodes the social contract.
I will ensure that we keep our courts open, that child protective services are adequately funded, and that there are enough nursing-home inspectors to keep our senior citizens safe. While my opponent voted to restore the funds he spent down from the Senior Living Trust Fund, he continues to promote tax cuts. You can’t put money back if you give it away in the form of tax cuts. His record indicates that his priority is to erode the social contract.
I believe that the government that is closest to the people makes the best decisions for the people. My opponent believes in a strong Soviet-style central government. This can be illustrated by my opponent’s plan for property taxes. He believes that state government should dictate one-size-fits-all local property tax policy from Des Moines. He believes this will make it easier for Des Moines to force consolidation on local government agencies including school districts, counties, and cities. This type of strong-armed approach is wrong and anathema to the conservative values of the people of Iowa. Iowans believe in local control.
The current property-tax system is broken. Property owners see increases every year; growing urban areas, like Davenport and Bettendorf, are penalized for new residential growth; and business growth is stagnant because commercial property pays a disproportionate share. A “patch” from Des Moines will only make things worse.
I have 17 years of experience of public finance, including 11 years in another state with a property-tax system that works. My recommendation for property-tax reform will be based on this model. It will stop automatic tax increases, allow new growth to pay for additional services, and stop the increasing share paid by businesses improving the economic climate. Most importantly, this system would force local governments to be accountable and responsive to their citizens. Iowans believe in local control.
These differences are clear and should provide the voters a real choice.
State Representative, 83rd District
Steve Olson, Republican
Olson sees employment opportunities and balancing the state budget as the most important issues facing the 83rd District and the state of Iowa. He was a member of the House subcommittee that authored the Iowa Values Fund. This legislation addresses new job growth, workforce development, job training in cooperation with Iowa’s community colleges, and quality-of-life issues, striving to bring economic growth to Iowa. The Values program, used in conjunction with other business incentives such as Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and enterprise zones, while coupled with some regulatory reform, will have his support during the next General Assembly of the Iowa House of Representatives.
Quality education is vital for Iowa students, as well as being essential for economic development.
Iowa needs skilled and trained workers to assure a bright future. Olson supported 4-percent allowable growth, amounting to $92 million for K-12 education. A total of $2.02 billion in state aid has been allocated for the 2004-5 fiscal year for K-12 education.
Funding many of these programs is extremely difficult, due to the fact that Iowa leads the nation in the percentage of aging population on fixed incomes. Property taxes share an unfair burden of the state’s financial needs, so tough decisions face the next session of the Iowa legislature.
Steve pledges to listen to the concerns of the constituents of Iowa House District 83 and urges those with questions to contact him personally.
State Representative, 84th District
Cammie Pohl, Democrat
The needs of the district are being neglected or reduced. Last year, my daughter’s fourth-grade class had 27 students in the classroom and one teacher. After attending the teachers’ forums, it was clear that my current representative wasn’t listening to the needs of education. Furthermore, programs that affect children were being cut. My opponent voted against emergency funding to prevent teacher layoffs and public-school programs: H-8469, HJ 1255, 4/12/04.
After knocking on over 8,000 doors, I can tell you that most of those people don’t know who their representative is or what he does for them. Restoring representation to my district is the number-one reason I’m running. I intend to work hard both here and in Des Moines. I have been to all the city councils’ meetings (Buffalo, Blue Grass, Walcott, Dixon, Long Grove, and Eldridge). Because I believe a representative should bring it to the local level. Once elected, I want to meet with city leaders to help with local issues as well as my constituents.
Education: The schools have been grossly underfunded, and the $100 million that was found late in the session wasn’t enough. Keep in mind that $100 million looks like a lot of money but in a total education budget in excess of $2 billion, it’s a mere drop in the bucket. This doesn’t even address the many flaws in No Child Left Behind. NCLB is a good concept to which everyone will agree but without fully funding it, many schools are set up to fail. Classrooms with regular students combined with ones with learning disabilities are required by NCLB that all tested be able to test at the same level. When this doesn’t happen, NCLB calls for funding to be cut to these schools. Remember what I said about my daughter’s fourth-grade class? That is the grade level they test for NCLB. While K-3 grades have smaller class size, the fourth grade is larger and is being tested for the school’s overall performance. Where is the logic in that? In the February 4, 2004, North Scott Press, Jim Van Fossen’s own opinion shows he doesn’t understand our school system.
Taxes: My opponent wants to continue tax cuts to the wealthiest in Iowa no matter the shortfall it leaves in our state budget. He supported HF701 and HJ1789, 5/1/2003, which would have cut $685 million out of the state budget. Then at the last minute denied the counties and cities their monies after they had certified their budgets. This caused local city governments to re-address their budgets. These lost funds also forced police and firefighter layoffs, fees for basic services, and increased property taxes. I would have gone for keeping the taxes at the same level – tax stability rather than chopping state funding to our communities.
Property-tax credits: I have worked in the real-estate field and understand that we have incentives for people buying their first home or for ag land. We all benefit from these property-tax credits. My opponent failed to fully fund property-tax credits (H-8414B to SF 2298, 4/12/04, HJ 1296). Therefore, first-time home-buyers and farmers pay higher property taxes.
Human services: I am disappointed that foster care and group homes for children weren’t funded to the level promised three years ago. Why do the children have to be the victims of CYB , the “Cover Your Butt” legislation? Cutting programs that would help abused children is bad for all Iowans. When you have a man being arrested for sexually abusing foster children in LeClaire, this is a system that needs to be funded properly! My opponent didn’t respond to the Child Abuse Council survey! Is he even aware of how many cases of homeless or abused children we have in this district?
When I went to the Capitol in March, I witnessed firsthand how my state representative sat idle and voted party lines. I am different from him because I am Democrat, yes, but I believe in defending my constituents and have no intention of making laws to take away our freedoms. I was in the United States Army Reserves and proudly served my country. I will be proud to serve District 84! When elected, I want the residents of this district to be proud to have someone who understand and listens to their needs: education, jobs, health care, and protecting property-tax-payers!
Jim Van Fossen, Republican
As a captain on the Davenport Police Department for almost 35 years, I was called on at times to make life-and-death decisions in seconds. As a state representative, decisions are made that affect people’s lives from cradle to grave. I take this responsibility very seriously. As a police officer, I was required to mediate disputes between people. I learned to listen to both sides and take action. I know what it’s like to work two jobs in order to make ends meet. Prior to being a police officer, I worked at Farmall. I took a large cut in pay but wanted to serve. I remember when collective bargaining was called collective begging. All of these experiences have assisted me in representing the 84th District.
We started the 2004 session with the governor’s proposed $388-million tax increase (the biggest in Iowa’s history). My first concern is the people’s checkbook, and thankfully this increase was defeated. Also, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that the State of Iowa owed land-based casinos $168 million for taxing them at a different rate than riverboat casinos. We were able to negotiate with both parties, and the outcome did not cost the taxpayers even one dollar.
I voted to raise the education budget by $109 million. Next year the state of Iowa will be spending approximately $4,900 per student. Some say this is not enough. It is difficult to come to an agreement on what adequate funding is. In the end, the taxpayers must pay Iowa’s bills; we must balance the burden of the costs of worthy goals with the burden of taxation. Sixty percent of the state budget goes to education. I know we can provide quality education because we have excellent teachers to provide this. Instead of taxing the people, I want to bring more business into our state to raise the tax base and provide jobs. We need to make Iowa’s business climate as inviting as (or more inviting than) surrounding states’.
The North Scott Press interviewed my opponent, Cammie Pohl. As reported by Brian Rathjen on October 20, 2004, “Pohl said her goal is to reinstate budgets to the cities and counties ‘so that we will not lose any employees.’ One suggestion she offered lies in tax stability – that is, no tax increases or tax cuts.”
I’m sorry, but I don’t get that. It’s naïve to think that all would be solved if we didn’t raise taxes or cut taxes. Every year agencies in state government request an increase. If we could have given the cities what they wanted and balanced the budget without raising taxes, we would have done so. However, we did what family budgets and business do when things get tough – we tighten our belts. Cammie Pohl also wants more money for education. How would Mrs. Pohl pay for this if more money were needed than the year before without raising taxes?
I feel tax decreases can keep people and businesses in Iowa and draw more business and people. This in turn will raise our tax base without raising taxes for families. I know of retirees who have moved to Illinois, and other states, because pensions are not taxed. They can move across the river and have their pensions tax-free, but we lose their property taxes, vehicle taxes, and a lot of their tax on purchases. I would rather bring more people and businesses to our state by tax decreases than pushing people and businesses away by raising taxes.
State Representative, 85th District
Jim Lykam, Democrat
Why should you vote for me? For one, I have the knowledge that only comes with experience. Experience in the legislature and experience in the business world. I understand you cannot spend more money than you bring in. That is why I have always supported a balanced state budget. It is also why I opposed the decision made by Republicans in the Iowa House to renege on our commitment to local governments.
In Davenport, that led to a round of fee hikes, service cuts, and, ultimately, a $6-per-month fee for home garbage collection. The Republicans were wrong to balance the state budget on the backs of property-tax-payers and I believe we need a Democrat like me to fight them, not another Republican rubber-stamping their leadership.
In campaigning door-to-door and talking to the voters, I believe we share the same priorities. The first one is education. It is not just election rhetoric to me. I supported an amendment this year that would have provided Davenport and North Scott schools with $1.7 million more. This is money that districts and parents asked for, but the majority party refused to support. We must also continue the successful reading-improvement and class-size-reduction program. This program was renewed for just this current year, but it is important to continue this initiative, which is improving reading scores and helping students get the one-on-one help they need.
Another concern is job creation. My son Jeff is 24. His mother and I hope that he will stay in Davenport. But we are aware that many of his friends are leaving for good-paying jobs elsewhere. This is why I supported the Iowa Values Fund, because I believe it will help young people find jobs in Iowa. It helped create or retain more than 11,000 jobs with an average salary of almost $40,000. I was terribly disappointed when the majority party decided to end the values fund.
Finally, I think we need to talk about tax policy. As I noted earlier I am opposed to balancing the state budget by shifting responsibilities on to the backs of the local property-tax-payers. We must overhaul the property-tax system.
You may be wondering how Iowa can afford all that I have mentioned. For one, the economy is improving and revenues are increasing. In addition we will have new gambling venues in the state and they will produce additional revenue to be used on our priorities.
It has been an honor to represent the citizens of House District 85, and if you send me back to Des Moines, I promise to continue to be your “watchdog”, working on and fighting for our priorities.
State Representative, 86th District
Cindy Winckler, Democrat
I do not presume to speak for my opponent. I want people to vote for me because they think I am the best person for the job; that I have given thoughtful consideration to the issues; that I care about the well-being of the people in Iowa; and that I focus on making Davenport a better place to live, work, play, and learn.
I have seen Davenport evolve into a large city – and in some ways lose the best of small-town living. As a state representative, my goal is to continue to impact decisions to return Davenport to a caring community that supports its workers and small-business owners; creates an improved system of support for children and their families; offers the best education in the Midwest; and keeps our elderly population healthy and safe.
My greatest sense of accomplishment was the Abandoned Housing Bill, passed this last session. This bill creates the opportunity to bring new life into aging neighborhoods. It was written from the suggestions of the city’s Abandoned Housing Task Force – co-sponsored by Representative Joe Hutter, with a companion bill sponsored by Senator Maggie Tinsman.
As I work with and for the people in my district, I think about the people struggling to access health care or purchase their prescription drugs. I think about parents working more than one job to support their family, and I think about the necessity for safe schools and quality teachers for our children.
I’m disappointed that the legislature solved their budget problems by under-funding property-tax credits; or increasing co-payments for Medicaid recipients; or shifting property taxes from one class of taxpayer to another; or identifying false solutions for the rising cost of insurance; or under-funding higher education that resulted in 24- to 73-percent tuition and fee increases for our regent universities and community colleges.
The biggest challenge in this next legislative session will be to stabilize the revenue streams for the state and re-align funding to match the demands that we place on government. Our young people need the assurance that jobs in Iowa will pay enough to support the cost of living. Our small businesses need support in business development and assistance in meeting the rising costs of doing business. Our elderly citizens need solutions for the high cost of prescription drugs. Our families need the security of a functional health-care system, and our citizens deserve a fair and equitable tax system. By resorting to stopgap responses to the unpredictable economy, our revenue and spending plans in this state are out of alignment.
Since 2000, much has changed with the economy and the world around us. I have taken this leadership role seriously and worked to reflect your wishes and concerns in Des Moines. Our economy is slowly improving, our revenues are increasing, and it will take that experienced leadership at the state level to continue this positive direction.
Scott County Supervisor (Vote for no more than two.)
Jim Hancock, Democrat
The three most important issues facing the County are: the jail issue, GIS (Geographical Information Systems), and the re-design of the mental-health system.
One of the main reasons the jail is such a big issue for the taxpayers in Scott County is because we are being assessed $1 million this year alone. This is because the jail is full and prisoners have to be shipped to other facilities in Iowa and Illinois. Within the next four years, we will be paying more for space elsewhere than we would be able to retire the debt for a new jail.
GIS is a 20th Century technology that will enable the public to access information in a more efficient manner. In today’s world it is necessary to stay up with technology.
Re-designing the mental health system is a state issue. It could take as long as four years to complete the process. The reason it is so important to Scott County is that it could impact our budget adversely in a dramatic way. This issue must be constantly monitored and collaborated with our local partners, i.e. Vera French, Handicapped Development, and state legislators.
You have asked me to compare my views against my opponents, however I do not know the full extent of their views on these issues.
Karl Rhomberg, Democrat
I can’t compare myself to other supervisor candidates. I am unique. We may all be white men, but I think any comparison ends there. At 55, I am the youngest. I don’t own a farm. I’m not retired. I’m not an incumbent.
County government is a sleepy kind of place. Ask anyone around and they’ll tell you they don’t know much about it, don’t really know what it does or how it works. Think that’s an accident? Or coincidence? Hmmmm. Bet not.
County government is off the radar because that’s where county government wants to be – off the radar. In conversation with the Quad-City Times editorial board last week, I was asked if I objected to county employees talking to the press. (Answer: No.)
I asked what the basis for the question was, and the news people seemed to believe that there is in fact a general prohibition against it. Mind you, nothing written down, they recounted. But when they ask questions, people refuse to answer them. I believe that should be changed.
I am the only candidate in favor of televising supervisor meetings on cable TV. I spent the last 20 months working with the Davenport city council to achieve unanimous approval of a new ordinance creating a Cable Commission to monitor Mediacom’s cable franchise and promote citizen-access TV. Put it on the tube; it’s 2004, already.
I am the only candidate insisting that if the jail bond passes and we borrow $29 million, we must hire local labor, local contractors, and local suppliers. We will pay out over $54 million on those bonds. We ought to be smart enough to require the supervisors to spend our money here at home where it can do us some good.
I am the only candidate on record in favor of actually funding the county Uniform GIS (Geographic Info System) technology needed to get the courthouse into the 21st Century. There’s plenty of agreement about how great it would be to have all the data at the courthouse – land parcels, deeds, transfers, contracts, inspections, topography, genealogy information, etc. – available on line, but you’ve got to invest in the product.
I’m the only candidate to propose cutting taxes by lowering overhead expenses. Here’s one example: The county buys a lot of expensive prescription drugs. Not just for its own employees, but also for many clients at Vera French and Pine Knoll Home, as well as for detainees at the jail. I have proposed developing some kind of large buying group – through the Iowa Association of Counties – and including cities as well, to purchase maintenance prescription drugs in bulk direct shipments and saving taxpayers money.
I am the only candidate promoting county participation in the River Vision Plan. As a Davenport Levee Commissioner for the past four years, I have been involved from the beginning with the development of the plan, long before a hotel entered the picture. I believe in the whole River Vision Plan and want to encourage cooperation between the city, county, state, and federal governments to realize its potential.
I am the only candidate promoting the Ag Tech Development Center about to be completed one block from the courthouse. I believe this is the most far-reaching element of River Renaissance, because this is where the new jobs will be. Ag-tech, bio-energy products made from renewable resources grown in Iowa are in the same stage today the microchip was 30 years ago in 1974. Once, we were world leaders in agricultural manufacturing. We can be world leaders in agricultural tech if we use our brains now.
I am the only candidate publicly supporting increased recreation activities in Scott County. I want a new water park at Scott County Park. I want the bike path between Eldridge and Long Grove completed. I want more nature trails and bridle and ATV trails here. This is a fun place to live if we treat ourselves right.
I am the only candidate to recommend county assistance to the smaller communities that are struggling with aged sewer and water infrastructures. I want the county to visit the small towns and help the mayors and councils obtain EPA and USDA grants to improve these vital services.
I am the only candidate to publicly announce that I am in favor of keeping Scott County free of industrial hog lots run by vertically integrated mega-corporations.
I am the only candidate … . Well, you probably get the idea by now. I could go on and on because there is so much potential waiting, wanting to be developed. I have enthusiasm, intellect, education, and experience. I represented citizens for 10 years as an elected councilman. I care about people. I know how government works and how to make government work for people. You can vote for two county supervisors. Please cast one vote for me.
Scott County Auditor
Karen Fitzsimmons, Democrat
Comparing and contrasting myself to someone whose views have never been made known to me is a little difficult. I do know that my opponent favors term limits for elected county offices. As a 28-year incumbent, I naturally, and wholeheartedly, disagree with him on this issue. To assume that our elected officials become complacent and stale as they age in a job is both presumptive and insulting. Allow me to give just a few examples.
My office continues to be a statewide leader in almost every area of my statutory responsibilities. Our voter registration and election department is second-to-none, and we proudly continue to administer error-free, controversy-free elections. Our choice of a computerized voter system was the result of many years of research; consequently, unlike many other entities that have changed systems more than once, we have an excellent system that we hope to use for many years. We service more than 100,000 active registered voters, so the system has to work, and it does.
Thanks to my office, the county’s entire tax system is available to anyone with access to a computer. I believe very strongly in full public access to virtually anything that is a public record. The more information available to the public without them having to make a trip down to our office, the better. My office is a leader in the state in these efforts and, with my guidance, will continue to be a leader.
As with any government, Scott County has had to do more with less. When I started 28 years ago, my office employed 25 people. Today we’re at slightly over half that amount. This is no accident. Through computerization, streamlining, and excellent employees (average tenure: almost 20 years in my office), I have been able to provide excellent service at great savings to the taxpayers.
My office has played a major role in winning the much-coveted highest award in financial reporting as given by the Government Finance Officers association. Scott County is one of only five Iowa counties to win the award, and we have won it for 17 years in a row!
Scott County Sheriff
Dennis Conard, Republican
An attempt to compare or contrast my views to my opponent’s is rather difficult, as he proposes ideas that the sheriff’s office is already doing. Prisoners work every day in and out of the jail facility, there are currently full-time deputies assigned to both drug and gang issues, and we are working together with other law-enforcement and community agencies to ensure a strong and safe county.
There has been much talk about putting prisoners back to work. We currently have approximately 30 inmates helping to run the facilities each day. They work prepping and serving meals, doing the laundry, and performing various maintenance projects. The Citizens Jail Alternatives Advisory Committee (CJAAC) recognized that work has therapeutic benefits and recommended that a correctional officer supervise inmates in “community restoration teams.” These teams are in place and are performing projects ranging from building picnic benches and playground equipment to cleaning up area waterways and clearing brush in a local river community. We hope to expand these programs as more sentenced inmates, currently housed in other institutions due to our overcrowding, return. Under Iowa law, however, only sentenced inmates can be forced to work. With about 80 percent of our inmates currently in jail being in an un-sentenced status, this greatly reduces the number of inmates who are available for work. Additionally, our more violent inmates cannot be considered for work.
Vast changes have occurred in jail operations over the last three years. As CJAAC began to study the overcrowding issue, it became apparent that inmate programming to reduce recidivism would be a major component to the solution. Seeing the need for professional management in and out of the jail, I proposed the elimination of a chief-deputy rank to be replaced by a professional jail administrator with a strong background in inmate programming. While all of the programs have not been implemented to the fullest, some of our successes include current inmates having the opportunity to have job-skills training, pre-GED and GED classes, life-skills training, substance-abuse training, and, most recently, batterer’s education. Many of these programs are offered through partnerships with other service organizations at little or no cost to the taxpayer, and can be expanded with the passing of the jail referendum.
My opponent has promised to increase his presence in the county and focus on gang and meth problems. The crime rate in rural Scott County continues to be low, and I believe this is due to existing aggressive patrols in rural areas, as well as the strong partnerships we have built with the other law-enforcement agencies in the various communities. The sheriff’s office currently has two deputies assigned to the Quad Cities Metropolitan Enforcement Group working on drug-related issues in the Quad Cities area; one deputy assigned to the Federal Gang Task Force working on gang-related issues; and one deputy assigned to the Eastern Iowa Methamphetimine Lab Task Force working on meth-lab investigations in an 18-county area. Deputies also provide free training on these issues and others to area groups and businesses that request it. I have also committed the Scott County Sheriff’s Office to be the fiscal agent for $850,000 in funding for eastern Iowa. The initial proposal for use of these funds in our area calls for the hiring of four Homeland Security Specialists who will work directly with the local Joint Terrorism Task Force already in place.
During my next term as sheriff, I see the main issues for the sheriff’s office to be the jail project as well as our commitment to the close working relationships with other law-enforcement and service agencies. I firmly believe that when we work together toward our common goals there will be greater successes and accomplishments, reinforcing Scott County’s appeal as a place we can feel safe and are proud to call home.
Phillip Yerington, Democrat
New vs. old jail: I am encouraging all Scott County voters to review and familiarize themselves with the work of the citizens’ jail committee that has studied the issue of a new jail for five years, and then decide whether they think a new jail is necessary. I am not recommending a position to voters, but I will vote for a new jail because I have had the opportunity to see the deteriorated condition of the current jail and how expensive it is to maintain. However, I have told voters that I will professionally manage either a new or old jail by re-establishing communications with the jail staff, seeking their suggestions and input on jail operations, and seek ways to decrease the number of inmates by expanding the electronic monitoring of prisoners. Currently, drunk drivers are monitored out of the jail by electronic means, and I would support the addition of misdemeanor, nonviolent, property-crime offenders such as shoplifting, thefts, vandalism, etc. Opponent’s stance: Supports new jail and has a negative relationship with the majority of current jail workers. The Teamsters Union, which represents the jail workers, has endorsed me in this election.
Prisoners back to work: I will make inmates who have been sentenced to jail time get out of the jail and work to clean up the community’s roadsides, county parks, creek beds, and riverfronts. This is a direct savings of taxpayer dollars that currently go to county workers assigned to this task. Inmates assigned will be nonviolent, non-escape-risk people who will be under the direct supervision of armed jailers and posse members. Inmates will not be allowed to lay around the jail with three meals a day and a bed at night without giving back to the people of Scott County by working prisoner details. Opponent’s stance: Has been in office over three years and discontinued the prisoner detail program started by his predecessor.
Crystal-meth enforcement: A recent Quad-City Times headline reported that Iowa is the number-one state in the nation for crystal-meth incidents. As sheriff, I will create a street-crimes unit that will use plain-clothed deputies and posse members patrolling the rural areas in non-recognizable vehicles during the time of season when farmers use the chemicals sought by crystal-meth manufacturers. I will also provide free education for local farmers on what those chemicals are and how to secure them. Homeland Security money was supposed to be available to first-line public safety personnel after 9-11-01. I have lobbied in Washington, D.C., while I served as Davenport’s mayor (1998-2002) and know my way around the Capitol if it is necessary to fight for these funds. Opponent’s position: He doesn’t have one!
Juvenile gang problem: Davenport has seen a resurgence in the juvenile street-gang problem and it will move into the smaller communities in Scott County just as it did in the mid-’90s. While crime in Scott County is down, juvenile crime is on the rise due to gangs. I have presented over 250 community gang-awareness programs (many in Scott County); have co-authored a book on gangs; have testified as an expert in gang prosecution; and will provide free training to county parents and teachers so they will be able to recognize the early warning signs of gang behavior and help prevent it before it gets embedded in their homes and towns. Opponent’s position: Refuses to acknowledge the growing gang problem and has no plan for addressing it.
Patrolling County Area: I will focus on patrol efforts and increase the number of uniformed deputies patrolling county towns and the rural areas. Uniformed posse members will be required to serve the amount of time they agreed to serve when joining the posse, so deputies will have partners and therefore be safer. People in Scott County towns will see a deputy every day. Opponent’s plan: Has said he doesn’t see the need for an increase in patrol and people in the small towns have complained to me they rarely see a sheriff’s unit in their area.
Jail programs: Currently the jail offers programming in the following areas: parent education; GED; women’s and men’s empowerment groups; substance-abuse recovery; spiritual-based programs; inmate worker programs (I will put them to work in the communities!); mental-health diversion; and alternative sentencing. As sheriff, I will add programs dealing in the following social areas: battered women; cognitive thinking and employment skills (remedial reading, writing, computer skills); HIV awareness; and domestic-violence support. Some of these programs depend on grant money, but I will look for ways to collaborate with Family Resources, Genesis Medical Systems, and local colleges and universities to assist with funding as well as developing an inmate-mentoring program. Opponent’s position: Has some programs in place but has not recognized the need for employment skills to be offered to inmates so they can seek work and avoid being a repeat offender.
Jail amenities: My opponent obtained a grant to provide new carpeting, a big-screen television, DVD player, a popcorn machine, and soda-pop dispenser for inmates housed at the annex on Tremont Avenue in north Davenport! While I don’t believe these types of things are necessary in any jail, I will use amenities as a reward for inmate conduct. These “luxuries” will only be available to those inmates participating in the prisoner-detail program and those programs offered to help better themselves. Opponent’s position: Apparently felt the need to provide a “home-like” environment to inmates. I want the jail to be a place people will not want to come back to.
Warrant-response team: I will create a Warrant Response Team comprised of deputies and local police officers (asking Davenport and Bettendorf to contribute one officer each) that will begin serving the thousand of warrants currently outstanding in Scott County. Serving these warrants will serve two purposes. First, it will take criminals off of the streets. Two, hundreds of thousands of dollar in unpaid fines are owed to the county, and serving these warrants will generate some of that money back to the taxpayers. Opponent’s position: Doesn’t have one.
Sheriff visibility: Many people in Scott County do not know who their sheriff is! As sheriff, I will make regular appearances in your town to talk to you about your public-safety concerns. I will be a visitor at your town-council meetings, volunteer-fire-department meetings, and other gatherings where a sheriff should be focusing on the concerns of the citizens. I will get to know your children, and you will know who your sheriff is and that I am accountable for your public safety. I will collaborate with all towns, including Davenport and Bettendorf, to ensure that the sheriff’s department is available to assist in any needs they may have. Opponent’s position: Unknown, but he has not been a regular visitor to your towns.
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