(KWQC) – TV6 reached out to candidates with a list of questions to help voters make an informed decision in the Nov. 8 elections.
These are the full, unedited responses from the candidates. TV6 will post the answers on the Decision 2022 page.
TV6 does not endorse any candidates. We will continue to add more candidates’ answers as we receive them.
Deidre DeJear, 36, Des Moines, Iowa.
What are your top three priorities if elected?
Education: Fully funding our public schools, increasing compensation wages for teachers, administrators and support staff, restoring and enhancing collective bargaining for all public employees, and reinstating a loan forgiveness program for current and new educators who commit to stay and teach in the state of Iowa for five years.
Abortion and Reproductive care: Increasing access to birth control, including Plan B and other emergency contraception, restoring public funds for family planning services to providers that offer comprehensive sexual and reproductive healthcare, expanding the number of sexual and reproductive health clinics throughout the state, and ensuring paid parental leave provisions in the state.
Physical and Mental Healthcare: Increasing access to affordable healthcare for both insured and uninsured Iowans, restoring rural healthcare access, increasing the reimbursement rate for both healthcare and mental healthcare services in our state, expanding coverage of preventive care to include vision, dental, and hearing, lowering the cost of Insulin and prescription drug prices for all Iowans and establishing an adequate and sustainable funding system for adult and children’s mental health services statewide and ensuring mental healthcare worker pay and benefits are competitive within the region.
Do you support providing student loan debt relief? Why or why not?
Student debt relief is absolutely critical to ensure that Iowans can not only pursue an education but also live thriving lives. Student loan forgiveness will provide relief for over 408,000 Iowans. One of the greatest challenges is the affordability of higher education and the pathways to pursue that. I am a product of Iowa’s higher education system, which allowed me to start a small business and a non profit and the pathways that existed to help me create success after graduation are getting smaller and smaller for Iowan students. At one point we were funding Iowa’s regents at 3/4th of the budget, now we are only funding 1/4th of the budget and passing the costs on to students and their families. Student debt relief is a great first step but we must also ensure that higher education is more affordable so that anyone can choose to access it regardless of income, zip code, or background.
How do you plan to address housing access and affordability?
Iowans deserve to Live, Work, & Play, in whatever community they desire. In order to achieve this, the state needs a comprehensive ihousing plan that addresses the full economic ecosystem, develops and rehabilitates our housing stock and assist Iowans into homeownership. As Governor, I will work with the legislature to increase finance opportunities for workforce housing by development of a state-initiated revolving loan fund that offers local control options for counties or regions, invest in grants for communities to take part in Rural Readiness Housing Assessments and increase access to homeownership education, products, and services to increase homeownership among low-moderate income households. We need to take a holistic approach that will create more affordable housing options and also help Iowans on their journey to economic stability.
How high of a priority should global warming be? What will you do to help address the climate crisis?
Iowa has always been a place of fruitful soil and fields of opportunity. With the very pressing threat of climate change affecting our world, Iowa must move forward as a leader with an environmental justice plan that protects us all, which must include our rural communities, communities of color, communities with disabilities, our children and the sick. I will work to create pathways for more people to enter into farming, invest in regenerative agricultural practices to protect our water and prevent soil loss and run off, and establish a new blueprint for agriculture in the state where both small and large farms can plug in and thrive; with sustainability in mind. I will partner with industry experts to take the necessary steps to protect our waterways, while also creating good paying renewable energy jobs to enhance our lives and further strengthen our economy.
Do you approve of the current state position on abortion rights? What changes to abortion rights should be made?
Public funding in Iowa for family planning services is not adequate to meet the needs of Iowans. In 2017, family planning services in Iowa were gutted and the administration refused $3 million in federal funding in order to defund providers who offer abortion care. Since then, STI rates in the state have jumped 21 percent. Iowa’s incumbent Governor, Kim Reynolds, was one of eleven governors who called on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. She signed a law, currently stopped by the courts, that would ban abortions at six weeks — before most people know they are pregnant — and a law requiring a medically unnecessary 24-hour waiting period to receive an abortion. These decisions have set a dangerous precedent, which will only serve to further put women in harm’s way.
We know that more than 60% of Iowans support safe and legal abortions. Iowa is in desperate need of a leader who will keep politicians out of personal health care decisions and expand access to care. Unlike the current leadership, I will continue to stand with the people by protecting the reproductive freedoms and healthcare rights of all Iowans.
What should be done to combat inflation?
We know that all Iowans and industries are feeling the pressure of inflation and it’s important that we be able to weather this storm together. For immediate support of Iowans, I will work to ensure that we have enough supplies coming into our state to meet demands and keep costs stable. While President Biden and Congress have taken actions to tackle inflation nationwide, there is still work we must do to ensure that things here at home in Iowa are affordable– housing, groceries, and medication just to name a few. We need sustainable solutions so that our state is always ready to meet these moments as we know that pandemics, inflation and economic downturns will always be something that the world can expect to experience. My priority as governor is to make sure that our state can meet those moments with our preparation.
Do you support raising the minimum wage?
Iowa is facing a wage gap, a workers shortage, and a skills gap. We have struggled with these issues for many years, but the pandemic further exacerbated our challenges. We must put working Iowans first by supporting their needs. It is time to increase our minimum wage, but we must strive for a sustainable wage, not just a higher minimum wage. Our state needs to have a comprehensive economic plan that will fully address the challenges of Iowas. Our plan needs to keep jobs here, attract new manufacturing and technology jobs, strengthen small businesses, and ensure that no Iowan has to work two or three jobs just to provide for their family. We must also invest in affordable housing and healthcare/mental healthcare as these contribute dramatically to one’s quality of life and wellbeing. Working people make this state run and we must prioritize them in all our decisions.
What role do you think the government should have in establishing workplace policies like paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, and minimum wage?
It is the role of our government to provide pathways for our citizens to pursue life, liberty and happiness. The wellbeing of our workforce needs to be a top priority for our governor and instituting strong policies on paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, and a sustainable wage is necessary in Iowa. Additionally, in the last few years, we have lost 40% of our childcare providers in Iowa. The lack of childcare options is a huge burden to families and a barrier to parents being able to rejoin the workforce. Affordable, accessible, safe child care must be a priority for our government. That means investing in staff to fill empty positions, raising wages for childcare workers, and increasing reimbursement rate for providers so businesses have the resources they need to provide services.
There is increasing scrutiny toward law enforcement nationally, statewide, and locally. Do you feel that the scrutiny is justified?
I have deep appreciation and support for our law enforcement officers. They are public servants who put their lives on the line every day and I owe them and their families a debt of gratitude. Over the past two years, there has been a lot of good happening to improve our public safety system. We’ve seen a concerted effort from law enforcement, corrections, local electeds and community members working together to try to resolve differences but more importantly, to keep people safe in our communities. This has not been an easy thing to do and there is still work to be done, but this has been able to happen in our state because we have folks who are intent on strengthening our communities and seeing the humanity in their neighbors.
I have spent a considerable amount of time throughout my career working directly with law enforcement to develop programing to reduce recidivism and strengthen the services that lift the burden off of law enforcement by keeping people out of our justice system in the first place. I am committed to continuing this service as your next governor, and instead of stoking the flames of division and feeding this narrative that pits law enforcement against the communities they serve, I will work towards solution-oriented initiatives that improve community-police relations and remove systemic barriers that exist for some Iowans.
What do you believe to be the #1 public safety issue in Iowa today?
Iowa is experiencing a true mental health crisis which is a deterrent to both the health and safety of our communities. Our law enforcement officers are being put in the position to serve as mental health care professionals and having to operate our local jails as a replacement for mental healthcare facilities– we know that’s not what they signed up for. Our state is currently ranked 44th in the nation for mental health workforce availability, we have less than 30 child psychologists, and less than 750 mental health beds in the state. By July of 2021, we should have had 6 Mental Health Access Centers in Iowa, we only have 2. We must address this problem by expanding mental healthcare funding, increasing the number of practitioners in the state, increasing resources and access points, as well as addressing the factors that exacerbate poor mental health such as housing insecurity, the inability to earn a livable wage, and securing affordable childcare solutions.
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