Rounding up the candidates
Marshall County voters have many choices going into June 5 primary
The June 5 primary election is almost upon Marshall County voters, and multiple competitive races will make their way onto Tuesday’s ballots — Election Day will pass without incident for other candidates running unchallenged in the primary.
The winners of Tuesday’s election will go on to run for their respective target offices in the Nov. 6 midterm general election.
RACES TO WATCH
Marshall County Supervisor
Three Democrats are running for Marshall County Supervisor this year, and two of them will make it past the primary election to face Republican incumbent supervisors Bill Patten and Dave Thompson in November. Two of the three supervisor seats are up in the 2018 midterm election.
• Sue Blaisdell
About: Blaisdell, a Democrat who has lived in Marshalltown since 2002, is running again for the post of Marshall County Supervisor in 2018, having unsuccessfully challenged for the seat in 2014. Among her top priorities are seeing the county contribute financially to the Iowa River Trail, making the county “healthier and more economically vibrant” and promoting environmental issues like clean water and sewage management.
She has said she thinks the current board “is not forward-thinking in addressing the needs of young people in Marshall County.”
Blaisdell said she’s also interested in improving housing opportunities close to areas with employment and shopping opportunities.
• Howard Stewart
About: Stewart said he is running for county supervisor to “give back to the community.” The 47-year Marshalltown resident was the owner-operator of Stewart Surveying for 13 years; he went on to work as a surveyor for Clapsaddle-Garber Associates for 10 years and Manatt’s Inc. for another 11 years. Stewart also worked as a surveyor in the Jasper County Engineer’s office, and currently works part-time at Clapsaddle-Garber.
Stewart said he is a good listener and would keep an open mind when hearing residents’ thoughts if he were to win the supervisor position. He also said he wants to improve the county’s infrastructure using his engineering and surveying expertise.
Stewart said his small business background gives him budgeting experience, and one of the primary duties of the supervisors is to approve the county’s annual budget. He also said he would like to see the board invest in the Iowa River Trail.
• Thomas Thurston
About: Thurston said his small business background, experiences talking face-to-face with county voters and volunteering make him a good candidate for Marshall County Supervisor. He owns Thomas Taylor Designs and graduated from Marshalltown High School in 2005. Thurston is also involved as the vice president of the Friends of Marshall County Conservation and as the chair of design for the 13th Street District.
Among the issues on Thurston’s platform are supporting clean water and soil, expanding the county’s parks and recreational trail system and promoting efforts to provide critical mental health resources.
Thurston has also expressed support for the county contributing funds to the Iowa River Trail. He has experience working for state House Minority Leader Rep. Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown, on the campaign trail. He describes himself as “just a normal guy” who cares deeply about the community.
Iowa House District 72
Four Democrats are running for Iowa House District 72, currently held by Rep. Dean Fisher, R-Montour. All four are from Tama County. The House district covers much of rural Marshall County, all of Tama County and a small portion of southern Blackhawk County.
• John Anderson
About: Anderson is taking an unconventional approach in his bid to win the Democratic nod to take on Fisher in November. He said he is focused on being “a disruptor” and getting elected officials to think differently by “shaking up the status quo.”
Anderson said he has employment experience in California’s Silicone Valley, as well as 125 hours of formal engineering courses. He ran unsuccessfully in the 2016 primary election for the District 72 post. During that run, he called himself a “dark horse.”
Anderson has also publicly shown concern about subliminal messaging in textbooks, according to the Tama News-Herald and said he is taking legal action against state government entities.
• Mindy Benson
About: The veteran Emergency Management and E-911 director for Tama County, Benson said she is running for Iowa House because she concerned about the level of state funding to “public services like health care, mental health treatment and public safety.” She said the legislature has not done an adequate job in prioritizing many areas of public service.
Benson said she will not let partisanship get in her way if she is able to win the primary election and defeat Fisher in November. She said her 13 years of emergency dispatcher experience trained her to stay cool and calm in high-pressure situations, a skill she wants to take to the Iowa Capitol.
In her emergency management role, Benson said she deals with weather-related incidents and lends support to county fire departments, ambulance services and first responders. With experience as a foster mom for 13 children, she said she can bring selfless attitude to the Iowa House of Representatives.
• David Degner
About: Before 2016, Degner said he had no particular interest in politics. However, changes to the state’s Medicaid system caused the Hawkeye Community College business and community education instructor to want to do more. He said his younger brother is severely disabled and has relied on Medicaid for over two decades. Degner said the privatization of Medicaid has negatively impacted people like his brother.
Another area of focus for Degner is the state budget situation. He said state has prioritized tax incentives for corporations over funding for mental health and education. With his background in the U.S. Army Reserve, as a small business owner and as a bulk fuel transport driver for Pioneer Hi-Bred, Degner said he understands how working-class people in District 72 feel, and what changes they want to see at the state level.
He describes himself as “just an average person who got motivated and angry enough to do something, win or lose,” and said he hopes to change things if he wins the primary and gets elected in November.
• Joycelyn George
From: Rural Traer
About: A retired teacher, George said she’s proud to not be a politician as she looks to win the Democratic nod to take on Fisher in November, she told the Tama News-Herald. She said she’s excited to “make Iowa Great Again” if she is able to succeed on June 5 and Nov. 6.
Iowa Congressional District 1
Four Democrats are running in this year’s First U.S. Congressional District primary race. All are looking to challenge incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Rod Blum in November. Blum’s is one of several Republican-held congressional seats nationwide Democrats hope to flip in 2018.
• Thomas Heckroth
From: Cedar Falls
About: Thomas Heckroth said his years serving under former U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin and in U.S. Labor Department under the Obama administration, as well as in the private sector, have made him the best candidate to take on Blum in November. He said he is the only candidate with experiences in all three of those areas and that he is capable of working with both progressive and moderate Democrats to push forward an agenda to “have an economy that works for everyone.”
Among Heckroth’s priorities are getting a $15 minimum wage passed, improving access to Medicare and reducing health care costs. He said he also has experience working on education and labor issues in the public sector.
Heckroth said his public and private sector experiences make him the best Democrat challenge for the seat in November. He said he’s willing to put in the work and listen to constituents if he is able to win the primary and find success against Blum.
• Iowa Rep. Abby Finkenauer
About: Rep. Abby Finkenauer is looking to become the youngest woman to be elected to the United States Congress in November, but she must first win the June 5 primary. She is serving her second term in the Iowa House and said she has been running a grass-roots campaign.
In her time in the state legislature, Finkenauer said she has supported Equal Pay or Equal Work legislation, expanding renewable energy, solving higher education tuition cost and student loan debt problems, strengthening Iowa’s schools and more. Finkenauer has touted her family’s union background and opposed changes to the state’s collective bargaining laws in 2017.
She worked previously as a legislative aide at the Iowa Capitol and as a congressional page in Washington, D.C. Finkenauer has been highly critical of Blum in her campaign, and said her platform and legislative experience make her the best candidate to take him on in the general election.
• George Ramsey III
About: For George Ramsey III, running for U.S. Congress is about serving others. He said his 31 years serving in the U.S. Army and his dedication to advocating for working families make him the best in the Democratic field to go “toe-to-toe” with Blum in November. Ramsey said Democrats have lost touch with rural Iowans and that his goal is not just to win over voters in highly-populated counties like Dubuque, Black Hawk and Linn, but people in the district’s rural areas as well.
He said he also expanded his service experience as a special agent with the Missouri Department of Public Safety. Another one of Ramsey’s priorities is improving relationships between police officers and their communities. He described himself as a leader, and that his focus and experience serving people make him the strongest candidate for the First District.
• Courtney Rowe
From: Cedar Rapids
About: Courtney Rowe said there’s no need to pit growing the economy against environmentally-conscious policies, and that one of her priorities is to expand the renewable energy sector. The Cedar Rapids engineer said wealth inequality is another area she would like to tackle if she succeeds in winning the First Congressional District seat, including “making it easier for people to start a small business,” according to her campaign website. Rowe has also advocated for tuition-free public college and trade school education and for universal healthcare.
Rowe also said she supports a $15 minimum wage and legislation that would improve water quality. She opposes the “PAC (political action committee) system” of campaign finance.
Rowe said she has served in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and on several church mission boards.
ON THE BALLOT
U.S. Congressional District 1
• U.S. Rep. Rod Blum
About: U.S. Rep. Rod Blum is the Republican incumbent in Iowa’s First Congressional District, and he has held the post since 2014. The Dubuque businessman is unchallenged in the June 5 primary election and looks to face one of the four Democrats vying for that party’s nomination to run in the November election.
Blum voted in favor of the federal tax cuts passed in December of 2017, and he voted in favor of a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, last year. He sits on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the House Small Business Committee.
One Democrat and one Republican are running unopposed in the June 5 primary for Iowa House District 71, which includes Marshalltown and part of northern Marshall County.
• State House Minority Leader Rep. Mark Smith
About: Smith is running for his 10th term in the Iowa House, and has several priorities as the ranking Democrat in that chamber. The professional social worker said increasing funding to K-12 and post-secondary education, fixing Medicaid privatization, increasing mental health care options and improving Iowa’s agriculture economy are among his priorities going into the 2018 general election.
Additionally, Smith said he has been involved in getting 113 Democratic candidates to run for 95 of the state’s 100 state House districts.
He said Iowans expect lawmakers to work together to serve the state, and that he wants to bring a common-sense agenda back to the Iowa Capitol.
• James Perez
About: A native of West Texas and eight-year Marshalltown resident, Republican Iowa House candidate James Perez said he’s ready to take on incumbent Democratic state Rep. Mark Smith in November. A former U.S. Marine and business manager in the local scrap metal industry, Perez described himself as “blue collar” and wants to take action to promote conservative ideas. He said he wants to protect the Second Amendment, and reduce regulations on businesses. He also said he would work to improve mental health care in the state if elected to the Iowa House. Perez said he believes some of the freedoms Americans enjoy are “eroding away” and he would not vote for legislation he sees as taking freedoms away.
Perez said voters will never have to guess where he stands on a given issue. He said if he promises to vote for or against a bill, he will keep that promise.
Iowa House District 72 (Most of Marshall County, all of Tama County, small portion of southern Blackhawk County)
• State Rep. Dean Fisher
About: Fisher is looking to win his fourth term in the Iowa House and will face one of the four Democrats vying to face him in November. He said many of the issues he has campaigned on in previous elections have been passed into law by the Republican-controlled Iowa legislature, including a new voter ID law, a law banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, state tax cuts and more. Fisher said he plans to run on cutting spending, and “working hard and doing things for our rural schools.” Over the summer and into fall, Fisher said he plans to knock doors and talk to constituents about issues they care about.
• Marshall County Auditor and Recorder Nan Benson
From: Washington Township, rural Marshall County
About: Benson was appointed to the county auditor-recorder position in October of 2017 by the Marshall County Board of Supervisors after Deanne Raymond exited the position mid-term. As a result, the office is reappearing on the ballot two years into its normal four-year term. Benson previously worked at Emerson Process Management as a training and project specialist for the company’s Global Human Resources Information Systems team. She also served as the Washington Township clerk prior to becoming the auditor-recorder.
In her position, Benson oversees county elections, and is one of two combined auditor-recorders in the state. She is an accountant and CPA by trade, and said she is excited to be running for office for the first time. She does not have an opponent in the 2018 primary or general elections.
• Marshall County Attorney Jennifer Miller
About: Miller is running for her fifth four-year term as Marshall County Attorney, and said she’s enjoyed her work as the county’s chief law enforcement official. She said she takes pride in her office’s debt collection program to recover $12 million in unpaid fines in the county, of which about $3 million has been recovered. Miller also said she hired a victim-witness coordinator and wants to expand that area of the office. She said she is focused on helping victims of crime in the county. She does not have an opponent in the 2018 primary or general elections.
• Marshall County Treasurer Jarret Heil
About: Heil was first elected as county treasurer in 2010, and said he’s enjoyed engaging with the public in the position. Heil said he has made customer service a top priority of his office considering the type of work he is charged with doing, which includes collecting property taxes and registering motor vehicles. Increasing efficiency in the office is one priority Heil said he wants to continue working on. He said he looks forward to continuing to serve county residents after the 2018 election. He is running unopposed for the seat in 2018.
• Marshall County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Dave Thompson:
About: Thompson said his initial motivation to run for county supervisor in 2010 was because he thought the county could use his experience. The Thompson True Value owner said his background in business has since helped the county get out of debt while maintaining “all our services” and meeting the county’s maintenance needs. He said he wants to continue working to acquire land for the Green Mountain Wastewater Treatment Facility project, and save taxpayer money.
Thompson said he believes government can be run like a business and he will continue to run on a platform of good, prudent growth. Along with fellow Republican incumbent Supervisor Bill Patten, Thompson is running unopposed in the June 5 primary, but will face Democratic challengers in November.
• Marshall County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Patten:
From: Bangor Township, rural Marshall County
About: First elected in 2014, Patten said being a county supervisor is about community service. He said he had the support of family, friends and constituents when he decided to run for a second term at the seat in 2018. He said continuing to work on the Green Mountain Wastewater Treatment Facility project is one of his priorities, as is expanding tax abatements for rural commercial facilities. Patten said such temporary tax breaks benefit businesses while they put in new infrastructure and benefits the county later with increased property tax valuations. He said he will also focus on continuing to provide the county services voters expect. Patten is unopposed in the upcoming primary election, but the race will become competitive later this year with four candidates, two Democrats and two Republicans, vying for two of the three total supervisor seats.
For more information about voting in Marshall County, visit www.co.marshall.ia.us/departments/auditor/election/electiondetails/2018/primary-election-june-5-2018/ or call 641-754-6302.
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