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Candidate forum — Cahill, Reed agree on money

State House District 71 candidates Sue Cahill (D-Marshalltown) and Tony (R-Marshalltown) kicked off the Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce Candidates Forum on Thursday.

Chamber Executive Director Lynn Olberding served as moderator and gave the candidates a one-minute time limit on answers. She said one of the two candidates will enter the position being vacated by longtime state Senator Mark Smith (D-Marshalltown). Smith is serving as chair of the Iowa Democratic Party.

The forum began with introductions. Cahill said she is a 30-year resident of Marshalltown. She and her late husband, John, have six adult children.

“If you have the ability, if you have the opportunity, then you need to take the obligation to take on a challenge. That’s why I’m here today,” Cahill said.

Reed said he was born and raised in Iowa. He is employed as the executive director of the Central Iowa Detention Center in Eldora. Reed and his wife, Sarah, have five children.

“I really appreciate the opportunity to be here today,” he said.

Olberding asked what the candidates what their top priority at the statehouse would be if elected. Cahill responded she is a retired teacher, so education is her number one priority. She said education extends beyond elementary and high schooling, such as ensuring parents have good-paying jobs to reduce juggling.

Reed said his main focus would be to grow the economy. He said as it grows, there will be more funding for schools and more jobs. Reed said the district also needs help with housing.

Olberding then asked what efforts the candidates would take to improve the business climate.

“I think there are a lot of efforts that can be taken,” Reed said.

He spoke about drawing businesses to the district and working with entities to do so.

“We need to do what it takes to provide the climate that works well for business,” Reed said. “Any restrictions, regulations that are unnecessary we should take a look at. We should give some solid some solid thought as to what can we do differently to help provide a better climate for business here in the state of Iowa and here in Marshall County.”

Cahill said incentives should not only be provided to large businesses in the industrial parks.

“We really need to look at Main Street, those businesses that anchor our Main Streets, the small businesses,” she said. “We need to have incentives that provide for those businesses.”

Olberding also asked about the possibility of extending the school day or year to achieve greater academic success, even though it may increase the cost.

Cahill said extending the year is not a new topic and there are concerns. She knows many school districts, Marshalltown Community included, have taken what they have and extended to provide services through the summer. Cahill said funding is needed to extend student contact hours so they can get the extra help they need. As a retired teacher, she said it was something she had experience with and would support giving them the needed help.

Reed said every opportunity to expand the success of students is important. He said there are financial issues, but added investing in education is wise. Reed would want to look at all of the ways an extension would impact the community.

The next question was what the state should do with the $305 million surplus.

Reed responded the best opportunity should be considered — whether it be setting it aside or using it now to reduce the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cahill said it is pouring outside now, in reference to using the money as a “rainy day fund” and help citizens, businesses and agriculture communities.

Olberding asked what the most important challenge facing District 71 and how the candidates would address it.

“I think one of the areas that I feel we have to address is healthcare and healthcare access,” Cahill said. “In the last 10 years, Marshalltown we’ve lost some of our critical services through our hospital and through our different providers.”

Being a desired location for people to move to, healthcare is necessary, she said.

“I think we need to do everything we can to get our economy back in shape,” Reed said. “With that, it will grow the schools, it will grow healthcare, we’ll have additional resources here. We need to look at the housing crisis we currently experience.”

The final question was if the candidates received a $1 million grant, how would it be spent and why.

Reed said he would use it for repairing homes, as $1 million would not go far in big projects, but it would help 30 to 50 people rebuild their homes.

Cahill agreed $1 million would not go far in big projects. So, she would work with community leaders and stakeholders to set up a grant program for small businesses and home owners.

Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 or lbradstream@timesrepublican.com.

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