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Candidate forum — Fisher, Blackcloud differ on priorities

State House District 72 incumbent Dean Fisher (R-Montour) and Christina Blackcloud (D-Tama) faced one another in the Marshalltown Chamber of Commerce candidate forum on Thursday.

Chamber Executive Director Lynn Olberding served as moderator and opened the questions with asking what the top priority would be in the statehouse if elected.

Blackcloud said environmental concerns are her priority.

“The environment effects our health, our education, our society, our lifestyles,” she said. “So, I want to look into investing into our environmental policies and be able to create a more healthy environment.”

Blackcloud said technology could be considered to improve the environment.

Since Fisher was the incumbent, Olberding gave him the option of responding to the question, or sharing his biggest accomplishment in the Iowa House of Representatives. Fisher opted to answer the question.

“My priorities have always been the budget. We do have a very stable and well-run budget here in Iowa now and that’s helped us through this COVID pandemic,” Fisher said. “Certainly life is a very high priority for me. I’ve supported pro-life measures and we’ve had a lot of success in that area.”

He also said he wants to protect the agriculture community from extreme ideas being pushed by the Democratic Party.

Olberding then asked the candidates their position on a minimum wage increase and why.

Fisher said minimum wage is irrelevant, seeing signs at stores with starting pay of $10 to $14 per hour. He said it is a non-issue and that the market should decide what a job is worth. Fisher would oppose any efforts to set minimum wage as it would only cost jobs.

Blackcloud said a minimum wage should be set at $15 per hour and that would be an investment in Iowa. She would repeal restrictions imposed on local governments from raising minimum wages.

Olberding asked if the candidates support tax increment financing (TIF) or if they would change it.

Blackcloud said she is in support of TIF and looks forward to increasing the economy in rural areas through its use. Fisher said he would also support the continued use as it has done some good.

The next question was regarding support for economic development efforts.

Fisher said a stable budget is the most important, along with lowering property and income taxes.

“Probably the biggest area is not so much creating jobs, but filling the jobs that are open now. Our employers are just crying for people,” he said.

Blackcloud said she would like to build an infrastructure by using tax incentives for job creation.

“We need to look into supporting our entrepreneur environment with our small business development and everything,” she said. “I’d like to develop partnerships with private sectors to make sure we enhance our vocational skills and job training and apprenticeship programs.”

Olberding then asked what the most important challenge facing District 72 might be and how it would be addressed.

Blackcloud said the most important challenge is growing the economy. She would like to see small businesses grow.

For Fisher, the answer was bringing in tradesmen to help recover from the Aug. 10 derecho. He said a long-term issue is providing housing to people who commute to their jobs in the area.

Olberding also asked the candidates how they resolve issues when personal beliefs conflict with party beliefs.

Blackcloud said she is a Democrat because she believes in treating people as equal.

“One of the values we are taught at a very young age is respect. We are taught to respect our elders and I will use that same value going in to the state house,” she said.

Fisher said he has not had to face that issue. He said his beliefs are why he is a Republican.

“I believe in the right to life. I believe in personal responsibility and individual accountability and a free market economy,” he said.

Fisher said he works for the people of District 72, not anyone else.

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

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