Old fashioned local politics blended with issues of today- both "hot button" and age-old - were served up at the Tama County Farm Bureau Candidate Forum at the Tama Civic Center Monday night, Aug. 27.
Road improvements taxes, abortion funding, Spanish course offerings, hog confinements and more were presented as questions for the office-seekers.
Eight candidates for courthouse and state legislative posts were on hand to address questions submitted by an audience of more than 80 voters. The candidates will square off in the Nov. 6 General Election.
Kendall Jordan (D-Toledo), standing, unopposed for reelection as 2nd District Tama County Supervisor, speaks during the Farm Bureau Candidate Forum Monday night at the Tama Civic Center. Other candidates on hand included (left to right) Luke Squiers (-Tama) 3rd District supervisor, Jane Jech, (R-Marshalltown) Iowa Senate District 36, Dean Fisher (R-Garwin) Iowa House District 72, Dennis Kucera (R-Traer) sheriff, Jordan, Nathan Wrage (D-Gladbrook) Iowa House District 72, Bryan Ellenbecker (D-Tama) sheriff and Dan Anderson (D-Tama) 3rd District supervisor.
In contested races, for county sheriff- incumbent Dennis Kucera (R) and challenger Bryan Ellenbecker( D), 3rd District supervisor - Dan Anderson (D) and Luke Squiers (R) and Iowa House District 72 - Dean Fisher (R) and Nathan Wrage (D) were present.
They were joined by Kendall Jordan (D) unopposed for reelection for District 2 supervisor and Jane Jech (R) candidate for State Senate District 36.
Sheriff Dennis Kucera and Deputy Sheriff Bryan Ellenbecker sparred over 24-hour coverage provided by the sheriff's office. Kucera maintained his department provides coverage on this basis while Ellenbecker said it did not and vowed to provide it if elected.
Ellenbecker called for the sheriff's office to provide an animal control officer and cited problems with what to do with animals which are picked up by officers.
Kucera said animal control issues have been in the hands of the board of supervisors and noted it would require more budget expense if a new plan were put in place.
Both Kucera and Ellenbecker responded to a question concerning internal employee problems or crimes. They agreed an employee handbook is relied upon and discipline spelled out in it is followed. They both said criminal investigations involving the sheriff's office are purposefully handled by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation or the FBI and the Iowa Attorney General's Office.
2nd, 3rd Districts
Each of the three candidates for supervisor opened with a pledge to work with other members of the board if they are elected. They were also in agreement on attempting to hold the line on local tax askings.
In response to a question, all three candidates said they recognized the effect on the county tax base as the result of the Meskwaki Tribe's expansion of their land holdings which results in taking the property off of the tax roles.
Neither incumbent Jordan nor Anderson or Squiers said they had what they beleived to be a good answer to solve the loss of revenue. Jordan said supervisors had conferred both on the stare and federal level to resolve the issue but had, so far, found no avenue.
None of the supervisor candidates said they favored an outright call for county employees to participate in paying a portion of their health insurance premiums.
Jordan noted two labor unions are involved in the contract negotiations for a number of county employees with insurance a part of the pacts.
None of the candidates supported an outright move to local control over hog confinement operations. Currently the Department of Natural Resources governs their placement. However, Anderson called for some revision of the rules saying currently a 1,200-head operation can be placed with few restrictions.
Iowa Senate candidate Jane Jech said she "was all for public employees having to pay a portion of their health insurance premiums." She said "It's about time" efforts begin at the state level by Governor Terry Branstad to have employees pay 20 percent of the premium cost.
In answer to other questions Jech expressed opposition to the use of tax money to Planned Parenthood for abortions; said tax reductions should be sought in other areas to provide more money for bridge and road repairs; and pledged support for community college and Iowa veterans initiatives.
District 72 House of Representatives candidates Dean Fisher and Nathan Wrage neither called for support for a gas tax raise to pay for road improvements.
Fisher said he sees enough increase in state revenue growth, form a projected $6.25 billion to $6.9 billion to pay some of these costs.
Wrage said he recognizes "the needs are not being met" but finds "every time we get federal highway money it (is used)( to build a bypass around a big city." He said tax money should be redirected to rural areas for roads.
Fisher expressed emphatic opposition to a requirement for Spanish to be taught in local schools and Wrage said "the changing face of our state" calls for support for community college programs to train workers citing success of John Deere and Hawkeye Community College.