Candidates for Iowa House District 54 talk to KIMT News 3

All three candidates outline the issues they see as pivotal in the district

Posted: Oct 23, 2020 7:19 PM

CLEAR LAKE, Iowa-- When House Speaker Linda Upmeyer announced she was leaving the legislature last September, it threw Republican leadership into disarray. Who would take the gavel from the long-serving Republican leader? Closer to home, though, the question is who will succeed Upmeyer in representing Iowa's 54th representative district?

KIMT News 3 spoke to all three candidates about what they see as the most important issues in the district.  Former educator Karen Koenig believes environmental issues are of critical importance.

"Having been an environmental educator for ten years, that is something that is of concern to me," Koenig said earnestly during a recent Zoom interview. "That also relates to sustainable agriculture which is another area of my interest. If we learn to take care of the land and leave it better than when we started, I think that's an important thing to do."

The lone independent in the race is Bennett Smith. The NIACC instructor and occasional political analyst for local media outlets believes the ongoing pandemic is issue number one.

"I think there's a short-term issue, of course, in the pandemic that we've got to work harder at containing," Bennett said during a recent visit to KIMT News 3's Rochester studio. "That would be the present crisis that we're in, but longer-term (and the theme of my campaign) is growing Iowa for the next generation because what we really face is a shortage of population and a shortage of skilled workforce in Iowa and in North Iowa."

The Republican candidate is Sheffield businesswoman Shannon Latham. Like Smith, she believes the ongoing pandemic remains a key issue for residents in the 54th district and everywhere.

"I really believe that COVID recovery is going to be the issue that needs to be forefront," Latham said emphatically during a morning Zoom interview. "I think related to that is rural broadband. So, rural broadband is something that we've continued to talk about. I know it's a front-burner issue, but sometimes it takes a real fire to get the issue dealt with, right? So if there is one thing that COVID taught us, it's the importance of having access to reliable internet everywhere from tele-education to farming."

All three candidates expressed the desire to be able to work with colleagues in other political parties to serve residents of Iowa.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 480091

Reported Deaths: 6502
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin995591576
Ramsey42700795
Dakota35723383
Anoka32968383
Washington21824253
Stearns18677200
St. Louis14644262
Scott13104104
Wright12400114
Olmsted1167988
Sherburne864873
Carver755340
Clay682284
Rice664190
Blue Earth585535
Kandiyohi576374
Crow Wing514280
Chisago493344
Otter Tail478770
Benton441090
Winona413548
Mower399231
Douglas390168
Nobles385147
Goodhue382468
Polk340762
McLeod336149
Beltrami334449
Morrison321446
Lyon311343
Itasca308245
Becker306841
Isanti303052
Carlton298344
Steele297211
Pine280316
Freeborn275923
Nicollet251241
Todd243830
Brown240037
Le Sueur230120
Mille Lacs225447
Cass217224
Waseca206317
Meeker205534
Martin186628
Wabasha18503
Roseau177617
Hubbard159740
Houston156214
Dodge15114
Renville146840
Redwood146327
Fillmore13638
Chippewa135735
Cottonwood133420
Wadena128120
Pennington125716
Faribault121216
Aitkin117633
Sibley116110
Rock115313
Watonwan11478
Kanabec106619
Pipestone100724
Yellow Medicine97517
Murray9408
Jackson92310
Swift87118
Pope7875
Marshall76615
Stevens7378
Lake72517
Clearwater71414
Lac qui Parle67916
Wilkin66410
Koochiching61711
Big Stone5093
Lincoln5022
Grant4848
Norman4648
Mahnomen4367
Unassigned43568
Kittson40421
Red Lake3534
Traverse3015
Lake of the Woods2131
Cook1190

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 358981

Reported Deaths: 5342
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57492544
Linn20508311
Scott18171204
Black Hawk16156286
Woodbury14835211
Johnson1371072
Dubuque13438192
Dallas1120090
Pottawattamie10678140
Story1011545
Warren549170
Clinton538983
Cerro Gordo530580
Webster514686
Marshall493372
Sioux490468
Buena Vista469436
Des Moines454059
Muscatine445989
Wapello4247107
Jasper404865
Plymouth392277
Lee372051
Marion355967
Jones293254
Henry292635
Carroll284448
Bremer276154
Crawford271235
Boone257530
Washington253344
Benton249254
Mahaska222745
Jackson219638
Dickinson215938
Tama211464
Kossuth206754
Clay192725
Hamilton191041
Delaware188739
Winneshiek186626
Fayette183832
Buchanan183128
Page181319
Hardin179538
Wright179031
Harrison178369
Cedar174722
Clayton167853
Butler165431
Floyd161939
Mills161820
Poweshiek153229
Cherokee153135
Madison152817
Hancock146429
Lyon145341
Iowa143723
Allamakee143444
Appanoose138147
Grundy138030
Jefferson137232
Winnebago136830
Calhoun133010
Cass132248
Mitchell129840
Louisa127741
Union125831
Chickasaw124513
Sac123618
Emmet120840
Shelby119433
Franklin118119
Humboldt116724
Guthrie116128
Palo Alto104021
Montgomery103636
Howard102221
Clarke99020
Keokuk97329
Unassigned9270
Monroe92128
Adair91126
Ida90732
Pocahontas85119
Davis82123
Monona81325
Greene76610
Lucas72721
Osceola69714
Worth6876
Taylor66212
Fremont5819
Decatur5709
Van Buren55918
Ringgold51516
Wayne48521
Audubon4839
Adams3264
Rochester/St. Mary'S
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