KIMT News 3 - Each week leading up to the election we are featuring races on your ballot and making sure you are informed about where candidates stand on important issues.
This week we begin with the race for Iowa’s highest office. Republican Governor Kim Reynolds and her challenger, democrat Fred Hubbell went head to head in their first debate. With so much attention surrounding sexual assault and harassment cases nationwide and close to home, the two were asked how they would deal with and work to stop that kind of behavior.
“So it's about changing the culture. It's about making sure we have more women in leadership and it's about making sure people know they will be heard, and that if the policy is violated action will be taken,” responded Reynolds.
"State government should have a whistle blower process, so that if somebody has claimed a sexual harassment or assault in the workplace or mismanagement of resources, they can go outside their line of command so that they don't have to go to their boss or H-R. They go to the 800 number that's anonymous and gets reviewed. Then an independent third party takes action quickly and it's investigated and results are done," says Hubbell.
Reynolds and Hubbell also answered question surrounding taxes, gun safety and how to improve the economy. Reynolds is seeking her first full term as governor. Hubbell is a Des Moines businessman who wants to shift state leadership after 8 years of republican governorship. Two more debates are scheduled. They will be held on October 17 in Sioux City and October 21 in Davenport.
Meanwhile, it's a race that could impact the makeup of the US Senate as republicans work to stay in control. The seat previously held by former Senator Al Franken will either be filled by republican candidate Karin Housley or democrat, Tina Smith who was appointed to the seat after he resigned. Right now, Smith is ahead in the polls by about 9 points. KIMT News 3 political analyst Dr. Eric Shoars says it's going to be hard for Housley making up that ground.
"For Karin Housley to win this election it's going to come down to riding Trump’s coat tails. He has to be so popular in Minnesota that people can't wait to vote for her and they strongly disagree with Senator Smith's time in the senate as brief as it's been and her decisions on some issues including Justice Kavanagh," says Shoars.
Shoars also points out Smith has not done much else during her time in the senate that would be controversial which isn't giving Housley much leverage. To better get to know where these candidates stand on education specifically, we asked both how much control government should have over local school districts.
"Nobody knows better how to educate the kids in their communities than the parents and the families and the local school districts. Education should always be kept as local as possible. Nobody wants Washington D.C. telling you how to educate your kids in the Rochester area,” says Housley.
"My view is that public education is something we all agree to do together. It is the key to opportunity to every child in our country and our state. Education is mostly a local issue and I think that's as it should be. It is mostly paid for by state and local governments and controlled at the local level through local school boards but the government has a very important role to play," says Smith.
Smith says the federal government should step in where needed to help districts with issues they are facing like the current teacher shortage being felt in rural Minnesota and Iowa. Housley feels some federal programs should be eliminated to give schools more freedom.
Getting down to the local level, Iowa Senate District 27 covers most of Cerro Gordo, Franklin and Butler counties.
This year, incumbent Senator Amanda Ragan is facing a challenge from republican business woman Shannon Latham. Both candidates sat down with KIMT to answer a few questions, including what their top priority would be in Des Moines come January.
"The Medicaid expansion has been beneficial but the privatization of managed care has really been a problem especially for those with disabilities and seniors. I am hoping to resolve it and work in a bipartisan way to bring some conclusion to what's going on across the state," says Ragan.
“One of the things that I am really trying to promote is revitalizing rural communities as well as areas like Mason City and I think one key to that is entrepreneurship. I know that one thing that's hindering entrepreneurship right now and the growth of rural businesses is rural broadband so I would like to see us make that more of a priority to attract more businesses to these areas," says Latham.
Latham is co-owner and vice president of Latham Hi-Tech Seeds. Ragan is the executive director of the Community Kitchen of North Iowa; she was first elected to the senate in 2002.
Minnesota absentee ballot numbers continue to impress. According to the Minnesota Secretary of State's Office, more than 223,000 ballots have already been requested. This is a 209% increase over requests at this time in the 2014 midterm election. In Olmsted County specifically, in 2014, 1,864 absentee ballots were requested, so far this year more than 7,060 have been requested.
As the first week of absentee voting wraps up in Iowa, we are getting some numbers in. According to the Cerro Gordo County Auditor's Office, so far this year 2,750 absentee ballots have been requested or are in the hands of election officials. In 2014, that number was 2,900 at this time. Interim Auditor Pat Wright reminds voters this year in Iowa you only have 29 days to vote early as opposed to 40 days in years past.