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. In this episode of Eye on Politics, we are featuring the race for Iowa's 4th Congressional District.
Currently US Representative Steve King represents this area that includes Cerro Gordo, Floyd, Hancock and Winnebago counties. An 8 term incumbent, King was first elected to congress in 2002. This election he is facing a challenge from democrat J.D. Scholten, a first time candidate for office with a background in legal work.
According to a new poll done by Emerson College, Steve King has a 10-point lead over Scholten with 16 percent of voters undecided. Because it's such a big part of our economy, issues in agriculture are a primary focus for these two candidates. Between tariffs and low commodity prices, farmers are up against a lot this season. For King, he says the main focus right now is getting a trade deal worked out with China and the new trade deal between the U.S., Mexico and Canada is a big step in getting there.
“It still leaves in place the tariffs on aluminum and steel which gives the president more leverage. So in the end we have to look at it and think this new agreement is a better agreement and it clears the decks so we can focus on other trade agreements particularly with China,” says King.
Scholten agrees a trade deal with China is important but says there are other factors at play that are keeping farmers from profiting.
“Even before these tariffs came about we had four consecutive years of low commodity prices, because of corporate consolidation within the ag industry. Farmers are being squeezed on the input and output side and those are things we need to be addressing as well. Tariffs are just part of the issue and without them farmers are going to have a tough year as is,” says Scholten.
What's interesting is where their fundraising dollars are coming from. Right now Scholten has a huge cash advantage over King but of the money Scholten has raised only 8% comes from the 4th District.
King has raised twice as much in the district. To weigh in on this, here is our KIMT political analyst Dr. Eric Shoars.
“For Scholten, the two biggest cities that are donating to him are San Francisco and New York. For Steve King it's Des Moines and Sioux City. So that tells us two things. The democrats are pouring a lot of money from outside Iowa into this race because they think they can win this seat and this seat is critical for democrats to win to win back the house,” says Shoars.
Shoars says it also means there is strong support for King in the 4th District, which are the ones voting in this race on November 6th.
Debates on the local level continue to take place making it clear people want to hear from the candidates on their ballot in order to make an informed decision. Let's zero in on Ward 1 in Rochester where the city council seat is up for grabs. This race is between Patrick Keane and Heather Holmes. From sustainability issues to city codes, they answered questions from the community including what those who are unable to clear their sidewalks this winter because of age or finances are expected to do to avoid a fine.
“There are some great services in Rochester. Rochester Family Services has a volunteer group that goes out; they have groups that go for sliding scale fees. This problem should not be resolved at the city level, there are services available,” says Keane.
“It is the responsibility of the homeowner. I think we have enough social services and hopefully enough good samaritans and neighbors who would assist,” says Holmes.
So both agree this ordinance is not one they want to see changed. The winner of this seat replaces current councilman Ed Hruska.
Meanwhile local counties continue to prepare for Election Day. The Cerro Gordo County Auditor's Office recently conducted a public test of all of their election equipment to ensure every vote counts. It's required by law that counties do this prior to Election Day in Iowa and Minnesota. Interim Auditor Pat Wright says county officials will spend an entire day testing each machine.
“We are going to run sample ballots through. We in the auditor's office predetermined what the results should be so we are hoping and guaranteeing that we have done this absolutely correct. It's for the voters to know that the equipment has been working and will be working on the day of election,” says Wright.
To make sure your vote is secure, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon is announcing they will be working with Microsoft’s Defending Democracy program to harden election cybersecurity. Simon says, “Outside forces are targeting our instruments of democracy and the stakes are especially high in Minnesota because the state is number one in voter turnout.”
In addition to this, the state has made $7 million in grants to counties for equipment upgrades, worked with federal officials to conduct risk and vulnerability assessments of Minnesota’s election systems and launched a protection system.
Meanwhile, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate paid a visit to Cerro Gordo County on Friday to talk about voter security.
“We vote by paper ballot in Iowa and I think people need to keep that in mind. We don't vote on the internet so whenever they hear about hacking or some other manipulation happening in other places around the country they need to recognize in Iowa we don't do that,” says Pate.
Pate also points out there are more provisions in place including anti-malware software, firewalls and other forms of censors.
Tune in for next week’s Eye on Politics at 10:00 p.m. on Sunday.
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