Reasons to raise the minimum wage

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A letter from Rich Higdon, candidate for state representative

Greetings! It’s a great honor to run for the Iowa House of Representatives from District 27. My education and experience enable me to be able to serve you and Iowa.

I graduated Lamoni High in 1975 and went on to earn a degree at Graceland University (79) in economics, business administration, and history. I hired on with International Harvester in their finance department and worked for them for about 7 years in California. While there, I earned a Masters’ in Business Administration from Pepperdine University (82). Graceland then asked me to come back and teach in the business department. I taught for a semester, then followed my wife into the US Air Force, Medical Service Corp (medical administration). I served our nation as an officer for 20 years, retiring honorably as a Major in 2009. I did tours in Cheyenne, St Louis, Japan, and Washington DC, where I served for almost 10 years. My highest award was the Defense Meritorious Service Medal. I also received the Global War of Terrorism Medal for service in Iraq (05). Then I was hired as a military contractor for the US government to teach logistics to the Afghan National Police. I did that for 4 years. Now I chase cows on the family ranch in Lamoni.

I know that governments can work for the people if led properly because I’ve seen firsthand both good and bad leadership. I have three core reasons why I’m asking for your vote.

First, economic development. I know that’s a little like saying I’m for “Ma and apple pie” but specifically, I’m for building the economic infrastructure that attracts businesses. One of those elements is surface water. We need water for businesses wanting to locate in our district. The reservoir project near Osceola needs to be completed. My opponent, Representative Joel Fry, is either opposed to the reservoir or can’t make it happen. The will of the people, supporting this project, is overwhelmingly clear. It will be a top priority for me.

Second, we need to support our public schools. I’m a product of the Iowa public schools and I know how central schools are to our children’s education and as a center for small towns. Our schools need to get their budgets on time, get paid for the students attending the current year, and enable our teachers with the resources they need. I’ve been endorsed by the National Education Association for my strong support of public education. My opponent votes for home schooling bills that move resources away from our public schools and, because he homeschools, would significantly increase money coming into his household.

Third, I’m against the state intruding into the private medical lives of Iowans. Rep. Fry pushed legislation that would require every woman who had the tragedy of a miscarriage to report it to the police, file a death certificate, and involve a funeral home for the remains. That is outrageous! Iowans are better than that.

Thanks for your time to read some of my thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you and I hope I can serve you in the Iowa House.

– Rich Higdon, r.higdon57@yahoo.com

Down-ballot contests in Clarke County: a rundown

There are some interesting down-ballot contests going on in Clarke County, but also some positions that lack any candidates at all.   Cruising around the county, one can see not only yard signs for Democrats and Republicans in the same yard, but even yard signs for opposing candidates for the same position standing next to each other.   And then there are the non-partisan candidates, and even a California-style ballot referendum in Osceola on how long the mayor’s term of office should be. Who’s running for what? Here’s a rundown.

Congress Second District: All of Clarke County is in District 2; there has been some confusions about this since the 2013 redistricting. It’s Democratic incumbent Dave Loebsack versus Republican Chris Marks. We are not in Steve King’s district (District 4, northwest Iowa), nor David Young’s (District 3, southwest Iowa including Des Moines). Clarke and Decatur counties are the westernmost counties in the 2nd district, which includes Iowa City, Burlington, and Davenport.

State Senate District 14: Incumbent Amy Sinclair is the Republican candidate. The Democrats don’t have a candidate.   Ruth Smith is running as an independent on an anti-corporate campaign money platform.

State House District 27: Republican incumbent Joel Fry versus Democratic candidate Rich Higdon. More on this contest next week.

Clarke County Sheriff: The impending retirement of sheriff Bill Kerns has led to a 3-way race for sheriff. Rob Kovacevich, chief deputy sheriff, is the Democratic candidate.   George Williams, the Republican candidate, is a retired law enforcement officer who has worked for the U.S. Marshall’s Service in southern Iowa as well as having held other positions in Texas and in Maricopa County, Arizona.   A third candidate, Ed Stoll, formerly of the Osceola police department prior to his retirement a couple of years ago, is running as an independent.

County Auditor: Democratic candidate Janice White, who has worked in the auditor’s office for many years, was first elected auditor in 2012, defeating Republican Joyce Neal, long-term employee of Clarke Electric Cooperative. In her first run for re-election, she is opposed by Sarah Jo Farlow, who left work in the auditor’s office in 2013 and now works as a pharmacy technician at Walmart.

County Board of Supervisors District 2 (includes Northeast Precinct and Osceola Ward 2 Precinct): Incumbent Larry Keller (Republican) is opposed by independent Richard McKnight.

County Board of Supervisors District 3 (includes Osceola Ward 2 and Ward 3 Precincts): Marvin McCann is the Democratic candidate, Ray Negley is the Republican candidate, and Derek Lumsden is running as an independent.

School Board at-large position: This is a non-partisan office, and two people are running for a position that no one ran for in 2014: Barry Mateer and Brian Crawford. Mateer is a career educator who taught for most of his career in Japan, and Crawford is a general contractor who was appointed to fill the vacancy when nobody ran for the position in 2014.

 Township trustees: There is only one contested position for township trustee: Dennis Loghry vs. Mark Doty in Liberty Township in North East Precinct..

Doyle Township in Murray Precinct, Green Bay Township in Middle Precinct, and Washington Township in Middle Precinct, on the other hand, have no candidates on the ballot for trustee. These situations offer good opportunities for write-in campaigns. Anyone interested in the position could easily take the office with a handful of write-in votes, thus relieving the board of supervisors from the necessity of finding someone to appoint. Last week’s blog post at clarkecountyiowademocrats.org described some of the duties of township trustees.

There are no contested elections in the other township trustee positions. Listing the candidates by precinct:

Middle Precinct: Knox Township, L. Lynn George. Ward Township, Ralph Miller.

Murray Precinct: Madison Township, Raymond Johnston. Troy Township, Monty Chew.

North East Precinct: Fremont Township, Tom Carson. Osceola Township: Janene D. Nelson.

Woodburn Precinct: Franklin Township, Ellen G. Danner. Jackson Township, John Carson.

Any of the above candidates who would like to say more about their qualifications and the issues they see as pertinent, please send me some information! Though the Osceola Sentinel-Tribune is publishing answers to written interview questions from some of these candidates every week, there are many voters in Clarke County who do not read the Sentinel-Tribune, and we want to get as much information out there as possible – not just to Democrats but to all voters.

– Sandra Baringer, sbaringer@gmail.com

Candidate convoy tours the county: a report

convoy-2The candidates may have learned as much as the voters who attended the stops on Saturday’s Candidate Convoy through the farther reaches of Clarke County. Conversations ranged from confusion over the borders of the reconfigured Congressional districts to the price per acre of land in 1878 ($5.00) and 1945 ($17.50), while travelling from one to another of some of the county’s pleasant and underutilized public municipal parks facilitated observation of the evolution of land management practices and small town economies.

Some of the towns visited are losing their identity as towns. Liberty is no longer on the map, and street addresses in Liberty appear as New Virginia addresses even though New Virginia is across the border in Warren County. Woodburn has so far resisted attempts to downsize its post office out of existence, but post office hours are limited. Hopeville has been unincorporated for decades, having disincorporated to take advantage of the rural electrification program in the thirties, but it possesses a beautiful shaded park that has hosted a well-known free rural music festival every September for 38 years.

Speaking at Liberty, Rich Higdon, running against Joel Fry for 42nd district state representative, focused on the need for implementation of the water reservoir proposal, to be situated in the northwest part of the county, a project which has been in various stages of planning for sixteen years. He finds the delay unacceptable in light of the inability of the West Lake reservoir to meet the county’s needs both in terms of water quantity and quality.  The project suffered a setback when the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in June 2015 that the joint entity seeking eminent domain rights lacked the power to do so as originally composed. A revised plan is pending.

Higdon also discussed the need for economic development in the county so that the county’s young people do not need to relocate to find suitable work. He favors an increase in the minimum wage.

Sheriff candidate Rob Kovacevich talked about his eighteen years of experience as deputy and chief deputy for the Clarke County Sheriff. He pointed out that many people are not aware of the full range of responsibilities overseen by the sheriff, including administration of the county’s only jail, service of summons in civil lawsuits, property foreclosures and evictions, wage garnishments, and missing persons searches in addition to criminal law enforcement outside the city limits and collaboration with other law enforcement agencies. He is the only member of the sheriff’s office staff who has training certification for jailers from the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy.   Kovacevich has put in countless hours of unpaid overtime in service to the county over the years, and feels his training, experience, and dedication to his job make him by far the best candidate.

Incumbent county auditor Janice White was the most visible presence, without whose truck, trailer, sign, and matching T-shirts the convoy might have been mistaken for some lost vehicles looking for a family reunion picnic. White explained the financial responsibilities of the auditor’s office and with regard to administering elections. People willing to serve as poll watchers or for other election-related volunteer work should contact the auditor’s office. People are still needed in some precincts.

White also explained some of the lesser-known elective offices in the county.   In addition to the county supervisors, each township has an elected trustee and clerk.   The trustee is responsible for cemeteries within the township and for resolving fence disputes, along with certain tax administration duties. The elections are usually uncontested and people often hold these positions for years, but when they retire and leave office, sometimes the supervisors have to seek out replacements. Information about all elective offices, candidacy, and nomination procedures and deadlines is available from the auditor’s office at the courthouse.

Candidate Convoy schedule

Candidate Convoy Saturday October 8. Come have coffee and cookies and meet with candidates and/or representatives on behalf of Dave Loebsack, Rich Higdon, Janice White, Rob Kovacevich, and Marvin McCann. Feel free to joint the caravan as they enjoy the fall foliage traveling Clarke County from site to site. Schedule:

10:00am: Osceola and Ward Townships, East Lake Park at the Shelter House

11:15am: Liberty Township Community Shelter at Liberty

12:30pm: Jackson Township in Woodburn at the band stand

1:45pm: Green Bay and Franklin Townships at the Weldon band stand

3:00pm: Doyle Township at Hopeville Park

4:15pm: Troy and Madison Township at the Murray City Park.

Voters from Washington, Knox, and Fremont Townships should go to any site that’s convenient. Everyone welcome, not a fundraiser. Contact Ed White with questions, ejwhite@iowatelecom.net