Family: Significant other, Tara; her daughters, Victoria and Marissa; my daughters, Cassidy and McKenzie.
Occupation: Shift team leader at Roquette America; small business owner – conducting home inspection during a purchase.
Political Experience: Co-Chairman of Lee County Republicans
Why are you running for office?
I finished high school, graduated from SCC, completed my business administration degree in 1992 and subsequently left to start my Marine Corps career. The decline had already started; however, I don’t think anyone knew at the time that it was a trend that would continue for the next three decades as a direct result of NAFTA.
Manufacturing facilities kept closing, and then small business closed. Dozens of doors shut and hundreds of jobs across our area gone. When the jobs left, people started following them, until Senate District 42 lost 10,000 people, and with the current census I fear we will find even more have left.
In 2013 after my second combat deployment promotion to lieutenant colonel and completing a seconded stint of active duty, I returned to Lee County.
I have had my share of challenges, spent multiple months avoiding enemy mortars and rockets, seen genuine fear in a person’s eyes as they reached for my hand for help up as we ran for cover after being caught in an open position. However, returning home to no job, no opportunities and six months of unemployment was the most difficult challenge I had ever faced. It is a challenge that thousands have faced in Southeast Iowa and something that for very personal reasons, I want to help alleviate.
Even before I had found a job, I joined an economic development committee and served for the next four years.
I spent my entire adult life in service to our nation, and now I want to serve the people of Southeast Iowa as their senator, to be an advocate in Des Moines for our area. I want to make Southeast Iowa a place we can have a better life and ensure our family and children can stay in the area, have the education, ability and opportunities to be successful.
What are your priorities if elected?
My first priority is to ensure the challenges we face in Southeast Iowa are heard in Des Moines. My goal is to help foster an environment that is conducive to economic development.
Economic development is so vitally important because it is the creation of wealth from which our community benefits are realized, jobs are created, houses are built, stores are opened, parks are maintained, and our streets are paved. It is more than a jobs program, it’s an investment in growing our economy and enhancing the prosperity and quality of life for ALL residents.
What do you see as the top issues facing the state in the next legislative session?
Fortunately, the state budget is in good shape because spending has been conservative and cautious the last four years. Recently the state fiscal year ended with a surplus of over $300 million, despite the economic slowdown from the pandemic.
I do believe the state needs to continue budgeting responsibly and cautiously, especially amid all the uncertainty the pandemic has caused. I want to make sure money is being spent in areas that are important to Iowans, like education and public safety, and also passing budgets that are sustainable for our state so we can give some of the money back to the Iowans who earned it.
Obviously, the largest issue now is COVID and the drag it is putting on people, schools, economy, growth and just our everyday lives and relationships. Getting back to normal and I don’t mean “the new normal” I am saying “normal.”
Certainly ensuring our schools and all other critical programs are prioritized and funded accordingly. Thankfully Iowa was positioned well enough financially to weather this setback and still have the ability to ensure all programs in the budgets are funded .
Do you think the state government has responded well to the COVID-19 pandemic, and if not, how should it have responded differently?
I think anyone could armchair quarterback, looking with hindsight and find an area to pick apart.
I feel that Iowa overall did an outstanding job of balancing safety, risk, economy and our civil liberties. Some sectors were closed, others were restricted, conversely we have seen other states intact very heavy-handed overbearing rules that have crushed small business, started pending lawsuits and led to one very well-known car manufacturer, Tesla, relocating from California to less restrictive less taxed Texas.
These decisions matter and with the exodus happening in New York, Illinois and other states there will be second and third order effects felt in states for years to come.
What can the state Legislature do in 2021 about stopping the spread of the pandemic while also being mindful of the effects on the economy?
Locally, we are currently seeing positivity rates of around 7, half of the criteria required for keeping children in schools full time.
We have procedures that are working at schools, at restaurants, at retail businesses and at work. We should not accept this forever this isn’t the new normal.
Progress in treatment and vaccines are in our immediate future, recovery rates have risen dramatically. Short term, we need to continue protecting people we have identified as susceptible or at risk and continuing on with the growth that was on pace prior to COVID.