Iowa Senator Rita Hart, Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, was in Jefferson over the lunch hour Friday. She spoke at the Milwaukee Road depot with about a dozen voters.
She said she’s confident about the Hubbell-Hart campaign. She commended the entire Democratic slate, and said they’re doing well “getting out our message of what the Democratic vision is…. People recognize the importance of making this kind of change.”
Hart has represented Clinton and part of Scott County in the Iowa Senate since 2012.She briefly introduced herself. She grew up on a dairy farm outside Charles City as one of nine children. She and all her siblings attended North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City. She went on to earn degrees in education from the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Iowa. She taught English at Bennett Community Schools and then Calamus-Wheatland Community Schools.
She and her husband Paul, one of 10 children, own and operate a farm south of Wheatland (on Highway 30 between Cedar Rapids and Clinton). They’ve been married for 36 years and bought the farm 32 years ago. They raised their five children there.
Hart explained that neither of her parents had post-secondary education, but education was very important in their home. There were always books, newspapers and magazines in the house, and they talked about the issues of the day. Her father was a strong Democrat and her mother was an equally strong Republican.
“We sat at the table and we had a caucus. We had very diverse opinions there. That’s where I learned how to stick up for what I believe in, and to back that up with an educated response,” Hart said. “But I also learned that if anybody at that table was going to listen to me, I had to listen to them first…. We learned that the argument wasn’t going to get done sitting around that table. It’s going to go on, but we needed to get up from the table because the cows needed to be milked and the chores needed to get done… You needed to leave the argument behind and get the important stuff done with these people you were just arguing with. We had to work together. That’s a lesson I learned well.”
She said that lesson wasn’t learned by the Republican-led legislature the past two years, and that she saw a big change from the Senate of six years ago. “I saw some of the most divisive legislation I’ve ever seen as the result of going behind closed doors, not taking input from the other side, not taking input from the public, changing the rules of the Senate in order to run bills through without the possibility of amendment. That is not the way to govern. It’s not the attitude to take. We ought to be putting the campaign behind us and get to the work of governing.”
She said a Hubbell-Hart administration would listen to all groups and their good ideas should be put into “a solution-focused administration.”
Hart re-iterated the messaging of Hubbell’s ad campaign.
According to Hart, the new administration would start the process of putting Medicaid back under state control their first day in office. Forty thousand Iowans have seen cuts in their Medicaid coverage, she said, and many Iowans “are one accident away from needing Medicaid services.”
They would “invest in education,” providing funding to keep class sizes small and to end the continuing increases in tuition and fees at state supported post-secondary schools.
Turning around the “mental health crisis” is another priority. “Everywhere I go I hear a tragic story about somebody who has been negatively impacted by the Medicaid privatization and also somebody who has a sad story to tell about themselves, a family member, a friend, a neighbor who didn’t get the mental healthcare services they need… We have to do better on mental health. We need a real change on how we approach that problem.”
Hubbell and Hart would “get the budget under control” to eliminate mid-year budget cuts, and re-prioritize the state budget, ending “wasteful tax give-aways.” The savings would be re-invested in healthcare, education, and communities, particularly rural communities.
“It’s a vision we’re excited to get started on, but we need to bring it home…. It’s important for Iowa that people recognize how important it is and that their vote counts.”
Hart’s running mate, Fred Hubbell, was in Jefferson in April. He has not been here since winning the Democratic nomination in the June primary.