Chris Hagenow is the winner in Iowa House District 43 after today’s recount. Â The official recount results are: Hagenow: 8,742; Judkins: 8,719; write-ins: 17. Â 17,478 votes were counted. Â The recount resulted in one additional vote for Hagenow from the unofficial count on election day.
The recount was requested by Democratic challenger Susan Judkins after the official results showed that she lost by a 22 votes against incumbant candidate Chris Hagenow. Â Both candidates are well known within the district and in the only public forum held with both candidates, there was limited differences in responses to questions from both. Â The district includes Clive, Windsor Heights and parts of West Des Moines. Â Representative Hagenow has represented the area (with some changes from recent redistricting) for the past 4 years.
Thanks to Jamie Fitzgerald for providing the numbers this morning!
On October 24, I had the opportunity to sit in on my district’s House Candidate Forum held at the Windsor Heights Community Center. Â The event was well attended and the audience was very cordial and appreciative of the candidates. Â Chris Hagenow (website), a Republican lawyer who currently represents the district, and Susan Judkins (website), a Democrat who currently works as aÂ Community Development Specialist for MSA Professional Services.
Both candidates were very gracious to each other, and seemed well informed on issues that were important to those in the audience. Â The format of the evening was to simply give each candidate 2 minutes to respond to questions provided by the audience.
The candidates were given an opportunity to provide opening comments. Â Both provided background and expressed an interest in working with members of the House on both sides of the aisle. Â Susan was a Republican until 2003, and considers herself a fiscal conservative. Â Chris shared his satisfaction over this past session’s success in providing a balanced budget.
I won’t cover the whole session blow-by-blow, but note a few key thoughts.
Both candidates tended to provide answers that were similar in nature around priorities and needs in the state. Â It was clear that they both understood what is on the minds of the voters in District 43. Â The cordiality was both pleasant after watching the presidential debates, and a bit discouraging as finding real differences was a challenge. Â Chris and Susan both were quick to say clearly that they agreed with each other on many topics. Â They both see the Economy, Education and Property Tax Reform as key areas to work with members of both parties for success. Â Small Business growth is clearly a focus of success in both candidates’ minds.
One of the best ways to see their differences can be found in how they each want to deal with Property Tax Reform. Â Chris wants to roll back rates. Â Susan wants to maintain the rates but provide an income tax credit up to a certain value. Â As a result, the spending at the local level continues as before, but now being subsidized by the State. Â If local taxes are too high, then Susan’s solution just pushes the problem up a level of government, but doesn’t really solve the problem, especially if it is felt everywhere in Iowa. Â (I personally disagree with the State stepping in and telling local communities how much tax they can collect, and more-so having the state subsidize the local community. Â The local leaders should be directly accountable to their taxpayers, period.). Â I’m impressed that Susan is considering an idea to try to compromise on this issue.
Another example, also related to taxes, is when asked about the Gas Tax, Susan also expressed an interest in raising it, and Chris said “No”.
When asked about funding for libraries, the self-proclaimed fiscal conservative expressed an interest in using the existing surplus in the State Treasury to provide additional money for libraries. Â This is a type of comment to watch for. Â We’re talking about funding something that is slowly becoming less and less important to society, and will likely never recover because everything is going digital. Â Yes, even in the digital age we are seeing ways to continue using the community lending model, which I applaud, but I don’t see the need for state funding to subsidize libraries any longer. Â If a community wants to provide this service, they can raise the money locally. Â The surplus (this is money beyond the Rainy-day Fund) needs to be returned to the tax payers, not be thrown at non-existent problems.
Unfortunately, this thinking exists across both parties. Â Just because the revenue has been gathered doesn’t make it the property of the State leaders to squanderÂ frivolously. Â It belongs to the people, and should be returned to the people as soon as possible.
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On this same evening, I happened to run into Desmond Adams (along with Michael Libbie, whom I’ve known for a couple of years now) for the first time. Â Desmond is on the ballot in my district for the Senate seat that was held by Pat Ward, but for which a special election is now planned due to Pat’s death. Â I’ve heard this from others, but meeting Desmond convinced me that he will be a formidable candidate and would have made Pat’s campaign a challenge if she had not passed. Â Desmond gave me his door-knocking speech, and we had a brief discussion about fiscal matters of the State. Â He, similarly to Susan, would like to see the State’s surplus put to some use, but he definitely comes across as a moderate Democrat with a desire to see the State address opportunities for efficiency while meeting the needs of individuals. Â I’m very impressed with hisÂ demeanorÂ and some of his ideas, which brings me back to the fact he is a compelling candidate. Â This will be a short campaign (Republicans select their candidate this Thursday evening, and the election is on December 11). Â Whomever is selected to run against Desmond will need to be ready to make an equally compelling case. Â This may be a more heavily Republican district, but I expect Desmond will make this a hard battle.
Monday is the first day of the 2010 session of the Iowa Legislature. Â Over the past month or so I’ve had an opportunity on my internet radio show The Conservative Reader Report to discuss the upcoming session with a few local Republican House Members, including Peter Cownie, Erik Helland, and Chris Hagenow. Â All of them had the same message we’ve been hearing via the press: this year’s session will be about the Budget.
These Republicans also stated their support for giving Iowan’s the right to vote for a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage, despite the fact that it appears unlikely such an opportunity will exist in the 2010 session. Mike Grandstall has already stated that he will not allow a bill that will define marriage as one man and one woman. Â The liberal media is all about calling it discriminatory and that it is “against same-sex marriage”, but the biggest furor should be over one simple thing: Democrats being “against” Â the right of Iowans to vote on this important issue. Â It is ironic that the Democratic Party, the supposed party of “Yes”, is now the party of “No”. Â And this on something less trivial than the typical money spending that Republicans typically try to stop, but on a most fundamental right of Iowans, and clearly desired by a majority of Iowans, to vote on this issue directly. Â Instead, the majority party chooses to abrogate the rights of Iowans.
Also on the table are potential opportunities to bring back some labor union priorities, Fair Share apparently being on top of the Governor’s list (he and other Dems owe the unions a lot, and they have not done much to deliver so far). Â Other priorities include Prevailing Wage, and Doctor Shopping.
Getting back to the budget, it was encouraging to see today’s Des Moines Register editorial recommending, along with “preserving healthcare for low-income Iowans”, among other things, that the Legislature take a hard look at Tax Credits and consolidation, but most important:
“…the discussion also should include suggestions about what state government can do without…”
How long can it take to figure this one out? Â And the Register even made some good suggestions:
“…the Power Fund? Economic-development programs? Services that could be turned over to private contractors?”
And they said, (gasp!) that schools would have to get by with less!
This is certainly a start. Â Perhaps the approach that the Editors are seeking is to “make a list and lets see what we can drop to get the budget balanced”. Â The notion that budgeting is a hard process involving a balance between what we can afford and what we want is the unfortunate result of coveting what others have. Â Greed and selfish desire drive this kind of thinking.
Unfortunately, our current legislature and administration’s thinking about the role of government is that it exists to make sure everyone gets their share of the pie… that everything that has ever looked like a legitimate government service or department must be viable. Â Try to stuff everything into a bag, and then pull out a few odds and ends to make it fit the budget.
The typical conservative view is that government exists to address the real needs of the people that cannot be filled by individuals and business or non-profits. Â Life (defense, security, emergency services), liberty (justice, rule of law), and property/pursuit of happiness (infrastructure, free-market capitalism). Â Most of what government needs to address can be fit in these categories. Â Some would say that anything on top of that is optional. Â But why should they be optional? Â All that does is promote the idea that there is a government trough available at least in good times, and as we’ve seen, also in bad times.
Our government should stop spending money on things that that the government simply does not need to be doing and can instead be done by business, non-profits and individuals on their own. Â Instead, our government will continue to bloat because everyone seeks the opportunity for free money from the government. Â What is needed is real discipline.
And don’t believe that your taxes won’t get raised… as long as the Legislature is unable to bring spending down to an appropriate level they will need to find ways to “raise revenue”… that is, raise taxes.
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I might take some heat for this. Â I agree that the NRA recommendations for changes to Iowa handgun laws would be beneficial to the citizens of the state, and I hope we can get them brought through the legislative process soon. Â However, I also agree with the Register that in 2010, this will simply be a distraction. Â And in 2010, with a Democratically controlled Assembly, we probably won’t see it pass anyhow. Â It would be best to wait until 2011 when the balance of power is likely to shift back to the right a bit.
However, I don’t take the same position on the Marriage Amendment. Â It would not hurt to allow this to hit the floor and get discussed and voted on in both houses this year… it will still need to be approved in the 2011 session before it can go to the voters. Â Delaying it a year does only that… delays it. Â The sooner the people of Iowa have an opportunity to vote on this the sooner we can put it behind us.
I’m also glad to see the Register continue to argue for transparency. Â I don’t think that either party historical has a corner on promoting more open government, but Republicans have tried last year to get some good legislation through to ensure the public would have easy access to information about what our government is doing, but was rejected by the Majority. Â It really is time to open the doors and make the data available to all.
Join us this Tuesday (January 5) from 3:00 to 5:00 Central for The Conservative Reader Report on Des Moines’ only completely local and live internet talk radio station: Des Moines Local Live! This week’s guests are:
John Bloom, Chair of the Polk County Republican Party. Â John will bring us the latest updates on the 2010 caucus preparations, an overview of the relevant major political events of 2010, an update on activities in the Republican Party in Polk County, and will answer your questions.
Chris Hagenow, Iowa House member from District 59 (West Des Moines, Windsor Heights and Clive). Â He willÂ talk about the 2010 legislative session, issues that are important to you today in Iowa, and thoughts about the 2010 elections… and he’ll answer your questions as well.
We’ll have updates on the political news that’s important to you, along with the Smart and Dumb politicians of the week.
Only on The Conservative Reader Report.
This week’s newsletter from Peter Cownie provides some insight into some of his goals as a legislator.Â Helping keep young people in Iowa after they graduate from high school and/or college has been a challenge in recent decades.Â Reasons for the large numbers of youth leaving the state range from financial opportunity to entertainment to lifestyle.Â Ultimately, jobs are key, and attracting young people means attracting companies.Â Peter also looks at ways to promote staying in Iowa for college education.
The best question a citizen can ask a person seeking public office is: why are you doing this? Every candidate should have a passion for what he/she is trying to accomplish and remember that passion each time he/she makes a decision. I was asked this question more than any other during the campaign. My answer is simple: I want to see more young people in Iowa. I grew up in Iowa and I want to do something about the young people that have chosen not to stay here and those that might think to leave in the future.
I serve on the Economic Growth Committee and we recently heard a presentation from the Generation Iowa Commission. I asked the presenter what deters young people from staying in Iowa after college. The answer was one word: jobs. I could not agree more. Young people will go where the best jobs are located. The current economic times will only reinforce this reality. In every decision a legislator makes this session, he/she needs to keep in mind the 80,000 unemployed Iowans and how we can help put them back to work. We also need to bear in mind those young people who want jobs in Iowa.
The Iowa Legislature needs to remember the big picture. The big picture is that Iowaâ€™s population is not growing quickly compared to other states. According to estimates from the Census Bureau for 2000-2008, Iowa ranks 42nd in population growth percentage. I have introduced a bill that will help retain and recruit young people to Iowa. This bill would allow college graduates who stay in Iowa to deduct the interest on student loan payments changing the limit from $2,500 to $5,000 annually. Students in Iowa graduate with the highest debt levels ($26,208 on average) in America. This bill would give direct help to college graduates who are just starting a job and could use the relief in their pocketbook. It is in the best interest of the Iowa Legislature to reach out to our young people and ease their burden. This bill will help keep our young people where we want them: Iowa.
This week’s newsletter also appeared in the West Des Moines section of the Des Moines Register, along with pieces from Pat Ward and Chris Hagenow.Â You may note that Pat hits hard on the Popular Vote bill, which we have opposed here as well.
Peter, Pat and Chris, along with Bob Brownell, also hosted a public forum in West Des Moines on February 28, which I attended.Â More on that later.