Much of the story from Monday nightâ€™s forum between current Polk County Sheriff Bill McCarthy and Sheriff Candidate Dan Charleston occurred in the final minutes where, by any reasonable standard, Bill McCarthy crossed the line from aggressively campaigning to keep his jobâ€”to down-right personal slander.Â We will get to that in due time, but first here is a quick re-cap of the event and the many defining differences between these two men that are at the core of this simmering race.
The forum was held in the North High School auditorium, where a large crowd left only the back few rows of seats empty, and was put on by a consortium of neighborhood groups called the â€œDes Moines Neighborsâ€.Â The forum was very well run and to say interest in this Sheriffs race around Polk County is high would be an understatementâ€”I have attended several high-profile legislative forums and debates which had a fraction of the crowd that Mondayâ€™s event had.
The mood of the audience and the two candidates onstage throughout the evening could be best described as â€œtenseâ€â€”before exploding in the final minutes during Sheriff McCarthyâ€™s closing statement.Â While Dan Charleston kept his tone firm and relatively respectful, Bill McCarthy was repeatedly and openly condescending, dismissive, and at times insulting.Â While obviously there is no love lost between the two, McCarthyâ€™s conduct and attitude from the beginning stood out as being unprofessional and wholly unnecessary.Â Now that the scene is set and you have an idea of the atmosphereâ€”letâ€™s move onto the substance.
These two candidates see eye-to eye on very little, and the disagreements fit into two clear categoriesâ€”1) internal department policy, and 2) what essentially amounts to political issues.
The internal department issues at hand concern promotion practices, the size and distribution of the force, and the additional $5 charge that Sheriff McCarthy has added on to the cost of receiving gun permits.Â Since these issues are mainly known only to department employees and their friends and family we will not cover them in detail.Â A brief summation is that Dan Charleston strongly believes the department is too top-heavy, that the promotion policy is being dealt with unfairly, and that the additional charge on gun permits should be removed.Â In terms of the departmentâ€™s staff allocation, Charleston has made it clear he would remove several supervisory positions and replace them with more patrols and more â€œboots on the groundâ€.Â Obviously, since he is in charge of the department currently, McCarthy largely supports these things as they are.
The Political Issues
Lacking theÂ time to reasonably go into each in detail, what follows is a surface level look–largely in their own word–at the top three hot-button issues the two candidates sparredÂ over on this evening.
1) Illegal Immigration
Sheriff McCarthy â€“ After being coy by saying he would â€œlike to see some changesâ€ in this area, though failing to mention any, he summarized his position by saying, â€œLocal law enforcement, despite the lies you hear on the radio month after month, are not empowered to arrest people who are undocumentedâ€”or what you would call â€œillegalâ€.â€Â He then went on to make the case that if illegal aliens are arrested we would only â€œfill our jailsâ€.
Dan Charlestonâ€”Clearly Charleston would be tougher on enforcement and he referenced the oath he took both in the military and in the Sheriffâ€™s Department to â€œprotect and serveâ€.Â He went on to say, â€œWhen the coyotes bring these guys over here in two days for $1,500 it doesnâ€™t mean we turn a blind eye to it and let everything they want to do with the cartels and the gangs we have right here in Des Moines just happen.Â It means you have a duty to protect and serve the citizens you were elected by.â€
2)Â Traffic Cameras
Sheriff McCarthyâ€”Supports both the concept and the expansion of Automated Traffic Enforcement, and made the point that it costs the department nothing up front for the companies to come in and set the systems up.Â He called the Constitutional arguments against them misleading and summarized his position by saying, â€œI want to give these (the cameras) a shot, and I hope they save some lives.â€
Dan Charlestonâ€”Strongly opposes the concept and practice mainly on 6th Amendment â€œface your accuserâ€ grounds, and also for the fact he believes it is a ploy to generate more revenue.Â He concluded his answer with, â€œIf it was a safety issue why do they let you go 11 mph over the speed limit?…Iâ€™m sure people would rather have a patrolman out there than a camera taking pictures of them.â€
3)Â Stand Your Ground
Sheriff McCarthyâ€”Does not support the legislation largely because it takes discretion away from the officers and gives it to the County Attorney.Â He then added, â€œItâ€™s not good legislation, on the surface it looks goodâ€¦but letâ€™s not give people a free hand to be violent and mean-spirited to others.â€
Dan Charleston–Â When asked,Â “Would you support Stand Your Ground legislation?”, Charleston simply answered, “Yes I would.”
*****To read more from Dan Charleston checkout his “3 Questions with The Conservative Reader:Iowa” from earlier this year*****
Dave Edwards is the Republican candidate for Iowa Senate District 16, the vast majority of which covers Des Moines and then swings Southeast to include Pleasant Hill.
While there is no getting around the fact that this is a Democrat stronghold (they haveÂ double the number of registered voters), if any RepublicanÂ can win this district it is most certainly Dave Edwards.Â What makes this race one of the most fascinating in the state this year is that Mr. Edwards is a blue collar, union member who is bringing the fight to Democrats on their turf.Â He is challenging an incumbent who has already been in the Iowa Senate for 18 years (and was in the Iowa House before that), and few would argue that this particular district is better off than it was two decades ago.
Besides knowing these neighborhoodsÂ well, I have seen Mr. Edwards speak on multiple occasions and can tell you first hand that his style and message will resonate.Â He has displayed courage both by stepping up to run, and by being willing to talk about illegal immigration, which is such an obvious problem that most are scared to talk about.Â Republicans who live in or near this district need to return the favor, and can do so by visiting his website (click here), and getting involved to any extent possible.
As you will see below, his answers are extremely thoughtful, spot-on, and the case he is making to traditional Democrats is very convincing.Â The age-old notions of the Republican Party that persist in this part of Des MoinesÂ certainly present a challenge, but there is no reason that a message of less government, fewer taxes, and more liberty can’t take root in districts like SD 16.
Simply put, Dave Edwards is the right candidate at the right time to be this messenger.Â Should he win, the more “buttoned-up” folks at the State House (including Republicans) would be wise to listen to him…but for now lets just hope the voters in his district are truly listening to him.
1) Being a blue collar, union member Republican running in a heavily Democratic district makes you and your race one of the most unique in the state. Briefly tell us how your campaign is going, and if you are finding folks in your district receptive to the different political solutions you are offering? If so, which ones are resonating?
The campaign is going great. I have talked to literally thousands of people over the last year or so. In my job as a union laborer, I drive a truck all around the city during the day. I have the opportunity to interact with Republicans and Democrats alike. I have grown to understand that the issues we face, we face as Iowans, and not as Democrats or Republicans. The economic hardships that are facing the people of this state are affecting us all – not just one party or the other.
I am talking to all the voters in this district when we are door knocking. Naturally, when I knock on a democratâ€™s door, they are reluctant to talk to me when they find out Iâ€™m a republican. But as we talk, they begin to see that my message is not one of partisan politics. My goal is to be the voice of the working people of this state. I want to work to make Iowa a state where business can thrive and where our citizens can earn a living wage. The legislature shouldnâ€™t be burdening the people of this state with more regulations, and definitely shouldnâ€™t be adding any new taxes, when people canâ€™t pay their bills or feed their families. These are messages that are resonating with the residents of my district.
2) As you are out door knocking and talking to voters, what are the top few issues weighing on the minds of the people in your district? And what are they saying they want done about them?
People in my district are definitely concerned about the economy and their job security. They want to be able to go to work every day, and at the end of the week, have something to show for it. My top priority as a senator will be to alleviate the tax burden on the working people and the businesses of this state.
Iowa is one of the 10 lowest-ranked states in Tax Foundationâ€™s 2012 State Business Tax Climate Index. The ranking is arrived at by looking at all the taxes levied in a state. Iowa is known for high corporate tax rates, high property taxes, high individual income tax rates and high unemployment insurance tax rates – all of which are taken into account in arriving at this poor ranking. That is a very sad state of affairs. The fact that we need to offer tax incentives to get businesses to come to this state speaks volumes about Iowaâ€™s tax climate. Letâ€™s get rid of the incentives and lower Iowaâ€™s total tax burden. If we improve the tax climate in Iowa, we create more jobs and people have more money to spend, thereby improving the quality of life for all Iowans.
Another issue on the minds of the people of my district is illegal immigration. They want the problem dealt with. I believe the existing immigration laws of this state and this nation should be enforced. The illegal workforce here is driving down wages, and placing an extraordinary burden on Iowaâ€™s social safety net . Recently, I have been sharing my belief that the illegal immigrant population in this state is being held in bondage. They are forced to take low-wage jobs with unscrupulous employers who donâ€™t care about the safety of their workers. Because of their low wages, they are forced to live in low-rent housing under sub-standard living conditions and because of their immigration status, they feel they do not have the freedom to report these conditions .This issue is pitting the working class citizens of this state against the immigrant population. But the real problem here is the governmentâ€™s failure to enforce its own laws.
3) Assuming you are victorious in November and get sworn into the Iowa Senate, what are the three votes that you most look forward to casting, and why?
I have vowed to introduce a bill on day one of the session that will outlaw traffic enforcement cameras. We have got to put a stop to government intrusion into areas where it doesnâ€™t belong, starting with traffic cameras. These cameras are an infringement of privacy and violate due-process laws. The citizens of this state have shown overwhelmingly that they are against these cameras. The fact is, they donâ€™t improve safety. They are being used as a revenue source for municipalities.
Another vote I am looking forward to casting is one in favor of across-the-board property tax reform. This will be a good starting point towards making Iowa more attractive for business and giving our economy a much-needed jump-start.
Lastly, when the republicans gain control of the senate this fall, I really look forward to the opportunity to vote for a new senate majority leader to replace Michael Gronstal!
While much of the attention and focus when we head out to vote in November will be on the various partisan political races on the ballot, residents of Polk County will have another very important decision to make–who will be guiding the law enforcement efforts that protect us.
Though it may surprise many, the reason this is important is that some very basic laws on the books are being relegated to the back burner by current Sheriff Bill McCarthy–who has instead decided that the crack down we need is on those breaking the speed limit.Â While manyÂ living in the suburbs are unaware, not all places in Polk County are as safe as the neighborhoods most of us live in.Â The emphasis and aggressiveness in enforcing current law is vitalÂ to improving our safety, protecting our rights,Â and stamping out problems before they become out of control and directly threatening.
Opposing Sheriff McCarthy this November is Dan Charleston.Â I would encourage all of you to take a minute and visit his website – Charlestonforsheriff.com – where he goes into detail on the many hot-button issues that are on the table and how he would approach his law enforcement duties in general.
He was kind enough recently to answer some questions forÂ The Conservative Reader: Iowa–mainlyÂ focusing onÂ the impact a new Polk County Sheriff could have if he is elected in November.Â Here is what he had to say:
Should you defeat Bill McCarthy in November, what are the top three things that the citizens of Polk County would notice a change in?
Honoring the Oath of Office and ensuring the protection of individual rights as laid out in the USÂ Constitution and Bill of Rights, will be the first priority when elected Sheriff.Â We will lead together with innovative ideas and solutions to better serve our community.Â This will restore faith, hope, and the belief that there is a better future for our families and our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The Polk County Sheriffâ€™s annual budget is over sixty million dollars. The 2011-2012 budgets will bring a mandatory cut of more than 2.5million dollars.Â There are many ways to accomplish this:Â retirements, reallocation of top management positions to line staff, inmate food service, fewer take-home cars for positions which do not require one, alternative work schedules, and management to staff ratios brought within the national average.Â This does not require the loss of staff jobs or a consulting firmâ€™s opinion at taxpayersâ€™ expense.
Recently the Sheriff and board of supervisors voted to allow speed cameras placed in vehicles throughout Polk County.Â I believe this is unconstitutional based on the sixth amendment. I would not allow the use of speed/red light cameras in Polk County and would lead the effort in getting them removed throughout the entire county.
What would your top priorities be on day one, and how would you best describe your managerial and law enforcement philosophy?
I believe the top priority at the Polk County Sheriffâ€™s Office is to restore the morale of the staff.Â There is a lack of faith in the leadership which affects the work ethic and overall attitude of the employees.
I believe in maintaining service before self; doing more with less; providing fiscal transparency, common sense solutions, honesty, accountability, trustworthiness, respect, loyalty, and fairness. I also believe in community and an attitude of service shown to the people whom we serve as law enforcement professionals in Polk County.
I believe a law enforcement organization cannot expect to grow and prosper if the skills of its people do not consistently do so. I believe in leading by example through realistic training, innovative ideas, on-going law enforcement education and common sense solutions when issues arise.
I believe that when we promote great leaders, it affects the work ethic, self- worth and pride of our organization, which will then be apparent to the people we serve.Â I believe Integrity is the most important thing a man or organization can possess, and with it, pride and a humble spirit is shown.
How has the campaign been going?Â Was there one event or occurrence that drove you to run for this office? Name one impact that a high quality County Sheriff can have on a community that might surprise some people?
The campaign has been going outstanding.Â The volunteers, radio, TV, webcasts, house parties, public speaking and parades have been very rewarding and informative.
Having been in the military and worked for Los Angeles Sheriffâ€™s Department, I have been a part of first class organizations. Having this experience gives me better vision to see where Polk County needs improvement in its law enforcement practices.Â Through proactive law enforcement, we can reduce gang activity, drug trafficking, illegal immigration, and unconstitutional speed cameras and lead the way for constitutional carry in this great state of Iowa.
The bedrock of winning elections at every major level of politics is building coalitions of supporters for whom you can count on to head to the polls and cast a vote for you.Â Especially in a country as large and non-monolithic as ours, coalition building on some level is a requirement for victory and often explains why politicians are so willing to speak often, but say very little.
A close look at President Obamaâ€™s effort in this area reveals that he has elevated this process to an art formâ€”but far from art, what he has created is an ugly picture beneficial to himself, but terrible for America.
While the Supreme Courtâ€™s ruling on Thursday to uphold the Affordable Care Act certainly carries the negatives of energizing Republicans and leaving him to defend a tax increase, it is foolish not to acknowledge the potential political windfall that he has unleashed.Â He has managed to cement a new member in his group of coalitionsâ€”a group with millions of potential voters.
As we have discussed here before, for decades the Democrat party in America has used the social safety net and the laws of this country to build a formidable coalition of voters.Â The newest members are the up to 33 million people who will now be guaranteed health insurance by virtue of being a breathing American.Â For the first time in history an American president will be able to say â€˜if you vote Democrat you will have (possibly for free) health insurance, and if you vote Republican you will notâ€™, a potent motivator.
The addition of the health care voter coalition can now be added to the two others that he has bolstered recently, in what may be the most cynical and politically motivated two months in American presidential history.
First it was going on record with the news that he had â€œevolvedâ€ on the issue and now supports gay marriage. This was followed by a surprise move to essentially remove the possibility of deportation for young illegal aliens.Â While the gay community is relatively small, bolstering his claim to the Hispanic vote was a huge benefit to his Electoral College math.Â Early next week, we will have a story detailing how the health care law really has more to do with sealing up the Hispanic vote than anything else.
Besides the Latino vote, Obamacare allows the Democrat Party to further stack the deck against Republicans as they try to implement the Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid reforms in the Paul Ryan budget over the next few years.Â Top Democrat strategists have to be secretly celebrating, knowing full well that the already difficult politics of reforming these programs just got down right suicidal now that 16 million more people have been added to the rolls.
The Presidents relentless coalition building will continue from now until November.Â With the economy not in position to rebound at all, and the two major initiatives of his Presidency either unpopular (health care) or ineffectual (the stimulus), he really has no other choice.Â I am predicting that sometime in the next few months he will make a shocking public policy jester to the unions, who remain the last sizeable group he has not tried to directly entice.
Though it goes against the grain, at this point I would consider advising Mitt Romney to not moderate on illegal immigration and stay as far right on this issue as he was during the presidential primary.Â The reasons for this are several.
First, it is the law and the right thing to doâ€”we simply cannot be the only nation on earth that doesnâ€™t enforce its borders.Â Though many are quick to forget it, this is a message that resonates with nearly all Republicans, and millions of Independents.Â Second, there is simply no way for Republicans to match what Democrats can offer.Â While Republicans and Latinos have large overlaps in religious beliefs and family values, Democrats are in essence offering citizenship, free or nearly free health care, and an ever-expanding web of financial assistance that delivers from birth to death.
It may be high time to face the factsâ€”winning over the Hispanic community is not going to happen anytime soon, and the more Republicans bend and soften on these issues the more they enrage fellow Republicans and appear hypocritical to Independents.
The irony here is that many of the Republicans who have been hesitant to support Mitt Romney, largely due to their belief that he tries to be all things to all people, are the same people that are urging him to cow tow to the Hispanic vote and moderate his position on illegal immigration.
There are still tens of millions of Americans who still believe strongly that we are a nation of laws.Â Should Mitt Romney take a stand on this issue and add this too often ignored group to his list of coalitions, it may end up being a net positive in November.
The post Healthcare Fallout: Obamaâ€™s Growing List of Coalitions appeared first on The Conservative Reader.
In a Representative Democracy, voting for a particular political candidate or philosophy is the most impactful way a citizenry can change their country.Â While the â€œwhoâ€ a person votes for is what actively shapes a Republic, digging into the motivation behind that vote is far more telling, and ultimately reveals far more about ourselves and where we are heading.
As government involvement in Americans day-to-day lives has expanded, the possible motivating factors at play driving each citizens vote has also expandedâ€”and the effects of this have been devastating.Â Boiled down to the most basic level, there are two motivations that influence a political voteâ€”you can vote in what you believe is in the best interest of the country, or you can vote in your own personal interest.
In past generations, before the American government was so deeply involved in the giving business, the vast majority of our population largely had only the best interest of the country as a whole to consider.Â Unfortunately, today nearly half of our citizens have the legitimate option of choosing to vote for their own personal gain at the ballot box.
Not Your Grandfatherâ€™s Democratic Party
Though it sounds crass, the modern day Democratic Party has evolved into a selfish group of constituencies that have something to gain in voting for Democrats and against Republicans.Â While the most obvious entries on the listÂ involve financial assistance from the economic safety netâ€”unending unemployment benefits, housing subsidies, food stamps, Title 19, etc.â€”in recent years this list has grown to include several other things.
Hispanic Americans can now vote Democrat to ultimately allow their friends and relatives who are here illegally become citizens.Â Gay Americans can now vote Democrat to gain the right to marry and the economic advantages that come with it.Â Union members can vote Democrat in order to receive more favorably negotiated salaries and benefits at the bargaining table.Â Those Americans who, for whatever reason, did not have health insurance can now vote a straight Democratic ticket in hopes of retaining it, since they have now been given it.
In large part this massive constituency of selfishly driven voters explains what the mind-boggling national debt has become so out of control.Â Far more than any other issue, not running annual deficits and paying down the national debt are two things that are in the best interest of the countryâ€”and not necessarily in the best interest of each individual American.Â Â The polling data bears this out showing that, even with the national debt north of $16 trillion, only 66% of Democrats cite lowering this number as a major priority.
Contrarians to this line of thinking will make the charge that Republicans vote in their own best interest by voting for politicians who believe in lowering their taxes.Â As usual this charge leaves out one unavoidable factâ€”that the money taken by the government for taxes is earned, and it belonged to the individual in the first place.Â Put simply, voting to keep more of your own money and not giving it away to a largely wasteful entitlement state (especially one with a progressive tax code) is not a greed driven motivationâ€”rather it is a logical one.
What It Means
The selfishly motivated voter is the single biggest reason why European style democracies are self-feeding, self-defeating, unworkable, and unsustainable.Â Yet in spite of the real-time evidence playing out across the Atlantic, a near majority of Americans refuse to change course.Â Increasingly, it is hard not to assume a major reason why American voters are unwilling to do so is that they would be putting themselves out to do so.
The only way to break this cycle is for the Democrat Party to shift away from promising things to an ever-widening group of voters.Â The sad truth though is that they have built a political base only able to stand upright through some combination of deficit spending, large tax increases, and social pandering.Â They have become so politically dependent on various sub-groups that making decisions for the economic good of the country, even if they wanted to, would quickly result in them paying a huge political price and losing elections.
Whenever Americans choose to overlook our national interest and instead vote in favor of their own, neither is well served.
The post In the Age of the Selfish Voter appeared first on The Conservative Reader.