DUBUQUE COUNTY, Iowa (KWWL) – Candidates are nearing the end of their midterm campaign and we spoke with the two women running for the District 99 seat of the Iowa House of Representatives.
With Abby Finkenauer in the U.S. Representative race against incumbent Congressman Rod Blum, both candidates are new to the seat.
District 99 covers much of the south and west ends of Dubuque, an area seeing a boom in growth.
Chilton is a current member of the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce and active in civic organizations. She is a broker associate in the real estate business.
James serves on elected city and county boards such as the Dubuque Development Advisory Commission. She is an ordained Presbyterian college chaplain.
Both candidates said keeping Iowa’s legacy of good education is key.
“If we are going to give our kids the best chance at life, that means given them a fully funded education,” said James.
James said this means giving the teachers the resources they need by bringing Iowa schools into the 21st century with technology and keeping students in the state after graduation.
“One of the conversations that we need to be having is about recruiting and retaining young people in our city and our state. One way which we do that is provide good jobs, with good wages and the potential to retire with security,” she said.
Chilton said the biggest factor in education is bringing back industrial arts programs.
“While I was in school in Chicago, during that time, vocational programs were being taken out of the high schools,” Chilton said.
The lack of vocationally trained students has led to a workforce shortage she said.
“One of the needs in our state is for a well-prepared workforce. We have companies that have openings for jobs and they don’t have enough people applying for those jobs,” she said.
Each candidate, however, differs on issues they are most passionate about.
For James, it’s the health care system. With both of Dubuque’s hospitals falling into District 99, she said she wants to work to reverse the privatization of Medicaid.
“I sat with a gentleman on his front porch and he said with the rising cost of property taxes and rising costs of prescription drugs in Iowa, he’s diabetic, he’s afraid one day he will have to choose ‘do I keep my house or do I pay for my medication and save my foot?’” said James.
She said companies should not be allowed to profit off chronic health conditions. “When you try to turn a profit on someone who’s health outcome won’t get better, it means the only way to turn a profit is to deny services to that individual or delay reimbursement,” James said.
For Chilton, she said she wants to make Iowa more business friendly by keeping the cost of doing business low.
“The cost of being in business is always a challenge for business owners to make sure they can keep their doors open,” Chilton said, “A restaurant owner can have a great business but if the cost is too high, if the overhead is too high, then that restaurant owner is going to have a tougher time.”
She said hard work should be praised instead of punished. “The harder a person works, the more a person should be rewarded for that. That equality of opportunity is something that I think is to be protected.”
District 99 has been held by a democrat for several terms, but right now Iowa is experiencing what is called a government trifecta. The republicans hold power in the governor’s office, the Senate and the House.