To appeal to voters in House District 28, one of the state’s more rural districts, both candidates have moved away from traditional party planks in an attempt to address issues local voters hold near and dear.
Republican candidate Jon Thorup, a trooper with the Iowa State Patrol and Iowa State Fair, has voiced his support for collective bargaining. His opponent, Anne Fields, the democratic candidate, has been unabashed in her support of the Second Amendment, which gives voters the right to bear arms. Fields, who has a concealed carry permit in the past said she’s emphasized her support of the Second Amendment as she meets with voters.
“I tell people I’m not going to take their guns away,” Fields said. “People have a right to carry, I agree with that 100 percent.”
While both candidates agreed they wouldn’t support a move towards a permitless carry system, they diverged on the issue of proficiency. Under state law Iowans don’t have to demonstrate proficiency in order to obtain a concealed carry permit, a measure Fields said she’s in support of.
“He (Thorup) was going to make it harder to get a concealed carry permit,” Fields said.
Thorup said doesn’t see an issue with required some type of proficiency test in order to obtain a concealed carry permit. His biggest issue is how the state will choose to define exactly what proficiency means. Noting that in the past the state allowed individuals seeking to obtain a concealed carry permit to use a hunter safety classes or past military experience to claim proficiency, Thorup said he’d like to see a clearer definition of what constitutes proficiency.
“That’s something honestly that needs fleshed out a lot more, what’s proficiency and what isn't,” Thorup said. “As far as having a specific score required or a specific training course required I’m less concerned about that sort of thing.”
While his status as an active duty law enforcement officers allows Thorup to carry a concealed weapon, he noted he seldom chooses to carry. During the course of his career with the ISP Thorup said he’s never had to discharge his weapon at another person.
“Like many officers, I’ve had some pretty close calls, but I’ve never had to discharge my weapon at anybody,” Thorup said.
Despite an endorsement from outgoing legislator Greg Heartsill Thorup said he doesn’t feel like he has the advantage in the campaign.
“I think it’s a bad idea for anyone to feel like they have an advantage,” Thorup said.
Fields couldn’t agree more. Despite raising more money than Thorup, she said she’s still approaching her campaign by thinking of herself as the underdog, citing the gap between registered Republicans and Democrats in the district.
“I still feel like I have to get out and knock on doors if I’m going to win,” Fields said.
Perhaps the biggest plank of Thorup’s platform is an increased focus on safety. A 23 year veteran with the Iowa State Patrol, Thorup said he feels the state has decreased its focus on safety. In Marion County, Thorup’s assigned patrol area, there are three state patrol officers and one sergeant assigned to the county, a higher staffing level than most counties have. Even with a staffing level like Marion County has, there are still gaps in coverage, including Marion County, which has no state patrol officers on duty after 3 a.m. in the morning.
“I see us being much less effective than we used to be,” Thorup said. “There’s more fatalities, especially given how many people are playing with their phone these days.”
If elected Thorup said he plans to work towards increasing the state patrol’s budget, he’d like to see Iowa move back towards having the state’s road tax fund used as the primary source of the ISP’s budget, something the state moved away from in the 90’s.
Finding a way to fund those increases, as state administrators grapple with less than expected revenue in the face of tax cuts will be Thorup’s goal if he’s elected. Highlighting a focus on fiscal conservatism, the Knoxville Republican said it’s easy to see examples of government waste. Pointing out the row of desks that line his campaign office in Knoxville, Thorup pointed out that he purchased the desk on www.govdeals.com from a neighboring school district. When the district had extra money left over at the end of the school they opted to upgrade the desks; Thorup scooped them up for a total of $10.75, a far cry from the $3,000 the district spent to replace the desks.
Both candidates have focused on a strategy that involves knocking on as many doors as possible, Fields said she’s even taken her message to Republicans.
“If they tell me I’m a Republican, I tell them I’ll let Republicans vote for me,” Fields said. “If they smile, I keep talking.”
By engaging voters face to face, both candidates said they feel like they’ve got their finger of the pulse of the district; Thorup and Fields both said Medicaid and mental health remain the two biggest issues voters are concerned about. Despite being on opposite sides of the aisle, Thorup and Fields both agree - the state’s move to privatize Medicaid isn’t working.
“I think it was a mistake in retrospect,” Thorup said.
Fields said she’s been in discussion with the Iowa Hospital Association, according to her they’ve developed a plan to move the state’s managed care back in-house, something she believes will improve the quality of care of disabled Iowans. Her opponent said he’s interested in abandoning the state’s privatized care model or moving to a hybrid system that brings some parts of the operation back under state control.
“We can’t keep going down this road,” Thorup said.
Being able to agree on many of the biggest issues facing voters this November has meant both candidates have run a remarkably civil campaign, something they both set as a goal. After their primary victories, Fields and Thorup agreed to run on issues alone, a promise they’ve both kept. They’ll square off for their first debate this month, meeting September 12 at the Knoxville Hall of Fame for their first debate, which will be moderated by the Marion County Reminder. In the spirit of civility Thorup has hung a portrait for former Iowa Governor Bob Ray on the wall of his campaign office in Knoxville.
“Politics is pretty divisive right now, I think most people, whether they agree or disagree with what Bob Ray did, they believe he tried to do the right thing,” Thorup said. “Maybe a little of that will rub off.”
Contact David Dolmage at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or firstname.lastname@example.org