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NDN Election Central Q&A: Democrat Ann Fields

Name: Ann Fields

City: Knoxville

Office sought: Iowa House District 28

Occupation: Retired president of William Penn University

Education: BA in Ag Business; MA in Ag Economics, and PhD in Education & Policy Studies, Iowa State University

Elected offices held: None

1. Reintroduce yourselves to Jasper County voters, and explain why you want to serve in the Iowa Senate.

I am Ann Fields, and I want to put people at the center of Iowa. All my life, I have been a servant leader, serving the community where I live, serving the students who came to be educated and serving my church. I was a farm wife for almost 20 years raising two children on the family farm; I have been poor and I know how to do without; I started college the day after I was 40, and worked my way through college and a divorce. Thanks to a solid Iowa education, I became the first woman president of William Penn University. After I retired, I decided to serve the people of Iowa by running as the Democratic candidate for Iowa House District 28. I want to restore state-run Medicaid, re-establish collective bargaining rights, and make education more affordable.  

2. The privatization of Iowa's Medicaid system has been plagued with administrative issues and created problems for patients and providers seeking reimbursement for services. Do you see a path forward for managed-care, or do you favor a return to the state-run Medicaid system?

I favor returning to our state-run Medicaid system, putting the people of Iowa ahead of private firms who put profit first. Since 49 percent of Medicaid dollars fund the needs of the disabled, they have been hurt disproportionately and they are the ones who need the services to survive. Also, the refusal of payment for services and the tardiness of payments have jeopardized rural hospitals. The Iowa Hospital Association has a well-researched plan to return to a state-run Medicaid system that should carefully be considered and implemented in an orderly manner.

3. Has being on the campaign trail changed or altered your perspective on any one issue? If so, explain.

While knocking on doors, there were two consistent issues: healthcare (discussed above) and education. While my views on education have not been altered (I still believe that collective bargaining must be reinstated and that funding for education, especially higher education, needs to be increased), what became clear is that student debt is a major concern for many people. When elected, I will work my hardest to bring a student debt-forgiveness program which will encourage students to stay in Iowa, work in Iowa, and raise their children in Iowa. I would rather give students debt-forgiveness for student loans instead of giving big companies tax credits.

4. What do you see as the biggest issues facing constituents in your district? If elected, how will you address these issues?

The biggest issues facing my constituents are the privatization of Medicaid, agricultural tariffs, restoration of collective bargaining and adequate funding for education, all addressed above. In addition, poverty is a prevalent issue. In many communities in District 28, the number of children on free or reduced lunches is increasing, demonstrating the increase in more children living in poverty. In Iowa, one out of seven women live in poverty. The answers are complicated but include providing more education, internships, and apprenticeships; providing reduced cost childcare services so that mothers can go to school or work; and increasing the minimum wage (people working full-time still are in poverty).

5. U.S. Tariffs on some imported goods have caused American trading partners, specifically China, to retaliate with counter-tariffs — shrinking markets for Iowa crop and livestock producers. The Des Moines Register reported in September, Iowa farmers could lose $2.2 billion in the trade dispute. What is your position on the Trump Administration's farmer bailout, and what would you tell Washington lawmakers about a potential looming crisis?

I lived through the Farm Debt Crisis of the 1980s when we lost our farm and our way of life, and we weren’t alone. Many young farmers were forced out of farming, and consolidation of farmland started. If the tariffs are continued, the looming crisis could be worse than the 1980s Farm Debt Crisis, squeezing out the remaining young farmers. While I agree that China’s trade policies need revision, the unilateral decision by Trump is not the solution. This unilateral tariff puts 100 percent of the punishment on the American farmer. The bailout is too little too late, especially for southern Iowa farmers whose crops are hit by the drought, so there will be fewer bushels to sell, lower prices, higher repair costs due to the tariffs on steel and aluminum, and the bailout which will not provide adequate compensation. I would tell Washington that the isolationist tariff policies are short-sighted and will hurt farm families.​

6. The first medical cannabis dispensary owned by MedPharm is slated to open this year in Iowa. Do you favor expanding the new medical cannabis law to approve cannabinoid oil for use with more medical conditions? Does Iowa's current law go far enough to allow patients access?

I firmly believe in expanding the medical cannabis law to allow easier access for patients. Cannabinoid oil can be prescribed for many medical problems and can be substituted for opioids, which has caused addiction problems for rural Iowa. Raising cannabis could also be an alternative crop for Iowa farmers.

7. Iowa's total tax revenue increased by 4 percent since July 2017, compared to 1.6 percent growth in the same time period the year prior. That's due to an automatic increase in Iowa tax withholdings after federal income tax cuts. The legislature will be phasing out federal deductibility for 2019 to return revenue increases to normal levels. With Iowa's coffers strained causing mid-year budget cuts, is this still a good strategy? How will this affect public school SSA, funding for mental health and water quality initiatives in Iowa?

In this period of chaos with new federal tax cuts and Iowa tax cuts pushed through during the 2018 session, I have talked with many Iowans in my District who are willing to wait and see and not jump to conclusions about tax revenue. Iowans are pragmatic and are realistic about the uncertainty of revenue and expense balancing by the State. Iowans know that less tax revenue means fewer services provided by the state. They are willing to pay a few more dollars now and not be faced with mid-term budget cuts that especially hurt education (over $11million mid-year cuts to higher education this year and only a 1 percent increase to K-12 education), health care (any change in financing needs to be done during the session, not waiting until the session ends before giving the private Medicaid companies a 7.5 percent increase), and water quality initiatives (not fully funded and not sustainable).   

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