Candidate forums are important
For many years, the League of Women Voters of Johnson County, as well as leagues across the nation, have held nonpartisan forums for the public and posted candidate questions and responses to our website VOTE411.org. The purpose of the forums and the website is to give equal exposure to all candidates so that voters will be able to make informed votes. In the past, most candidates participated. Today those of one major political party are largely absent, either declining our invitations or not responding at all after many attempts to contact them.
The district voting lines in Iowa have been re-drawn due to the 2020 Census. Many of us will see first-time or unfamiliar candidates on our ballot for the mid-term Nov. 8 election. The League applauds all candidates who have stepped up to run for office and we are open to working with candidates so they are comfortable at our forums.
Forums in Johnson County are open to the public in person and are live-streamed and filmed by local TV stations for rebroadcast. League forums and VOTE411 are ways the public can vet candidates for office. Voters elect their officials and have expectations of them. This includes respecting the audience enough to tell them the issues they consider important and being open with their views on issues that are important to the people they will represent. Officials are “hired” by voters through our election system to do a job. They, and voters, deserve interviews, not just campaign ads before the selection process takes place.
Let the candidates in your district know you want them to participate in nonpartisan forums!
-Paula Vaughan and Miriam Timmer-Hackert, co-presidents, League of Women Voters of Johnson County
No raindrop is responsible for the flood
Many seem to believe that as long as they don’t actively participate in the downfall of democracy, they are not responsible if it falls. This is unfortunately false. Democracy is an invention, like any other; unnatural. It must be maintained or it will decompose.
But it needn’t be everyone’s full-time job to maintain it. For example, I volunteer with the Eastside Democrats for a mere two hours per week. I had the attitude, “If the survival of democracy comes down to me convincing the person behind this door to go vote, then we are already lost,” but I now understand that’s not how it works. Democracy is necessarily a numbers game, not an impact game. Ten people each convincing one person to vote is greater than one person convincing 19 people to vote, because the relief of sharing responsibilities is the central benefit of a democracy.
That said, something is troubling: this is a “deep blue” college town, yet I’m possibly the youngest volunteer (in my 40s). Given the media is flushed with right-wing rage, inviting people to be snide about democracy, it’s not too surprising. But for none of the younger generations to show up is odd.
-Jason Agne, Iowa City
Franken is better candidate for gun reform
While recently talking with a local police officer about gun safety, I mentioned that I had read guns were responsible for 50% of suicides nationally, but 80% in Iowa. The officer grimaced as he said he has seen the face of a suicide victim and the blood on the wall. At home he puts his guns in a locked rack and stores the ammunition in another location.
The officer also said he was not overly concerned when called to a domestic violence scene where a gun was involved. I had a hard time understanding that statement, but I accepted it as an honest difference of opinion between us. At least we agreed on the need for safe storage of guns and ammunition. We had discovered some common ground. Normally that’s what people do in a democracy. They find common ground and develop thoughtful policies accordingly.
U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley refuses to support common-sense gun reform, like expanding background checks and banning assault weapons. The NRA annually gives him an A+ for his legislative record “defending the Second Amendment.” They have also given him over a quarter of a million dollars to help keep him in power. Grassley is not interested in compromise, or in common ground, or in the more than 300 gun-related deaths in Iowa every year. As a three-star admiral, Michael Franken understands more about guns than Grassley ever will or ever wants to. And unlike Grassley, the admiral takes a common-sense approach to solving problems.
-Kyran Cook, Iowa City
Vote no on Public Measure No. 1
This is National Suicide Prevention Month. More than 500 Iowans kill themselves every year. Iowa’s suicide rate is increasing at nearly twice the national average. As a psychiatrist, I have cared for suicidal patients. You must act decisively to protect them from self-harm. One action is to remove guns from the home. This straightforward action saves lives.
Guns are lethal. More than 90% of suicide attempts made with guns are completed. More than 200 of Iowa suicides each year are gun-related. Some states have red flag laws that allow for removal of guns for harm reduction purposes. Iowa does not. Like most other states, Iowa law allows involuntary hospitalization to protect someone from self-harm. Yet Iowa law does not have any provision to temporarily remove guns to prevent someone from shooting themselves!
Public Measure No. 1, supported by the NRA, proposes to amend the state constitution with wording that will make it very difficult to pass red flag laws that can help families keep a suicidal loved one safe. Let’s not approve an unnecessary amendment that ties the hands of legislators trying to pass common-sense gun safety laws.
Please vote no on Public Measure No. 1.
-Paul Pomrehn, Iowa City
Reject false attacks on Kevin Kinney
Kevin Kinney has been an outstanding state senator and we will be well-served by his reelection. His law enforcement and farming background give him a great perspective on what Iowa is and needs.
Kinney’s opponent has recently claimed he betrayed law enforcement and refused to hold rioters responsible. Both are false and flagrant misrepresentations of Kinney’s votes and have no place in political discourse. The so-called “Back the Blue” bill, which Kinney opposed on passage, contains exactly the sort of legislative attempt to look strong by invading constitutionally protected rights to free speech and assembly. Iowa’s laddered criminal mischief statute, graduating penalties based on damage amount, has served us well. Escalating those penalties to the felony level simply because they occurred during a protest is wholly unnecessary overreach.
Please view the claims against Kinney as the worst kind of political attack and vote to reelect him.
J. Patrick White, retired Johnson County attorney