Meet the two candidates in Iowa Senate District 14: Mark Hanson and Sarah Trone Garriott

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One Republican and one Democrat are seeking their party's nomination in the June primary election for an Iowa Senate seat in Dallas County.

Sen. Sarah Trone Garriott, D-West Des Moines, is seeking reelection after being elected in 2020 and 2022. She is uncontested for her party's nomination.

Republican Mark Hanson, a member of the Dallas County Board of Supervisors, is the only candidate seeking the Republican nomination.

Iowa Senate District 14 includes Waukee, Adel, Van Meter and parts of West Des Moines and Clive in Dallas County.

To help voters, the Des Moines Register sent questions to all federal and Des Moines area legislative candidates running for political office this year. Their answers have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

The primary election is scheduled for June 4 ahead of the Nov. 5 general election.

More: Early voting has started for Iowa's June 4 primary election. Here's what you should know:

Who is Mark Hanson?

Mark Hanson
Mark Hanson

Age: 67

Party: Republican

Where did you grow up: I grew up in Rosemount, Minnesota, a small town just 15 miles south of the Twin Cities. My Iowa connection began when I met my wife, an Iowa native and Dallas Center-Grimes school alum. We met while living in California but chose to build a life in Iowa because of the great public schools, safe communities, strong economic opportunities and exceptional quality of life.

Current town of residence: Waukee

Education: I graduated cum laude from Minnesota State University at Mankato with a bachelor's degree and also earned a Certified Association Executive (CAE) certification from the American Society of Association Executives.

Occupation: For the past 19 years, I have served as county supervisor for the Dallas County Board of Supervisors representing the citizens of Dallas County. I also have served as executive director for the Iowa Association of Area Agencies on Aging, vice president of membership for the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, and as an association executive with Smith Bucklin in Chicago and Los Angeles.

Political experience and civic activities: I have had the honor of being elected Dallas County supervisor since 2005, helping lead the county through extraordinary growth. Dallas County remains one of the fastest growing, best-managed counties, and the county property tax remains among the lowest in the state. I serve on the boards of the Metropolitan Planning Organization, Greater Dallas County Development Alliance, Dallas County Historical Preservation Commission, New Opportunities, and North Raccoon River Watershed Management Coalition. I am also a member of Lutheran Church of Hope, serving as a Hope Kids youth leader since 2004.

Who is incumbent Sarah Trone Garriott?

Sarah Trone Garriott
Sarah Trone Garriott

Age: 45

Party: Democrat

Where did you grow up: I grew up in Cloquet — a small town in northern Minnesota

Current town of residence: West Des Moines

Education: Bachelor's degree in history, 1999, The College of St. Scholastica; Master of Theological Studies, 2003, Harvard Divinity School; clinical pastoral care residency, 2005, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital; Master of Divinity, 2008, The Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.

Occupation: Ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, serving as coordinator of interfaith engagement for the Des Moines Area Religious Council Food Pantry Network. I provide education about poverty and food insecurity, work with the diverse religious communities of the Des Moines metro to build relationships and understanding, preach and lead worship at congregations throughout Iowa.

Political experience and civic activities:

  • Engaged parent of two public school students

  • Elected to serve in Iowa State Senate in 2020, 2022

  • Senate committees: commerce, education, health and human services (ranking member), natural resources and environment, rules and administration

  • State boards and commissions: Child Care Advisory Committee, Council on Health and Human Services, Human Rights Board, Mental Health and Disability Services Commission

  • Clinical Pastoral Education Professional Advisory Group, 2019 to present

  • Board of Directors Luther Park Senior Living Community, 2015-2019

  • Dean of Southeastern Iowa Conference of ELCA, 2015-2017

What would be your top issue should you be elected?

Hanson: Iowans can count on me to work hard on issues that people care about. My No. 1 priority is helping Iowa families and ensuring the state continues to provide a promising future for future generations. I will advocate for policies to strengthen Iowa’s educational system, economy and way of life. We need to ensure our schools are strong, teachers valued, tax burdens reduced, communities safe and we have improved access to health care, mental and behavioral health services and step up support for Iowa seniors. Most importantly, I will listen to all Iowans, deliver on their priorities and serve as their voice.

Trone Garriott: Public education: Iowa needs legislators who will listen to parents, students, educators and staff so that we can craft policy to support thriving schools and dedicate the funding necessary to ensure excellent education.

What policies would you support to improve Iowa’s education system?

Hanson: Education is the bedrock of our communities and the cornerstone of a thriving economy. The quality of Waukee schools was a top reason we moved to Waukee to raise our family nearly 24 years ago. As the son of educators, I care deeply about the quality of education in Iowa and believe supporting our schools is paramount for the betterment of all children and communities. I will champion education through supporting policies to reduce class sizes, improve student achievement, reward great teachers and ensure children in Iowa have the best opportunity in the nation to learn and thrive.

Trone Garriott: Make funding public schools the priority for our state again. For 10 years we have seen increases that fall below rising costs, resulting in an effective cut each year to our public schools. As a result, school districts have not been able to pay competitive salaries for educators or staff, class sizes are increasing and programs are being cut. Restore funding to the Area Education Agencies. The governor's AEA bill has already harmed valuable services for our public schools, forcing cuts to services and leading to mass resignations of talented AEA staff. As one of my Republican colleagues said, "No one wanted this bill," and next year the Legislature can fix the mess it has created.

What do you think Iowa’s tax policy should be? Do you believe the state’s priority should be on lowering rates or spending on services for Iowans?

Hanson: As a state, we must continue looking for ways to help Iowa’s working families and give Iowans tax relief, while also advancing policies that create jobs, foster quality schools, create better access to mental health services and support public safety and law enforcement. I am committed to policies that ensure Iowa is the best place to live, work and raise a family. We must make Iowa more competitive by enacting property tax reform to keep families in the state and attract new businesses to start or relocate here.

Trone Garriott: Iowa's tax policy needs to be fair. In recent years we have seen cuts that benefit the wealthy and corporations the most, shifting the burden to the Iowans who can afford it least. Working families like mine haven't seen any noticeable benefit of recent tax policies, but we do see our local schools struggling, roads and bridges falling apart, public safety understaffed, rivers and lakes untouchable, and costs for everything from food to housing to health care increasing. Our state can better pay for vital services if tax cuts are targeted to those who truly need the relief.

What policies would you support to improve school safety in Iowa?

Hanson: I will prioritize school safety and work toward additional measures to address security at schools across Iowa. This includes policies for greater mental health support, building upgrades, threat assessment, safety plans and incident command drills. I encourage continued taskforce collaboration between parents, educators, school leaders, law enforcement, Iowa Department of Public Safety, Department of Education and Homeland Security/Emergency Management to further improve safety and security standards of schools. Nothing is more important than Iowa students and teachers having a safe environment. One of the government’s constitutional mandates is the safety and security of our people.

Trone Garriott: Our schools need mental health resources in the building to prevent violence before it happens and flag concerns before it's too late. It's time to ensure that there are more caring, skilled adults in schools to give students the support and interventions they need. With nearly $3 billion in surplus, our state has the resources to increase the number of mental health providers in public school buildings.

What next steps do you believe the Iowa Legislature should take when it comes to abortion?

Hanson: This is a sensitive issue that requires compassion and a balanced approach that upholds the rights of women and values human life. This encompasses exceptions for women who are faced with heartbreaking decisions, makes IVF treatments available, expands access to women’s health care information, services and contraceptives and enhances the quality and availability of prenatal care services.

Trone Garriott: The next step Iowa legislators should take is to listen to the public and health care providers. We've seen the majority pass legislation on reproductive health care and abortion that do not include accurate medical terms. Iowa has the fewest OB-GYNs statewide and legislation that threatens a physician's ability to provide standard of practice patient care is making the problem worse. This year families undergoing IVF watched in horror as an extreme personhood bill moved forward, threatening a life-giving medical procedure. Iowans overwhelmingly support access to birth control, yet we have not seen legislation to protect or improve access. It's time for legislators to listen and do better.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Mark Hanson, Sarah Trone Garriott running in Iowa Senate District 14