Where Iowa House District 48 candidates stand on key issues in 2022 midterm elections

Incumbent Rep. Phil Thompson faces two opponents in the newly-drawn House District 48: Democrat Penny Vossler, and no party candidate Luke Barnes.

Thompson, 31, was first elected to the Iowa House in 2018. He is running for a third term. Neither Barnes or Vossler have legislative experience.

House District 48 encompasses Boone County, including Boone and Ogden

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

Early voting begins Oct. 19 for the Nov. 8 election.

More: A guide to voter rights in Iowa. What you need to know before you cast a ballot

Who is Luke Barnes?

Age: 22

Party: No party

Where did you grow up? Pella

Current town of residence: Ames

Education: Bachelor's degree

Occupation: Line Service Specialist at Central Iowa Air Service

Political experience and civic activities: Volunteer work largely in the pro-life movement

Who is Phil Thompson?

Age: 31

Party: Republican

Where did you grow up? Rural Jefferson

Current town of residence: Boone

Education: Jefferson-Scranton High School. Attended United States Military Academy at West Point.

Occupation: Contractor

Political experience and civic activities:

  • Currently serving second term as State Representative for House District 47 (Boone and Greene counties).

  • Active member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Freedom Rock Foundation board.

Who is Penny Vossler?

Age: 66

Party: Democrat

Where did you grow up? Montana

Current town of residence: Boone

Education: Bachelor of Science in Math, Master of Science in Space Studies, Master of Science in Geographic Information Systems

Occupation: GIS Coordinator for Boone County

Political experience and civic activities:

  • Chair, Boone County Democrats.

  • 13 years as a volunteer EMT.

  • Member of Boone County's Local Emergency Response Planning Committee.

  • Chair, Iowa GIS Information Council.

  • Steering committee, Mid-American Regional GIS Consortium.

What would be your top issue should you be elected?

Barnes: Implementing a ranked-choice voting system in Iowa.

Thompson: Businesses of all sizes are facing unprecedented worker shortages. As a state, we should be partnering with employers, school districts, community colleges, and universities to streamline education pipelines for the high-demand jobs that exist in our local economies.

I also want to continue to tackle specific obstacles keeping Iowans out of the workforce, like access to affordable childcare and rural housing shortages, to help Iowa remain the best place to live, work, and raise a family.

Vossler: Fully funding education is essential — it has been underfunded for over a decade. Alongside this issue is the ongoing attack on human rights! Women's rights to their own bodies, voting rights, workers' rights, every human in Iowa has been under assault by recent legislatures. I am proud to be the candidate in this race endorsed by the ISEA, AFL-CIO, and UAW — who all believe that I will put PEOPLE OVER POLITICS.

Iowans are struggling with rising costs and inflation. What can the state do to help them make ends meet?

Barnes: Inflation is difficult to deal with on the state level as it is largely a federal issue. However, rising costs can be partially alleviated through policies that lower sales taxes or lower the costs of essentials like energy. I am in favor of increasing nuclear power production in Iowa, which would lower energy costs in the state significantly, by taking the grid off of the more volatile fossil fuel market.

Thompson: We can start by not piling more financial burden onto Iowans. I believe the best stewards of our resources are the families that worked hard to create them. While the federal government continues to attempt to spend us out of economic distress, our state budgeting practices have allowed us to provide tax relief to all Iowans. We need to continue to budget responsibly and look for more opportunities to provide tax relief at all levels of government.

Vossler: A livable minimum wage would be a great first step. Providing preschool for all 3 and 4-year-olds (thus removing some daycare costs from a family's budget) would allow parents who cannot find or afford daycare to enter the workforce. We should continue the Covid policy of free student meals, invest in affordable housing and reduce the costs of prescription drugs by cracking down on profiteering by drug companies. Rolling back tax breaks for corporations and the super-wealthy would ease the property tax burdens of all homeowners.

What do you believe Iowa’s abortion policy should be? Do you think abortion should be banned entirely? Do you think Iowa should have no restrictions? If you believe there should be some restrictions, please be specific about the restrictions and the exceptions you support.

Barnes: I am personally in favor of banning abortion in its entirety. I do not make exceptions.

Thompson: It’s important that we recognize that we are talking about two lives any time we legislate abortion policy. I’ve supported reasonable abortion restrictions that consider and protect the life of the mother.

Vossler: I oppose bans, as abortion is a necessary medical procedure used to treat miscarriages and tubal pregnancies (both of which are common pregnancy outcomes). Bans would be a death sentence for many women and girls in Iowa. I believe abortion is a decision that should be made entirely between a woman and her doctor. I do support legislation to dramatically reduce the demand for abortions, such as cheap or free long-term birth control (implants and IUDs) and educating all people about the human reproductive system. These measures are proven to result in far fewer abortions.

What is the best way to improve Iowa’s education system?

Barnes: There are a number of ways to improve Iowa's education system. The first is through support of school choice incentives. Parents ought to be able to send their children to the school that they believe is the best. Second, we ought to reexamine the curriculum of our schools in order to ensure that students are being taught facts, not propaganda. Third, we ought to better vet our teachers so that we may keep bad actors and propagandists out of our classrooms.

Thompson: We need to build a culture that’s focused on innovation, career placement, and active participation in the economy. Our education system should be focused on discovering and developing passions, teaching and honing skills, and actually applying them in the real world.

Vossler: First, fund schools above the rate of inflation. Iowa hasn't kept up with other states, falling from first in the nation to 20th (or lower) because of underfunding. Rather than cutting taxes on businesses, I support putting those billions of dollars into our education system! The current course of removing requirements for the education and training required for teachers will only make the slide to mediocrity happen faster. Second, thank a teacher for their service the same way you would our military, law enforcement, firefighters or emergency responders. All provide a vital service to Iowa and Iowans.

What new laws, if any, do you believe Iowa should pass regarding guns?

Barnes: Iowa is in a good place regarding firearms. If I had to choose new legislation, it would be to further support the right to keep and bear arms by passing a constitutional carry policy. I would like to go further to re-legalize such arms as fully-automatic weapons, however those are restricted on a federal level, and therefore beyond the purview of state office.

Thompson: Iowa is one of six states that does not protect firearm ownership in our Constitution with language similar to the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Iowans have the opportunity to add these protections this fall. It’s my hope that we, as a state, pass and enshrine our right to keep and bear arms with the approval of Ballot Measure 1.

Vossler: First, we need to fully enforce the gun laws we have on the books. Responsible gun owners do not object to a little inconvenience waiting for a background check to complete. They feel it is a fair exchange for the safety of their children. We are required to train in the safe handling of a motor vehicle before being allowed to operate one. These laws were passed because of too many deaths from unsafe motor vehicle operation. It's time to treat guns the same way, and require instruction in the safe handling of firearms before purchase.

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This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Meet Iowa House District 48 candidates running in midterm elections 2022