Where the candidates running for Iowa House District 30 stand on education and taxes

ByElizabeth J. Bohn

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Two Democrats are fighting over an open seat to represent Des Moines’ south side at the Iowa Statehouse.

Eddie J. Mauro and Megan L. Srinivas each hope to replace state Rep. Bruce Hunter next year. Mauro runs a Des Moines-based insurance company.  Srinivas is an infectious disease physician who works at Broadlawns Medical Center.

The race is one of 10 competitive primaries in the Des Moines area this June. The winner will face Republican Jerry Cheevers, who is unopposed.

Early voting has already begun in the June 7 primary. Here’s how to vote. 

To help voters, the Des Moines Register sent surveys to every candidate in a competitive primary. The candidate responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity. Candidates appear in alphabetical order by last name.

More: How to vote early in Iowa’s 2022 primary elections from registration to voting locations

Who are the candidates running for Iowa House District 30?

Eddie Mauro

Eddie Mauro

Eddie Mauro 

  • Age: 59

  • Town of residence: Des Moines

  • Party affiliation: Democrat

  • Education: BA in secondary education, Simpson College; certificate of theology, Creighton University

  • Occupation:  Director of Operations at UIG – a Property & Casualty insurance wholesale firm.

  • Previous elected offices held: None

  • Major civic activities: Member of St. Anthony and Christ the King Churches, community organizer on projects dealing with homelessness, mental health and domestic violence. Director of New Frontier Action working on civic engagement, the Purify Project working with clean drinking water in developing countries.

Megan Srinivas

Megan Srinivas

Megan Srinivas

  • Age: 34

  • Town of residence: Des Moines

  • Party affiliation: Democrat

  • Education: Harvard College, AB cum laude in human evolutionary biology; University of Iowa Medical School, MD with teaching distinction track; Harvard School of Public Health, MPH in global health and health policy

  • Occupation: Doctor and public health researcher

  • Previous elected offices held: Iowa State Board of Education appointee

  • Major civic activities: Board Member, Iowa’s National Alliance Against Mental Illness; Executive Committee, Iowa Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission; co-founder, COVID Latino, a nonprofit effort to provide public health information via multilingual animations to overcome racialized health disparities

More: Where the Republican candidates for House District 43 stand on taxes and education

What distinguishes you from your primary opponents?

Mauro: My roots run deep on the South Side. Now more than ever, we need people that are deeply connected to their communities and have their finger on the pulse of what is going on. The radicalization of our politics nationally has moved some people in both parties in extreme directions. Having elected officials at the local grassroots level with deep ties in their communities is important for bridging the divides that keep us apart. Plus, my broad background in education, business, economic development, community organizing and service will be instrumental in representing the vast needs of the South Side community.

Srinivas: As a woman and person of color, my lived experiences reflect a large portion of our state’s population who aren’t adequately represented in the Legislature. As an infectious disease physician specializing in health policy, health equity and social determinants of health, and sexual and reproductive health research, I bring professional expertise my opponent cannot. There is not a single physician in our legislature. When health care is one of the largest portions of our annual budget, we are emerging from a pandemic, and health rights are decided by state legislatures, I am uniquely qualified to help Iowa navigate the years ahead.

More: Where the Democratic candidates for Iowa House District 43 stand on education, taxes and other issues

Democrats are expected to be in the minority during the next legislative session. How would you work with Republicans to advocate for your policy positions?

Mauro: One of the biggest challenges, when negotiating from a weakened position, is defining and finding common ground. Democrats and Republicans may not agree on all the solutions to our common challenges, but there is space to begin coming together and defining those challenges in a bipartisan fashion so there can be rational and open discussions. It’s important to get all parties at the table and get to know each other. When you sit down, share a beverage, you get outside the political machines and can talk as people. This is something I’ve learned in business, at church, in our neighborhoods, and in my family.

Srinivas: Growing up in northwest Iowa, I saw the importance of bipartisanship. I’m running to work on behalf of all Iowans, not just those in one political party. We share several common values: the importance of education, health — including mental health — keeping our families safe and investing in our local economies. While running, I am working to find people across the aisle who may share particular values so we can partner together. We may not agree on everything, but partnering on the issues we do care about will enable us to create critical change for Iowans regardless of political party control.

More: Where the candidates for Iowa House District 28 stand on education, climate change and taxes

Access to affordable child care is a struggle for many Iowa families. How should the Iowa Legislature address this issue?

Mauro: I know this struggle firsthand.  I had to leave the teaching profession, a profession I loved because I could not afford child care and the situation has gotten worse.  After leading a small business for over 20 years, I recognize a healthy economy is only possible with a healthy childcare system. The legislation recently passed by Republicans in the Legislature takes us in the wrong direction. We need to expand support to more families, at higher levels of spending, and with an investment in building the base of educators and administrators in early childhood education.

Srinivas: The lack of affordable child care in Iowa impacts our economic growth and exacerbates the workforce shortage. There are two key aspects: insufficient providers, especially for second and third shift workers, and unaffordable costs for low- and middle-income families. We can address the first by supporting childcare businesses in the face of rising operational costs that caused many to close over the pandemic. Federal funds can be used for this. For the second issue, we can adopt an income-based tax credit to create affordable child care options. These upfront investments to create viable child care options will spur economic growth for the state.

More: Where Iowa House District 31 candidates stand on taxes, child care and bipartisanship

Iowa lawmakers spent a considerable amount of time debating the role individual parents should play in public education. What rights should individual parents have and how do you balance that with the mission of public schools to serve all students?

Mauro: As a former middle school teacher and high school coach, and as a parent there is no doubt that parents play a critical role in the education of their children. They should follow their child’s progress and ask questions. Parents should be welcome to inquire about curriculum, materials and other content. A teacher’s door should be open for conversations. And parents should be informed of how the tools used in their child’s education are developed, how educational experts create a well-rounded education plan that best meets the needs of the entire school community.

Srinivas: Iowa’s Republican lawmakers this year created contradictory education policies by touting parental autonomy and imposing state-level curriculum control while vilifying our teachers and school staff through their rhetoric. Parents are an important component to a child’s education, and we must support partnerships between schools and families. This is better accomplished through local control measures via school boards, parent-teacher associations, and staff/administrators of community school districts rather than state-level departments creating more bureaucracy and delays in lesson planning.

More: Who’s running in Iowa’s June 7 primary election? Here’s what voters need to know

What should the state do to manage climate change?

Mauro: Action on climate is action that creates jobs. It builds the infrastructure necessary to support our growing farm, information sciences, financial services, and manufacturing and positions our state to recruit, retain, and sustain a viable workforce into the future. Iowa should implement a market-based program to efficiently reduce emissions. It should expand renewable and clean energy, ramp up electric vehicle infrastructure and modernize Iowa’s electric grid and decarbonize it in the process. The state should also invest in soil health, conservation, and improve water quality.

Srinivas: We need to invest in green energy infrastructure including leveraging funds from the infrastructure bill to make Iowa more accessible to electric vehicles. We can incentivize the uptake of solar energy in private homes and businesses and partner with Iowa’s farmers to increase linkage with alternative energy initiatives like solar and wind. Additionally, we need to work with our farmers and landowners to promote sustainable farming practices. We also need to expand the Iowa Charitable Conservation Tax Credit.

What should the Legislature do to help the state create more opportunities for Iowans with severe disabilities to live in their communities?

Mauro: The Iowa Legislature must make certain that communication and physical spaces are accessible and usable by people with disabilities. Additionally, medical professionals and facilities must be readily available for Iowans with disabilities to access. This requires public and private partnerships in all 99 Iowa counties.

Srinivas: The privatization of Medicaid negatively affects Iowans with disabilities. The increased burdens of proof required for obtaining necessary equipment, like wheelchairs or prosthetics, or life-sustaining, community-based mental health services prevented many from leading the independent lives they deserve. Inadequate payments to medical staffing services created a shortage of trained staff.  Additionally, defunding group homes where people with severe disabilities resided removed vital support options for these Iowans. Repealing the privatization of Medicaid, working with our community colleges to improve staff pipelines, and investing in the mental health system will create more opportunities for Iowans with disabilities.

Would you support the total elimination of the state income tax?

Mauro: No, but we do need tax reform that reduces burdens on middle-class and low-income families while improving our competitive position nationally — and internationally. The income tax in a state like Iowa, which does not benefit from large tourism dollars, is critical to meeting the needs of our state and preparing it for the future.  What we need is a fair tax system where wealthy Iowans and businesses pay their fair share.

Srinivas: No, I would not. The state income tax is vital for funding our road maintenance, law enforcement agencies, and other public services upon which our communities rely. Without the income tax, property and sales taxes would increase to supplement the lost funds. The state income tax creates a more equitable funding source of public services in conjunction with the property and sales taxes.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Eddie Mauro and Megan Srinivas are running for Iowa House District 30


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