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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Spencer residents vie for open House seat

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Megan Hess
Redistricting created an open Iowa House seat that includes all of Clay and Palo Alto counties and southern Dickinson County. Spencer residents Josh Davenport and Megan Hess are competing in Tuesday's Republican Primary for a chance to challenge Spencer Democrat Steve Bomgaars for the District 2 seat in November. Here's a look at where they stand on various issue.

Q: What qualities, characteristics or experiences do you feel make you the right candidate to represent Iowa House District 2?

Davenport: Unlike my opponent, as a homeowner, property tax payer and father of four, I have some practical experience that is foundational to making decisions as a legislator. Growing up in a Christian home on an Iowa farm gave me a foundation of character and common sense. As a pastor I have been able to develop my leadership skills and as a full-time employee of Spencer schools I know what it means to be a public servant. As former co-chair of the Clay County GOP, I have been involved in the political process as a volunteer and care about the future of our state. Endorsements from Sen. Ken Sorenson, Rep. Tom Shaw, Rep. Kim Pearson, and Liberty Iowa PAC also show that I am a strong conservative.

Josh Davenport
Hess: I've worked in the legislatures of two states for over seven years. I will need no on-the-job training and I am ready to work on the first day. My goal is to not be a backbencher. I am going to get legislation passed and take an active role in the legislature.

Having lived in the area for so many years, I have a good pulse on where the people of this district stand on the issues. I've put nearly 25,000 miles on my car and have eaten more pancakes than I can count. I've been going door to door, meeting people since September -- I've been able to listen to the opinions and ideas on how to make things better for the people of northwest Iowa.

I've found that there are many different opinions in northwest Iowa. As your legislator, I would merge those opinions to create good policy. I am pro-business, 100 percent pro-life, I will fight to protect Right to Work and I will work for the people of northwest Iowa.

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing this district, and the state in general, and how do you plan to address those issues?

Davenport: The two biggest issues that I believe are on the minds of those in our district are employment and wasteful spending. While I as a legislator cannot create jobs, I will work hard to help create an environment that is employer friendly, and I will be the taxpayer's friend when it comes to our spending. But on the back burner of everyone's mind are the social issues, and while it doesn't seem politically expedient to talk about issues like marriage and abortion (though it was two years ago), I believe many Iowans are still concerned about those particular social issues. I am tired of the incrementalism that has been spoken of since Roe v. Wade and I will work hard to end all taxpayer-funded abortions in Iowa. Maintaining our commitments to veterans and their needs is very important as well, and as an Iowa farm kid and a current Farm Bureau member, I will legislate with the needs of our important agricultural community in mind.

Hess: I've laid out a plan of five goals- because I believe that government should run itself like a business. Businesses have goals and the state should, too.

Goal (1): Create 1,000 new jobs in our district each year for the next five years. Governor Branstad set a goal to create 200,000 new jobs in the state and we need to carry our weight in getting that done. One idea I have to get people back to work is to incentivize businesses to take a person off of unemployment and onto their payroll. When a business takes a person off of unemployment, the state would pay a portion of that persons wages for a period of six to eight weeks. This weans the person off unemployment and onto the payroll of a business. This would decrease the amount of unemployment benefits the state pays out, because rather than paying 100 percent of a person's unemployment we would be paying a lot less -- and we would be cutting the amount of time a person is on unemployment because they are back to work.

Goal (2): Eliminate regulations on businesses by 2 percent every year for at least five years. To accomplish this, we need to stop letting bureaucrats legislate and return the power of legislating back to the legislature. While working in the private sector for a medical device company, I saw firsthand what regulations did to stifle our business's innovation and growth.

Goal (3): Reduce the size of government by 2 percent every year over the next five years. I want to see government employees pay a portion of their health insurance just like the majority of Iowans. By having state employees pay only $100 a month it would save our state $63 million a year.

Goal (4) Increase the family household income by 5 percent per year for the next five years. The first way to do this is to get people back to work- my first goal. But I also we need to promote entrepreneurial activities like the Okoboji Entrepreneurial Institute and the Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Office which work to get businesses off the ground by connecting entrepreneurs with mentors. People can bring home a bigger wage when they are able to run their own business and determine their own salary.

Goal (5): Push Iowa's education national ranking in math and reading to the top five over the next five years. I will propose legislation for aggressive teacher mentorship programs, summer enrichment programs, and public online education.

Q: What is your opinion on how the state's budget has been handled in recent years and what changes would you propose?

Davenport: We have been doing better with spending recently than we have in past years, but we must continue to watch our spending like a hawk. We must always be looking for ways to tighten our belt while maintaining commitments we have made. We need to spend less than what we take in and not use one-time money for ongoing expenses.

Hess: Before Republicans took control of the Iowa House in 2010, the State of Iowa was spending $1.18 for every $1.00 it took in. That has since changed -- we simply cannot spend more than we take in. Passing a fiscally sound budget is not always easy -- there are tough decisions to make, and I am not afraid to make tough decisions. The legislature has spent more time in session over the course of those two years because of gridlock- I will not be that person that refuses to work across the party lines. Stomping one's foot and saying "No!" is not the way to get things done.

Q: How would you work to reduce the unemployment rate and improve Iowa's economy?

Davenport: First of all, another government program or government intervention is not the answer. Government needs to get out of the way of businesses and encourage employers and job creators by working on regulatory reform and property tax reform. Capitalism, liberty, and the free market will take care of the rest.

Hess: I proposed a plan to reduce the unemployment rate, which would decrease government spending and cut government, which I outlined above. Iowa needs to become competitive with other states- so let's go mining in other states like California to recruit business to relocate and expand here. We have to be proactive in building our economy and getting Iowans back to work.

Q: What changes would you propose to improve education in Iowa?

Davenport: I believe that the biggest need is to fight for and maintain local control. Each area, and not the state, knows what is best for their kids. Educational policy and education funding are two areas that will always be in need of attention and I will sit, listen, and work with those who are in the trenches on these fronts. We must also face the reality that the home life of the student, and not education as a whole, is the reason for many of the problems we face in our schools today. Therefore, we must understand that more government intervention is not the solution and that when it comes to the classroom, the basics must be the primary focus.

Hess: I have made it a goal to get Iowa's students back to the top in reading and math. We need to look at online education. Public schools can contract out with private companies to administer online classes that the school does not offer. If a student wants to learn Advanced Chemistry, their high school can contract out with a company for that student to take Advanced Chemistry online. The student would go to other classes with their peers as usual, but would take this course online. This idea expands options for students -- particularly in smaller schools and it also reduces class sizes. In-person teachers would still monitor students and their coursework, to ensure the student is completing the work and comprehends the material.

We need an aggressive mentorship program for new teachers- so good teachers can pass along their skills to new teachers. Also, we need to hold off on giving a contract to a new teacher until their second year teaching. Observing a teacher's first year would give school districts an opportunity to make sure a new teacher is a good fit for their students. No teacher should be given a guaranteed job forever.

Q: What changes, if any, would you make to Iowa's gun laws?

Davenport: "Shall Issue" and "Stand your Ground" are a good start, but we truly need Preemption Reform to protect law-abiding citizens from getting their 2nd Amendment right from being infringed upon by county and city governments. Preemption Reform would strengthen Iowa Code 724.28 and would eliminate political subdivisions from finding loopholes and enacting worthless ordinances. I personally and publicly fought for this on a local level in 2011 while my opponent was a staffer for that state representative who torpedoed the NRA-sponsored bill that would have given us the Preemption Reform we need. I am a gun owner, a carry-permit holder, an NRA member, an NRA certified instructor who has locally taught the prerequisite class for citizens to apply for their carry permits, and I received an "A" rating from the NRA on their candidate questionnaire.

Hess: We need to re-evaluate Internet certification for Iowans to get a permit to carry weapons. When it comes to weapons training, live instruction provides access to different types of weapons, holsters and demonstration on how to use the weapons. Further, there currently are not safeguards in place to make sure the person taking the class is the person receiving certification. There are efforts to remove all training for weapons permits- but I'm not ready to go there yet. I will look to the public and to law enforcement for any further changes to Iowa's gun laws.

Q: What is the key difference between you and your primary opponent?

Davenport: I am of the limited-government, citizen-legislator persuasion, while my opponent is the establishment GOP, big government, career politician. While my opponent ended our recent debate by saying, and wanting to portray, that there are no real differences between us, I believe there are five key differences: experience, reality, electability, motive, and honesty. I may not have worked in DC or Des Moines or know where the coffee pots or legislative bathrooms are in the statehouse, but I have the practical real-life experience needed to make decisions as a legislator. When it comes to reality, I think most of our people understand that my opponent's goals of creating 5,000 jobs in 5 years just in our district is just a political score line. I am also the most electable candidate based upon my experience and the strength of our campaign. While my opponent raised around $21,000 in one year, our campaign raised almost $14,000 in three months and we have an army of grassroots volunteers. When it comes to our motives, I am willing to serve our people as a representative, while my opponent is looking for a career in politics and is just using this office as a stepping stone. Honesty is also important and, blinded by her own ambition, my opponent has been dishonest in expressing in person and by radio ad that she is an attorney. Megan Hess has not passed the bar exam and according to the Iowa State Bar Association, she cannot refer to herself as an attorney in any way until she has done so. She needs to come clean on this if she is going to be trusted as a representative.

Hess: Electability. When Republicans go to the polls on Tuesday we need to elect a solid candidate that can beat Steve Bomgaars in November. My opponent and I do not differ too much on the issues. With my community involvement and experience in the legislature, I am the best candidate to beat Steve Bomgaars in November. Please when you vote: Remember November.

Q: Is there anything else potential voters need to know about you?

Davenport: As a legislator, two major factors will be dictatorial for me: constituency and conscience. What I believe is important, but who I represent is also important. Those two factors will have precedence over my political party and its leadership. I will be accountable and accessible and will sit and listen to your questions, concerns and ideas. That is the kind of representative I have always desired to have and I will ever be mindful of the fact that I have several thousand bosses living in our district.

When and where to vote

Primary voting will take place between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. at the following locations in Clay County:

Primary voting will take place between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. at the following locations in Clay County:

Lake/Freeman PrecinctDickens Community Center
Waterford/Lone Tree PrecinctHap Ketelsen Community Center-Everly
Logan/Gillett Grove Precinct Gillett Grove Town Hall
Lincoln/Clay Precinct Royal Community Center
Douglas/Peterson Precinct Peterson Community Center
Garfield/Herdland Precinct Webb Community Center
Summit/Riverton/Sioux/Meadow Clay County Regional Events Center
All Spencer wardsClay County Regional Events Center