Democrats weigh in on mental health
Several gubernatorial candidates speak at annual dinner in Fort Dodge
According to Dr. Andy McGuire, Iowa now ranks last in mental health care beds across the state.
McGuire, a former Iowa Democratic Party chairwoman and a native of Waterloo, is running for governor.
She was one of five 2018 gubernatorial candidates who spoke during the Webster County Democrats annual pork chop dinner Sunday night.
The event was held at the Noon Lions’ Den, 731 Exposition Drive. About 50 people attended.
McGuire said mental health is one of her top priorities.
“Mental health resources will be in every community to take care of our citizens,” she said.
State Sen. Nate Boulton, D-Des Moines, also talked about the need for mental health services.
Boulton has declared his candidacy for governor.
He said he was disappointed in former Gov. Terry Branstad’s administration.
“They shut down two of our four mental health facilities at a time when we need to do more, not less, for mental health,” he said.
Jon Neiderbach, another candidate for governor, agreed.
“Mental health is a huge problem in this state,” he said. “We need to give mental health a boost.”
Neiderbach is a former member of the Des Moines School Board.
He said he supports an increase in funding for public schools.
“We need a 10 percent increase in funding for public education,” he said.
McGuire said she has heard a lot of people talking about inequality as she has traveled around the state.
“I hear about people not getting a fair shake or being able to get ahead,” she said. “I want to put people before profits.”
McGuire would raise the state’s minimum wage.
“Minimum wage — we have to raise that,” she said. “I support $15 an hour minimum wage.”
She added, “I want to make sure our kids can stay here and have success in Iowa.”
J.D. Scholten, D-Sioux City, was another speaker. Scholten, a former professional baseball player, is challenging U.S. Rep. Steve King in Iowa’s fourth congressional district. He works as a paralegal.
He focused on health care.
“I think the number one issue is health care,” he said. “It affects everybody.”
“My parents just retired and a bunch of their friends who should be retired are still working for the sole purpose of keeping their health care,” he said. “That’s just being like a prisoner almost to either their occupation or the health care system. I just want to make sure Iowans don’t have to worry about health care as being a barrier to living a free, productive, or successful life.”
He said he would support a public insurance option to compete with other private health insurance companies.
“The number one thing right now and what’s doable right now is putting in a public option to stabilize the markets,” he said. “Because right now the markets are anywhere and everywhere, especially here in Iowa. I think that’s doable in the short term. Long-term I am a Medicare-for-all type of guy.”
Other speakers included: congressional candidates Paul Dahl, Leann Jacobsen, and John Paschen and gubernatorial candidates John Norris and Ross Wilburn.
Tim Henry Winter, a candidate for Iowa House District 48, and Rob Sand, a candidate for Iowa State Auditor, also spoke at the event.
Todd Pritchard spoke on behalf of Jim Mowrer, who is running for Iowa Secretary of State.