Congressional candidate Christie Vilsack says she wants to use the skills she mastered during 38 years of teaching to shape education policy and help the differing personalities in the House of Representatives work together.
''I'm going to be the educator in Congress who can help bring people together,'' the Democrat from Ames said Saturday in Fort Dodge.
''I hope that what people most remember about me is that I want to be a problem solver, not a partisan fighter,'' she added.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Congressional candidate Christie Vilsack speaks Saturday afternoon during an Iowa State Education Association-hosted campaign stop in the Opera House at the Fort Museum and Frontier Village in Fort Dodge. Vilsack, a Democrat, is running against U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron in the 4th Congressional District.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Congressional candidate Christie Vilsack looks over the decorated pumpkin being created by Paityn Enke, 4, of Clear Lake, Saturday afternoon during a campaign stop in Fort Dodge.
Vilsack spoke to about 35 people in the Opera House at the Fort Museum and Frontier Village on Kenyon Road during an event organized by the Iowa State Education Association and the National Education Association.
Dennis Van Roekel, a former Manson resident who is the president of the National Education Association, said the teachers union has endorsed Vilsack.
''Not only does Iowa need Christie Vilsack in Congress, Congress needs Christie Vilsack in Congress,'' he told the audience.
Vilsack is challenging U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, in the 4th Congressional District which includes Webster County and 38 other counties.
The former Iowa first lady has said repeatedly that she wants to create ''layers of economic opportunity'' for the district. Education, which is ''intrinsic to who we are,'' is essential to creating those layers, she said.
''The very best thing we can do for education is this: we need a great teacher in every classroom,'' Vilsack said. ''That is the secret to improving our education system.''
Vilsack has a plan to use some federal money to help ensure there are good teachers in the country's rural areas. She said she wants to take some of the money now being spent on the Race to the Top school reform program and use it to create centers at which teachers will be specifically trained to work in rural schools.
According to Vilsack, all of the Race to the Top money is being spent east of the Mississippi River.
Vilsack added that she wants to electronically connect all of the schools in the country ''so that students in small schools aren't limited by the information they have.''
She said King ''cut the legs out from under education'' by voting twice for a budget plan written by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee. She said that by voting for that budget King showed that he doesn't support Pell grants for college students or Head Start programs for young children. She added that the bill ''cut billions of dollars out of K through 12 education as well.''
On Saturday, King told The Messenger that the Ryan budget guarantees current funding of Pell grants at $5,550; it does not cut them.