Clayton, Meyer air their differences; Candidates find agreement on some issues

Clayton, Meyer air their differences; Candidates find agreement on some issues

School vouchers and the use of tax credits emerged as programs that Democratic challenger Charles Clayton and state Rep. Ann Meyer, R-Fort Dodge, differed on during a Monday evening forum.

Meyer said she approved of at least some use of school vouchers while Clayton described them as a ”slippery slope” that could lead to cutting funding for public schools.

But the two candidates generally agreed with each other on some other issues. For example, both of them firmly opposed the notion of defunding the police.

”I’m totally against defunding the police,” Meyer said.

With regard to defunding the police, Clayton replied ”I hate the thought, hate the word. Taking funding away isn’t going to help.”

Clayton and Meyer answered questions from the public during a 45 minute forum at Fort Frenzy, 3232 First Ave. S. About 75 people attended and another 85 people watched it online.

The forum was sponsored by the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance.

Clayton and Meyer are seeking to represent House District 9, which includes Badger, Clare, Duncombe, Fort Dodge, Vincent and rural areas of northern Webster County.

Meyer is seeking her second term.

School vouchers

While there are all kinds of variations of school voucher programs, they generally give parents state government money to be used to pay for sending their child to a different school. That often means the money is spent to pay tuition at parochial or private schools. Iowa does not have a school voucher program.

Meyer said she can see some value to a school voucher program. She cited the example of a parent who knows their child is going down the wrong path in their current school, but cannot afford to enroll the child in another school.

”I do approve of school vouchers in some instances,” she said.

Clayton said he’s ”very leery” of opening what he called the ”Pandora’s box” of school vouchers.

”I think school vouchers is a slippery slope,” he said. ”They can be a real quick way to take funding out of public schools. I think our public schools need to be funded first.”

Tax credits

The state government offers a wide range of tax credits intended to spur economic development and housing construction.

While acknowledging that every tax credit ought to be evaluated, Meyer said local residents need to look no farther than the CJ Bio America plant west of Fort Dodge to see the value of the credits. She said the company, which makes amino acids and fertilizer, received incentives from three different state programs. In return, the company invested $380 million in construction and machinery.

According to Meyer, the state’s workforce housing tax credit was key in spurring the development of the Williams Bend and Gypsum Creek Crossing neighborhoods.

Clayton said he believes tax credits should be used differently.

”Are we cutting the rest of our community short by giving tax credits to every corporation that comes and asks for them?” he asked.

The pandemic

The candidates differed sharply over Gov. Kim Reynolds’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

”I don’t thinking we’ve had a common sense approach,” Clayton said. ”I don’t think we have consistency.”

”I don’t know how we politicized a pandemic,” he added.

Meyer said she believed Reynolds has done a ”phenomenal job.”

She said Reynolds has had to walk ”a very fine line between keeping people safe and keeping the economy open.”

Points of agreement

Both candidates said they would support a property tax freeze for senior citizens in a bid to keep them from having to sell their homes because they can’t afford to pay rising taxes.

The candidates also both said they would be open to the concept of reviewing the prison terms of those serving life sentences after they have served 25 years behind bars.

‘Sometimes people need a second chance,” Clayton said.

Meyer said some of those inmates ”could be contributing to society instead of sitting in prison.”


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