This year’s Iowa House races in the Quad-Cities only feature competition in the Republican-held districts.
Reps. Ross Paustian, Norlin Mommsen and Gary Mohr all face opponents. But Reps. Cindy Winckler, Monica Kurtz and Phyllis Thede, all Democrats, are running unopposed.
Thus, we are issuing endorsements in the competitive races.
In District 92, Rep. Ross Paustian, R-Walcott, has been in and out of office since 2010 in a section of Scott County that includes the rural, western part of the county, along with Eldridge and parts of north and west Davenport.
Paustian is an ardent tax cutter. He told us recently he’s looking to the 2019 session as an opportunity to cut taxes even deeper than the $2 billion measure the Legislature approved earlier this year.
He seems comfortable with the amount of money the state has spent on education, and while he’s taken calls on the privatization of Medicaid, he says the program isn’t any worse off because of the switch.
His opponent, Democrat Jean Simpson, a retired social worker from Davenport, said she’s seen the negative impact of Medicaid privatization firsthand, as well what she says is inadequate funding for education.
Simpson also is critical of the state’s rollback of collective bargaining rights, saying it will negatively affect Iowa’s ability to attract quality teachers.
There is a clear difference between the two candidates.
Paustian's approach has relentlessly reduced revenues to government, while Simpson takes a more nuanced view. We saw in her someone who is thoughtful and inquisitive and less ideologically driven and partisan than Paustian. That fits this district. And while she clearly believes in greater investments in education and other programs, we believe she also is respectful of taxpayer dollars.
The Times endorses Simpson.
Rep. Gary Mohr swept into office two years ago without any opposition.
This year, he faces Democrat Joan Marttila, a retired audiologist from Bettendorf.
Mohr has voted with his party on the most controversial bills that have come before the Legislature over the past two years.
In many cases, we have disagreed with his votes. But Mohr impressed us early on by being willing to face voters, even hostile ones, when the collective bargaining bill came up in the 2017 session.
He met with his constituents on this issue even while other lawmakers were dodging them.
Mohr rightly sees rising spending on the Medicaid program as an issue to be dealt with, but to his credit he told us he doesn’t believe the change to private management has worked well. We would like him to be more vocal about that.
Marttila impressed us. She is knowledgeable and she believes the state needs to make more investments in education, as well as seek higher wages. Marttila’s personal volunteerism also is admirable.
As we look at this race, we see a part of the Quad-Cities -- Bettendorf, Riverdale and a piece of northeast Davenport -- that has a history of being comfortable with conservative lawmakers, and Mohr reflects their priorities. At the same time, he is someone who has been willing to listen to all of the voters in the district.
We endorse Gary Mohr.
This was a really tough call, and we think that voters in District 97 could be comfortable with incumbent Rep. Norlin Mommsen, a Republican from DeWitt, or Tim McClimon, a retired probation and parole officer, also from DeWitt. McClimon is a Democrat.
David Melchert Jr., a Libertarian from Grand Mound, also is running in the district, which encompasses most of rural Clinton County and a small part of upper Scott County.
Mommsen has long been active in representing the rural and agriculture interests in the area for years. He also wants to see improvements to U.S. 30 and an extension of the school infrastructure funding mechanism.
He also has supported legislation to change the hotel-motel tax to raise money to help the area economy.
McClimon impressed us with his common sense approach to governing and his background. He believes in greater education investments and restoring collective bargaining rights.
As a parole and probation officer, McClimon has had to deal with people and families who are dealing with significant obstacles. And he would bring a fresh perspective to the capitol on how to deal with people who have problems with the law.
As we say, this is a difficult choice. But we believe Mommsen fits his district and would be a good choice for another term.