With the midterm elections less than two months away, fourth congressional candidate J.D. Scholten, Democrat, discussed key campaign issues with students on Tuesday night.
Scholten, along with other local Democrats candidates, met with members of the Iowa State College Democrats in an effort to encourage political advocacy and get more Democrats elected.
Overall, more than 70 students, members and political candidates gathered for the event — the important role of voting in a democracy at its forefront.
Currently, Republican Steve King is 10 points ahead of Scholten and has an overall 41 percent favorability.
“An eight-time incumbent polling below 50 percent is a chance, especially 41 percent. It means he’s vulnerable,” Scholten said. “I see this election coming down to the wire.”
Yet Iowa State College Democrats President Taylor Blair is hopeful that Scholten can successfully lead the fourth district in the future.
“Scholten is so good on the issues, and that’s what students care about,” Blair said. “He’s got so much energy, he’s young, and young people have a role to play in defeating Steve King.”
One of the primary issues Scholten wants to address with King is economics. Scholten believes there aren’t enough high paying jobs with benefits in Iowa, and this is forcing many Iowans to seek employment elsewhere.
“We need to create an economy that can absorb it’s students,” he said. “We need those $55-75 thousand salaries return.”
Scholten also said he wants to institute a public option health care plan, and intends to eventually implement a medicare for all system.
However, unemployment is at a record low in Iowa, as it is throughout the country, and the U.S. is seeing a booming stock market. Scholten explained how these indicators aren’t solid evidence that ordinary Iowans are doing well economically.
“Unemployment is at 2.9 percent, but a lot of the jobs in this district are paying ten or fifteen dollars an hour, and they don’t have any benefits,” Scholten said.
In East Hall, Scholten and other speakers encouraged students to be active in the community and encourage voting.
“My strategy has been to get to the people,” Scholten said. “We can win these elections by changing the narrative of who votes in this district.”
Many of the students joined Scholten and his campaign staff to take a picture in front of his campaign Winnebago.
“What are you scared of, Steve King?” they chanted in front of the vehicle.
Herman Quirmbach, Iowa State economics professor and State Senator from Ames, said Republicans like King are hurting students.
“The Republicans can’t handle a budget and the universities are taking it on the chin,” he said. “Your tuition pays for 65 percent of the school’s bills, that number used to be 30 percent, and adjusted for inflation Iowa universities have been cut $200 million.”
But at the helm of the event was the significance of voting.
“Knock on doors, make calls, really get out there,” said Josh Opperman, a candidate for story county supervisor. “There’s two seats left on that board, and we want two Democrats to fill it.”
The other Democratic candidate for county supervisor, Linda Murken, also stressed the importance of voter turnout.
“I ran for this position once before,” Murken said. “Out of 46,000 voters, I lost the election by 850 votes. Every vote counts.”
The Iowa State College Democrats event also attracted many new members, such as Sehba Faheem and Eli Kenyon, juniors in biological systems engineering.
“Lately we’ve just been ranting to each other about climate change,” Faheem said. “Finally we were like, ‘let’s join a group,’ so we’ve been checking out different organizations lately.”
Faheem and Kenyon said that the present political climate made an impact on them, and they feel more encouraged to vote.
“I’ve never voted before,” Kenyon said. “My parents didn’t vote very often either, but I’ve just been fed up with everything I’ve seen on the news and I want to do something about it.”