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NW Iowa Review: J.D. Scholten makes Sioux Center stop

J.D. Scholten didn’t speak much about his professional baseball career Thursday, Aug. 20, in Sioux Center, but his five campaign promises were printed on baseball cards for the audience to keep.

Those campaign promises were the focus of the remarks by the 40-year-old Democratic candidates for Iowa’s 4th District in the U.S. House of Representative.

He spoke from the back of a pickup truck at the Sioux County fairgrounds parking lot while people in about 20 vehicles tuned into his message broadcast on the radio. He held a similar event on Wednesday in Sibley.

Scholten narrowly lost to longtime Republican incumbent Rep. Steve King in 2018. On Nov. 3, however, he will go up against state Sen. Randy Feenstra, who unseated King in the June Republican primaries.

Scholten’s first promise was to put the interest of Iowans over the interest of politics.

Instead of political ideology, he said a message that connects to people has the power to earn votes. That led to his next promise, which was simply that he will show up for people in the 4th District.

At the Sioux Center event, Scholten noted how in the fall, he conducted a “Don’t Forget About Us” tour in which he visited the district’s communities with fewer than 1,000 people.

“We’re willing to show up and we will continue to show up because this job is about service,” Scholten said. “It’s about giving back.”

His next three promises were to fix health care, fight for an economy that works for everybody and secure the country’s democracy.

When talking about health care, Scholten brought up the story of an attorney who mentored him while Scholten worked as a paralegal. The attorney recently was diagnosed with cancer but was told by his insurance company his doctor was no longer within its network.

“When he’s fighting for his life, he has to go find another doctor and that’s just wrong,” Scholten said.

He also said health care also was the No. 1 issue he spoke to people during his small-town tour last fall.

In Hardin County, a woman had told Scholten how she could not afford an inhaler prescription which would cost $244 a month. Even when her doctor gave her a cheaper one with fewer doses, she still could not pay for it. Her doctor eventually told her to go to Canada to buy an inhaler.

“If that’s the best we are as a nation, we can do way better,” Scholten said.

When speaking about fighting for an economy that works for everyone, Scholten said career politicians have sold out people such as farmers, teachers and everyday consumers with policies that do not adequately value their work.

In agriculture specifically, he spoke about how concentration of large dairy, pork and cattle companies have hurt small farming operations. He also mentioned how President Donald Trump’s small-refinery exemptions to oil refineries have hurt corn producers.

“They’re picking sides and it’s big oil conglomerates over the American farmer, over our Midwest corn growers,” Scholten said. “One thing we’re pushing for is not only making sure that the renewable fuel standard is met at that 15 billion gallons of ethanol per year in our fuel supply but we’re pushing for a low-carbon fuel standard.”

His final promise about securing democracy focused on how special-interest groups and their lobbyists in Washington, D.C., dictate policy by giving money to lawmakers through political action committees. Unlike those lawmakers, Scholten said his campaign does not accept corporate money or support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“We wanted to run out of Sioux City, Iowa. We wanted to be held accountable by the people of this district, rather than the folks out in D.C.,” Scholten said.

He later took questions from attendees after they texted them to his campaign staff. One question was how Scholten would protect Social Security and Medicare.

Scholten said he supports a policy proposal called “scrap the cap,” which would require people to pay into Social Security past the $137,700 income limit. Regarding Medicare, he supports expanding the program and lowering the age limit so people can access it by age 50.

He also was asked how he would get large companies such as Amazon to set up locations in places such as N’West Iowa. He reframed the issue to instead say he would push for tax cuts to small businesses that already exist in such places.

“What we need to do is give tax breaks to the small businesses, the innovation, to help create local economies,” he said.

“When you spend money at Dollar General, it doesn’t always stay here. It goes to headquarters, it goes to Wall Street. What we need is to strengthen our Main Streets and we need an economy and a tax system that benefits that.”

Written by Randy Paulson