Says he wants more than a raised minimum wage for the 4th District
Halfway through his “Every Town Tour,” congressional candidate J.D. Scholten stopped in Fort Dodge on Sunday afternoon to talk with potential voters about revitalizing rural economies and reforming the health care industry.
Scholten, a Democrat from Sioux City, is running against Republican candidate Randy Feenstra, of Hull, for Iowa’s 4th U.S. Congressional District seat.
Scholten’s “drive-in” parking lot rally drew in about three dozen cars at Fort Frenzy on Sunday afternoon. Supporters stayed in their cars and tuned into a radio station, which carried the broadcast of Scholten’s event. Standing in the back of a pickup, the candidate gave his stump speech and answered several questions sent in by attendees via text message.
Scholten was asked how Congress can help towns like Fort Dodge grow.
“This is one of the reasons I’m running for Congress,” he answered. “I see towns like Sioux City, like Fort Dodge, like Mason City, that have so much potential. The biggest thing is we’ve got to get some of the smaller communities around thriving as well.”
Embracing new technology, especially in the agriculture industry, is necessary for the “next wave” of Iowa’s economy, Scholten said.
“We need to make sure we have the infrastructure in place to allow that to take off the way that it can and it should,” he said. “I have a vision of this district being the epicenter of 21st century-resilient agriculture. And in doing so, that is going to start a rural revitalization that is going to influence towns like Fort Dodge, heavily.”
A key facet to the Democratic Party platform for several years has been raising the minimum wage. While that’s a “great” goal, Scholten said, he wants more for the 4th District.
“I want to create 60-, 70- and 80-thousand-dollar jobs,” he said. “Those are game changers.”
Instead of the district’s young workers having to move to the Des Moines metro or the Omaha area to find high-paying jobs, they’ll be able to stay closer to home.
“The reality is, the majority of the economies in this district are going in the wrong direction and it’s tough to see these towns that have seen better days, where they’re at now — it’s like, what can we do?” Scholten told The Messenger. “And if we continue to elect the status quo, that’s too many career politicians who have sold out the American farmer, the American worker.”
The backbone of the 4th Congressional District is small business and agriculture, Scholten said, and “we’ve got to make sure that both entities are going in the right direction.”
One of Scholten’s priorities on the campaign trail is the promise to fix the health care system.
“We are the wealthiest nation in the world and if you look at health care in what we prioritize, you wouldn’t know it,” he said. “We pay the most per person out of any country in the world, yet we’re not getting a very good bang for our buck.”
The candidate recalled the countless gas stations he’s stopped at during his tour of the 374 incorporated towns and cities in the fourth district, and the majority that had some sort of donation box at the register, often for a community member battling some kind of health crisis. He asked voters to think about the GoFundMe campaigns and pancake breakfast benefits, raising funds for medical expenses.
“My goal is universal health care and it’s going to take several steps to get there, but I will continue to fight until we have absolute universal health care,” Scholten said as a chorus of car horns honked in agreement.
He said the next step is a “robust public option,” protecting preexisting conditions and making sure prescription drugs are affordable.
Scholten also talked about his campaign promise to “secure our democracy from special interests” that flood campaigns with election funds in exchange for favor on Captiol Hill.
“We don’t get where we need to go unless we get money out of politics,” he said.
Scholten said there’s a problem with elected members of Congress having to turn around and start fundraising for the next election as soon as the previous election is over.
“That doesn’t incentivize things getting done in Washington,” he said.
Scholten has vowed to not accept any corporate political action committee contributions, nor accept any money from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.