Meet the candidates running for Iowa House District 35 in Des Moines’ north, west sides

Four candidates are competing to represent Iowa House District 35, which covers the west and north sides of Des Moines.

Incumbent Democrat Rep. Sean Bagniewski is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. Two Republicans, Daniel Schmude and Angela Kay Schreader, and one Libertarian, David G. Green, also are running for the seat.

To help voters, the Des Moines Register sent questions to all federal and Des Moines area legislative candidates running for political office this year. Their answers have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

The primary election is scheduled for June 4 ahead of the Nov. 5 general election.

More: Everything you need to know about the June 4 primary election, including voting absentee

Sean Bagniewski (incumbent)

Sean BagniewskiSean Bagniewski

Sean Bagniewski

Age: 40

Party: Democratic

Where did you grow up: Des Moines

Current town of residence: Des Moines

Education: Roosevelt High School, Central Campus, Truman State University, Drake Law School

Occupation: Attorney

Political experience and civic activities: Former Polk County Democratic Party chair, former Beaverdale Neighborhood Association president, former Des Moines Neighbors president, clerk and staffer for Gov. Tom Vilsack

Who is Daniel Schmude?

Daniel SchmudeDaniel Schmude

Daniel Schmude

Age: 57

Party: Republican

Where did you grow up: Houston, Texas

Current town of residence: Des Moines

Education: Received Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Texas

Occupation: Software engineer for a financial services provider

Political experience and civic activities: I’m entering politics for the first time, but that can be a good thing. Civically, I’m a veteran of the U.S. Army, I have coached youth soccer, I’m a lector at my church, and I’m a regular blood donor.

Who is Angela Kay Schreader?

Angela Kay SchreaderAngela Kay Schreader

Angela Kay Schreader

Age: 57

Party: Republican

Where did you grow up: Twin Cities area of Minnesota

Current town of residence: Des Moines

Education: Bachelor’s degree

Occupation: Senior project manager in construction

Political experience and civic activities: I used be on the township planning board for the Wyoming Township in Minnesota from 1996-2001. I was a caucus and county delegate in 2020 before COVID hit. I am a member of CRRW, IFRW, and NFRW.

Who is David G. Green?

Green did not respond to the Des Moines Register’s survey.

What would be your top issue should you be elected?

Bagniewski: Let’s grow Iowa. Before every vote, I’ve asked myself if the bill will help us grow. Unfortunately, many have fallen short. Instead, our Legislature has spent a decade focused on the culture wars. That’s left us the fourth-highest state for people moving away, the eighth-worst state economy, the third-slowest gross domestic product, and 15th-worst to start a business. I want people moving here, strong schools, vibrant businesses, and strong conservation. I keep a jar of buttons on my Statehouse desk with the simple question, “What would Bob Ray do?” We should do more to answer it.

Schmude: My top issue is the longstanding dispute over abortion. I’m running on a bipartisan plan to resolve the dispute for good. The plan uses a common-ground approach. The pro-choice side is against reproduction coercion, and the pro-life side is against abortion. Since forced abortion is in each category, it’s the common ground. Both sides oppose it. If elected, I would convince both sides that the crime happens and that the bipartisan “Right to Choose Life Act” is the way to stop it. The rest would take care of itself. Details can be found on my website: RightToChoose.Life/Daniel.

Schreader: Mental health and addiction. I’m trying to get a program passed that would pay for a person to go into treatment if they want to. This would include more mental health and addiction programs.

What policies would you support to improve Iowa’s education system?

Bagniewski: I was proud to vote for increased teacher and education staff pay this year. I’m adamantly opposed to Republicans defunding Iowa’s Area Education Agencies because it will have profoundly negative impacts on families — particularly in rural Iowa. I’m also opposed to spending more than $1 billion taxpayer dollars on private vouchers. I think it’s vital that we overturn both laws. Looking forward, I want our state to be one of the top for education like the Iowa I grew up in. I want to see a bipartisan push to fund full-day preschool for all of Iowa’s kids, among other proposals.

Schmude: Funding public schools would be the top priority. I’m surprised that’s even an issue. I would also try to resolve the current dispute over controversial books. I believe that certain books could be identified and set aside as available for checkout with parental consent only. We should encourage parents to be involved in their children’s education, but not to the extent where the rights of other parents are infringed upon.

Schreader: I would support offering more options and opportunities in public schools. Charter schools are a good alternative if a student still wants to or needs to go to public school. Charter schools offer more opportunities for everyone. I would also add incentives for schools and teachers when the state and national test scores are raised.

What do you think Iowa’s tax policy should be? Do you believe the state’s priority should be on lowering rates or spending on services for Iowans?

Bagniewski: The massive amount of federal funding during the pandemic is dwindling. State agencies have artificially deflated their actual budget needs to dangerous effect — second to last in the nation in nursing home inspectors, $100 million in upgrades needed for our state parks, some of the worst bridges in the nation. I’m concerned that adding $1 billion in vouchers plus thoughtless tax cuts will require cuts to funding for law enforcement, firefighters, schools, and other vital services. If we are going to cut taxes, though, I think we should focus on something that helps us all — like reducing the sales tax.

Schmude: We should strive for a balanced approach to taxing and spending. Spend on services that Iowans are most in need of, but keep wasteful spending at a minimum, so that we don’t overtax Iowans.

Schreader: I think lower taxes allow Iowans to spend more money and put more money into the economy. I don’t think spending money on services is always a good thing. The private sector usually does a better job than the government does on services. Partnering with private companies to provide services can better serve Iowans who need those services.

What policies would you support to improve school safety in Iowa?

Bagniewski: I believe local school districts — not state legislators — know the best way to keep their schools safe. I support funding for single points of entry, metal detectors, enhanced surveillance systems around buildings, and many of the measures that school districts are demanding. As a parent of a student myself, I find the Republican law allowing teachers to carry guns without liability and without me knowing whether they’re carrying a clear violation of the “parents’ rights” they say are so important. Instead of political theater, I think we need to get serious about how to actually keep our kids safe.

Schmude: I support anti-bullying policies, as well as policies that are designed to improve the mental health of students. I will listen to other ideas, but I believe that focusing on those two areas would have the greatest impact on improving school safety in Iowa.

Schreader: I think that there is a lot that is already done to make schools safer. I think that keeping kids off social media will go a long way to helping kids be more engaged in school instead of the false sense of friends that social media does. I also think that supporting the family is important. If parents are engaged with their kids we should continue to support and nurture that. I think that God should be brought back. The Pledge of Allegiance should be said in every school and every classroom. If a child or a group of children want to pray then we should allow that.

What next steps do you believe the Iowa Legislature should take when it comes to abortion?

Bagniewski: I support a woman’s right to choose. Instead of the six week ban passed by Republicans, we need a law upholding Roe — which is where the vast majority of Iowans are on the issue. At the very least, we should allow Iowans to weigh in. Iowa Republicans passed a proposal requiring a constitutional referendum on reproductive rights several years ago. After they saw the national tide turning, though, they refused to bring it up for the second vote needed to put it before the voters. If we legislators are here to serve the people, then we should listen to them.

Schmude: I’m opposed to restricting access to abortion, but I’m also opposed to funding it with tax dollars. The Iowa Legislature is divided into two sides over this issue. If elected, I would try to reconcile the two sides so that we all work together to stop the crime of forced abortion. I have evidence showing that the crime happens, and the Right to Choose Life Act is the way to stop it. The bipartisan bill would give every pregnant female the option to disincentivize forced abortion, so that nobody would want to make her get an abortion.

Schreader: I think that the current bill is a good bill and once it gets out of the courts it should become the law of Iowa. This is a hot button issue and even within the Republican Party there are differences. I think that each state has its own choice to make and it is really going to depend on who is in the majority. We should be supporting contraception and other counseling services for women. Let them know that it isn’t the end of the world and offer them pregnancy care and options.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Meet the candidates running for Iowa House District 35 in Des Moines

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