Democratic Rep. Kenan Judge is facing Republican challenger Kristen Stiffler as he seeks a third term in the Iowa House of Representatives.
The district includes Waukee and part of Clive.
To help voters, the Des Moines Register sent questions to all federal, statewide and Des Moines area legislative candidates running for political office this year. Their answers have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Early voting begins Oct. 19 for the Nov. 8 election.
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Who is Kenan Judge?
Where did you grow up? george town
Current town of residence: waukee
Education: Albia High School
Occupation: Retired after 38 years with Hy-Vee.
Political experience and civic activities: I have served two terms (four years) in the Iowa House. I also help with supporting Waukee Area Christian Services. They are a community food bank, children’s clothes closet and walk-in health clinic.
Who is Kristen Stiffler?
Where did you grow up? Lakewood, Colo
Current town of residence: Clive
- Bachelor of Arts from Regis University
- Juris Doctor from Creighton University
- Completing a master’s in public administration-public policy from the University of Nebraska Omaha, estimated graduation 2023
Occupation: Public policy advocate and consultant
Political experience and civic activities:
- Volunteer at Waukee Area Christian Services food pantry
- Volunteer catechist at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church
- Member of the Waukee School District’s School Improvement Advisory Committee
- Former member of Shuler Elementary School’s Equity Diversity & Inclusion Team
- Volunteer coach for numerous sports for almost 15 years (micro-sports through college), including Creighton University’s women’s lacrosse club team
- Former advocate and government relations manager for the National Psoriasis Foundation, tasked with advocating in state legislatures for patients with chronic diseases
- Former legal counsel to the Nebraska Unicameral’s Health and Human Services Committee
- Former legislative aide to a Nebraska state senator
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What would be your top issue should you be selected?
judge: In my view, the top issues are supporting our schools and teachers with the resources they need to be successful. A well-educated workforce wants to grow our economy. Affordable and accessible health care, including mental health care and lowering prescription drug costs. My experience of raising a family in Waukee and Clive with my wife, Kathi, and having a 38-year career at Hy-Vee gives me the experience to know what the key issues are. I believe that I bring to the legislature the ability to work with everyone regardless of political party.
Stiffler: My top issue is to continue supporting Iowa families and to ensure they are thriving. We need to work on affordable and accessible day care and before- and after-school care for working families — by reducing burdensome regulations and supporting current and new daycare owners with access to supportive resources. We need to keep improving access to mental and behavioral health services for families in a timely manner. Finally, we need to continue working to improve academic outcomes for all Iowa students.
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Iowans are struggling with rising costs and inflation. What can the state do to help them make ends meet?
judge: I helped pass the tax cut that was signed into Iowa law last year. It will lower taxes for families and eliminates the tax on retirement income for seniors. We also need to find ways to lower the cost of child care.
Stiffler: Iowans are better poised to weather the painful 40-year high inflation rates imposed from Washington, DC, because the Iowa Legislature and governor worked tirelessly over the last few years to ensure Iowans keep more of their hard-earned dollars through tax reform. The Legislature Needs to continue to limit government spending, keep improving on economic opportunities for Iowans and continue to return taxpayer dollars. Iowans know how to spend their own money better than the government, and they need their money now more than ever before.
What do you believe Iowa’s abortion policy should be? Do you think abortion should be banned entirely? Do you think Iowa should have no restrictions? If you believe there should be some restrictions, please be specific about the restrictions and the exceptions you support.
judge: This is an intensely personal decision that should be left up to the woman and her doctor. I have learned by talking to women that every situation is different.
Stiffler: Iowans continually support a culture of life, both legislatively and socially. A culture of life means providing mothers of planned and unplanned pregnancies with support during pregnancy and after pregnancy (eg physical and mental health care, safe housing, food, clothing and other financial support) regardless of whether she raises the baby herself or gives her baby to an adoptive family. The Iowa Legislature must continue to be a leader in the nation by showing compassion and support to all mothers and their unborn babies.
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What is the best way to improve Iowa’s education system?
judge: The first area we need to make sure our kids and teachers have the resources they need to be successful. Having a world-class education system is the future of Iowa and our economic growth engine.
Stiffler: Education is the great equalizer, and Iowa must be creative in finding ways to improve student achievement. However, improvements to the educational system need to be more than a discussion about appropriations. We also need to review current education laws, policies and procedures at the state level to determine which ones are effective or ineffective in improving student achievement. Students must also be taught agency to understand the success sequence and how to build character. Finally, we need to find ways to encourage partnerships between parents and schools.
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What new laws, if any, do you believe Iowa should pass regarding guns?
judge: I believe in the Second Amendment as it is written in the Constitution. We need to work together to make commonsense changes to our current laws like background checks and risk protection policies that will help make our communities safer.
Stiffler: Safety in our communities must always be a priority, this includes ensuring law-abiding citizens are able to exercise their constitutional rights to protect their families and communities. Schools need to provide safe learning environments and active shooter protocols should be reviewed to determine effectiveness and readiness.
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