By Katarina Sostaric | Iowa Public Radio
Democratic candidate for Iowa governor Deidre DeJear said Saturday she would prioritize investing in public education and mental health care if elected this fall.
Speaking at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair, she said Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds is starving state systems.
DeJear said $1.5 billion in taxpayer dollars is sitting in a state trust fund.
“That’s Iowa’s rainy day fund, and it’s raining in our state on mental health care, on education, on health care, on child care,” DeJear said. “We have to have leadership who’s going to put your resources to work, not circumvent the problem.”
DeJear said spending more on education could help retain teachers and school staff, expand access to early childhood education, and ensure high school graduates are prepared for college or technical school.
And she said she keeps hearing stories of people struggling to access mental health care, even after Reynolds and the Iowa Legislature recently created a statewide framework for mental health and changed the funding structure. She told reporters she wouldn’t want to spend all of the state’s savings.
DeJear said Iowa led on desegregating schools, electing the first Black president, and on legalizing same-sex marriage.
“We are not short of vision,” DeJear said. “We just need leadership who’s one, willing to turn the lights on for us, and two, willing to get out of our way.”
She also said this election is also about freedom, especially freedom to vote, and freedom for people to choose if they want to get an abortion.
DeJear lives in Des Moines and owns a small business that helps other small businesses. She became the first Black woman in Iowa to be nominated by a major political party to run for statewide office when she ran for secretary of state in 2018.
As of Saturday, Reynolds did not appear on the schedule of Soapbox speakers. All candidates for statewide office were invited to speak there.
At her re-election campaign announcement in March, Reynolds said this election would be about who is going to promote freedom. One of her key legislative priorities continues to be pushing for state-funded scholarships for some kids to go to private schools.
Libertarian Rick Stewart is also running for governor this year.