Promising group could elevate the work of the Iowa Legislature

“I’m starting to think #IowaNice is a myth,” Ankeny software engineer Todd Brady recently tweeted about an Iowa bill to ban transgender girls from playing sports teams. feminine.

Every day seems to bring a new proposition to hurt a population that has been written off at the Statehouse. Some of us can barely wait for lawmakers to pack their bags and go home. While many members are decent and want to help the people they were sent there to serve, regardless of party, a hard core of extremists in charge are determined to push measures that pit the powerful against the powerless. .

But it won’t be another column decrying the latest moves on Capitol Hill. There is in fact a reason for hope. A number of new Iowa leaders committed to more inclusive representation are running to run for legislative seats this year. They’re not on a team – some will actually compete against each other – and this isn’t a complete list. But each represents priorities that are being overlooked, such as public education, health care and workers’ rights.

Most have never run for office before, and not all are Democrats. These are real people – professionals, community leaders, problem solvers – who marched to protest police brutality after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and helped protect people’s health during the early stages of COVID -19, among others.

Todd Brady: Vaccine Hunter developer focused on education


Brady is one. The 38-year-old Democrat is running in Ankeny Senate District 21. Raised primarily in Indianola, he married a teacher from Ankeny, where they raise their children to be close to their grandparents. A software engineer, he works for Principal Financial and started the Vaccine Hunter website to help Iowans find and plan for COVID-19 vaccinations. It started to help his in-laws: “I didn’t like the rollout of vaccines and especially COVID testing,” he said. People he hears about on the East Coast are appalled at Iowa’s handling of the situation, which he describes as “let it go and forget it.”

Brady is also appalled by legislation preventing companies from making mask or vaccine mandates, and accuses Iowa’s political leaders of politicizing health care. Another campaign priority is funding education adequately and finding ways to retain teachers and recruit new ones.

Megan Srinivas: An infectious disease doctor wants to improve health care

Megan L. Srinivas

Megan Srinivas, an infectious disease physician, has been at the center of COVID-19 by offering advice on infection prevention and dispelling myths about vaccine transmission. Under contract with Broadlawns Medical Center, she also works remotely for the University of North Carolina Medical School. She hopes to take over from retired Democratic Representative Bruce Hunter in the new Iowa House District 30 on the south side of Des Moines.

Raised near Fort Dodge, she earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Harvard and her medical degree from Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa. She serves on the Iowa Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission and serves on the Board of Directors of the Iowa Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

The daughter of Indian immigrants, she says her parents chose Iowa for its good schools, safe neighborhoods and opportunities for working families. But under the state’s current leadership, it sees the incomes of working families plummeting, sees teachers vilified and health care out of reach for too many people. She says she would bring her medical experience to the Legislature “to show politicians how we can fix our health care system to provide better care at a more affordable price.

Izaah Knox: Urban Dreams frontman seeks to stop echo chambers

Izaah Knox, executive director of Urban Dreams, digs a street-to-sidewalk walking path outside Urban Dreams on Forest Avenue in Des Moines during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service event on Monday, Jan. 17 2022.

Izaah Knox, 45, who is running for Senate District 17, has been engaged in community outreach and equal rights efforts for years as a longtime member of the Des Moines Human Rights Commission and head of Des Moines’ Urban Dreams. The social services agency offers mental health and addiction treatment programs, economic development and voter education, all campaign priorities for him.

A Drake graduate, he lived 19 years in the neighborhood, which will serve some 61,000 residents. Appearing nightly at Des Moines black liberation marches, Knox says he has the endorsement of Thomas Mann, the first and still only black man in the Iowa Senate, who retired there. 31 years ago.

A Ph.D. A candidate for Iowa State, Knox hosted diversity and equity training to get people out of their echo chambers. He says the legislature can be part of it.

Alejandro Murguia-Ortiz: Organizer says both parties abandon immigrants

Alejandro Murguia-Ortiz

Alejandro Murguia-Ortiz, 27, is also running for Senate District 17 as an independent. Murguia-Ortiz, whose family works in meat packing in Sioux City, was born there and organized in immigrant communities through the Migrant Justice Movement.

At the start of the pandemic, this was done virtually with migrants who were not prepared to defend themselves against COVID-19. More than 10 members of their extended family got it, including their mother, said Murguia-Ortiz, who uses the they/them pronouns: “There was no transparency. The workers were being told not to take this seriously,” they said. Some have been instructed not to tell anyone if they test positive. “Some weren’t allowed to bring their own masks.” Murguia-Ortiz teamed up with childhood friends of parents in meatpacking to help protect them.

During this time, they were also on the streets of Des Moines getting “stunned” and arrested with Black Liberation Movement protesters, then attending city council meetings, where “I learned a lot about power dynamics and the way decisions are made: “They favor those who already have power, they said.

In that sense, Murguia-Ortiz sees little difference between Democrats and Republicans. In both, “My Latino immigrant community feels abandoned.”

Continued:Rekha Basu: New Extremism in Iowa Legislature Targets Religious, Educational, and Medical Communities

Continued:Rekha Basu: From BLM activist to City Council candidate, Indira Sheumaker is a force in Des Moines

Sarah Trone Garriott: Incumbent in line to face the prominent Republican

Sarah Trone Garriott

Sen. Sarah Trone Garriott, the lone incumbent among that group, is moving from Windsor Heights Senate District 16 to District 14. She is doing so to avoid a primary with fellow Democrat, Sen. Claire Celsi of West Des Moines. A former hospital chaplain and Lutheran minister, she ousted an incumbent Republican in her current district. She says her top priority would be to make health care accessible and affordable. If she wins the nomination, she could arguably face the most controversial and conservative member of the Senate, its Speaker: Adel’s Jake Chapman. On Facebook, he called her without naming her “one of the most liberal senators in Iowa”.

Jaylen Cavil: Activist touts Medicaid and reproductive justice for all

Jaylen Cavil, running for Iowa House District 36 in Des Moines, was previously featured in my column for spearheading a humorous writing campaign for the Polk County Sheriff in November 2020. This was after a summer of protests with the Des Moines BLM . As this column noted, Election Day was also the day he was due to appear in court on a charge of disorderly conduct in connection with that activism.

All charges against him have been dropped, and his race is very real this time.

Jaylen Cavil

But at the time, he said his experiences of being charged with crimes and being tear gassed and harassed by police were good qualifications for the sheriff because he would understand what suspects have to go through.

Among his priorities are Medicaid and reproductive justice for all, tuition-free colleges and universities, the legalization of marijuana, transgender rights, and the abolition of immigration and customs. He has the endorsements of Democratic Representatives Ruth Ann Gaines of Des Moines and Ras Smith of Black Hawk County and Joe Henry, political director of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of Iowa.

Continued:Campaign forged in humor provides opportunity to highlight serious law enforcement issues

Continued:Rekha Basu: Shame on the Des Moines City Council for plotting to silence its only progressive black member

The filing deadline for most Iowa races is in a month

This is not a complete list. As Bleeding Heartland reports, there are other Democratic candidates in the race for House 36, Chris Disbro and Austin Baeth, who this column will go into in more detail later. Chances are there will be more across the state after the March 18 filing deadline.

These nominations are welcome and hopeful news for Iowans who want properly funded schools, teachers rewarded instead of threatened with lawsuits, voting rights promoted instead of trampled on, and much more from their elected officials. Stay tuned and get involved if you can.