Iowa Sen. Pam Jochum’s bid for re-election pits her against her most formidable opponent in recent years in challenger Jennifer Smith. Smart and articulate with a good grasp of the issues, Smith would make a solid representative in Des Moines.
But as Jochum completes her 28th year in the Iowa Legislature, she remains engaged, knowledgeable and diligent in her work on behalf of not only her constituents but all Iowans. Citizens of the state and of the Dubuque area have a stalwart advocate in Jochum, a Democrat.
The Telegraph Herald Editorial Board endorses Jochum’s bid for a fourth four-year term in the Iowa Senate.
As a veteran of the Capitol, Jochum knows how to get things done — even when her party is in the minority. She understands the nuance of the legislative process and has long been committed to transparency in government. She has used her deep roots to form relationships with elected officials on both sides of the aisle, as well as at state departments. That connectedness pays dividends when it comes to amending legislation to make it better — something for which Jochum has long had a knack.
Jochum’s effectiveness as a legislator is best showcased in her advocacy for the state’s most vulnerable people. As the mother of a special-needs daughter, Jochum never needs reminding about the challenges people face, whether those challenges are medical, financial or emotional.
While she is ready to tackle big issues, such as creating a more progressive corporate tax structure, Jochum sees areas the state needs to address, even when they are not making headlines. For instance, on her to-do list is creating some state standards around homeschooling for the protection of children and expanding unemployment insurance to cover gig workers.
Were it not for Jochum’s proven strength in leadership, Smith would be a solid option for the Senate seat. An economics professor, Smith places education as a top priority, noting that she has seen troubling decay in the grasp of knowledge students bring to college.
Smith, a Republican, sees students as being too dependent on technology and struggling with basic reading, math, writing and little understanding of history. To address that, she would like to see greater autonomy for teachers and more rigorous guidelines for curriculum — two things that could be in conflict at times.
Smith brings big ideas, like changes to the insurance industry — such as creating a high-risk pool in health insurance, opening up the ability to purchase insurance across state lines and shifting the health insurance tax credit from employers to employees. She supports changing the corporate tax structure and would consider decreasing income taxes.
Asked about the decline in revenue such changes would create, Smith relied on a version of the “trickle down economics” theory, suggesting that cutting taxes will stimulate the economy enough to offset the lost revenue. There might be a bit of political naivety in that statement, but Smith has a good grasp of a variety of issues.
Suggestions that Jochum falls into the “career politician” mold don’t really gain traction with anyone who has paid attention to Jochum’s track record. She’s been a tireless voice for Iowans, particularly those who have no voice of their own. That has been her motivation, not gaining political clout.
Jochum’s extensive knowledge of the issues, the legislative process and her record of accomplishment have served Senate District 50 well, and she should be returned to the Senate.