By Aaron Riggs
OTTUMWA (IA) – Three candidates are running for the open seat in the Iowa House of Representatives’ District 80. Those running for the two-year term are incumbent Larry Sheets (R), Levi Grenko (D), and Garrett Byrd (LP).
Sheets is seeking his third term as a representative. He’s 73-years-old and resides on his farm outside of Moulton, Iowa. He has a history in electrical engineering holding 16 patents, tree farming, and teaching. He and his wife have 10 children.
Byrd is 25-years-old and lives on a farm outside of Mystic, Iowa with his wife and one child. He’s an air force veteran currently attending school at Indian hills. Byrd says he’s running for office to stop government from taking away individual’s freedom and liberties.
Grenko is also 25-years-old and lives in Centerville where he was born and raised. He graduated from the University of Iowa, and then started a business managing social media accounts for clients. Grenko says he’s running for office because he believes he has the strength, fire, and passion to fight for his district at the statehouse.
KYOU asked each candidate about their position on budget priorities and taxes. Here’s a portion of what they had to say:
“It’s not going to do much good if we give all the money to education and there’s nothing left for the other functions,” says Sheets. “If education is the most important, which is the way that we believe it is, those kids have got to be healthy though, when they go to school or they won’t learn anything, and if they aren’t healthy or if they are healthy but ride a bus and the roads are dangerous, that’s not good either. So you have to make sure there’s enough for transportation and then again children can be endangered on the way so the police force and the judicial have got to be funded. So our job, and what we’re paid to do, is to do the balancing act”. “I would raise taxes in wartime or an emergency situation or something like that”. “In the State of Iowa our corporate income tax is 12% and that’s the highest in the nation”. “And to increase the taxes if it drives company’s out is counterproductive,” says Sheets.
“I think that we should prioritize public schools and, as long as the government is going to be in control of it, roads and bridges,” says Byrd. “So a lot of the services that the government provides, why don’t we get the government to stop providing them and instead open that up to small businesses and local businesses to provide those services”. “We need to reallocate the existing funding and then cut it back. We don’t want to cut anything back quickly or abruptly. We want to make sure that there are private industries that fill the gap so that nobody’s left out in the cold”. “I don’t think that more funding is the answer. I think that more efficient use of tax dollars is the answer,” says Byrd.
“As a state of Iowa we give $611 million in just tax breaks and tax credits, and that’s a lot of money. And that’s per year and if we can redistribute that a little bit, you know, help a little bit these smaller businesses,” says Grenko. “But on top of that make sure the businesses that we have already that do provide good jobs that are doing just fine just a little bit less, I mean that does create a lot more income that we can invest towards giving to small businesses, helping our rural Iowa schools, infrastructure and making sure our water quality is great,” says Grenko.
Iowa’s temporary medical marijuana law will expire July 1st of next year. But a new law is expected to take shape during the next legislative session. So, we asked the candidates for their stance on medical marijuana. Here’s a portion of what they had to say:
“Doctors cannot legally, according to the drug enforcement agency, work with medical marijuana because it’s Schedule 1. So why the federal government doesn’t get off the pot and do their job and make it Schedule 2 so doctors can deal with this like any other drug, is beyond me,” says Sheets. “The best thing we can do as a state is say: for these kind of medicines we won’t arrest”. “But we don’t want to be like Colorado. We don’t want to be like California,” says Sheets.
“I’m pro medical marijuana ,” says Byrd. “There are 700 different ailments to the human body that we can cure”. “I would say that I’m in favor of legalizing marijuana because there’s a ton of different uses,” says Byrd.
“As a state are we ready to move forward in legalizing marijuana? That’s probably a different issue and I don’t know where I’m at on that. But for oils and medicinal use marijuana for medical purposes absolutely I would be in favor of that. If it helps people, of course I’m going to be in favor of it,” says Grenko.
Watch the extended, full interview with the candidates below.
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