Polly Bukta

Party: Democrat; Age: 69

Residence: Clinton

Occupation: Retired educator, incumbent state representative

Political experience: Five terms in the Iowa General Assembly

Education: B.S. in elementary education, graduate work in English

Family: Husband Mike, two sons, one grandchild

What are the three most important issues in this race?

Making Iowa the “Green State,” learning and job training, business and workers.

What is your approach to these issues?

My approach would depend on if I am in the majority. If so, the Democratic Caucus will be setting the agenda and introducing much of our proposed priorities as original legislation. If not, I would likely be achieving my goals through the amendment process, or by seeking accommodations by forming partnerships and collaborations among my peers.

Iowa is at the mercy of price-gouging oil companies and volatile foreign governments. Because Iowa has energy alternatives — corn-based ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, soy-based diesel, biomass and wind energy, we can begin to break the stranglehold on our economy. Thousands of good jobs can be created and provide more national security through less reliance on foreign oil.

Young children need access to stimulating child care and preschool so they are prepared when they enter elementary school. Once in school, youngsters must be challenged with a rigorous curriculum that demands their best performance. To achieve this goal, we must have bright, highly qualified teachers.

College has become less affordable because in-state tuitions have increased by more than 50 percent in the past few years. We must lower tuition costs and limit future increases. Work-study programs should be expanded to help students pay their college costs.

We must expand job training and retraining opportunities at community colleges, including specialized business-specific training for our high-tech workers of the future. We also must give small businesses the power to pool their workforces so they have the ability to obtain cheaper health insurance rates for themselves and their employees and reduce commercial property taxes on Iowa businesses without shifting taxes to homes and farms, with the goal of making Iowa more competitive with states in our region.

How do you differ from your opponent?

I have no idea what his approach to public policy would be, much less what type of style he would use to address them. I have a 10-year record of constituent and community service, and will continue to keep this service as my top priority.

Les Shields

Party: Republican; Age: 55

Residence: 436 Mill Ridge Road, Clinton

Occupation: Retired (Captain with Clinton Police Department for 32 years)

Political experience: Three terms (nine years) on Clinton School Board, one year as board president

Education: Northeast High School (Goose Lake), Clinton Community College

Family: Wife Joanne; four adult children, five grandchildren

Web site: www.shieldsforlegislature.net

What are the three most important issues in this race?

Social Security and pension taxes, unequal property taxes and health care.

What is your approach to these issues?

Last year Iowa Republicans introduced a bill to repeal the Social Security and pension taxes. This was resisted by Democrats, who forced negotiations to phase them out over an eight-year period. This year, Iowa ended its budget year with a $330 million surplus. We can afford this repeal to compete with other states to keep our seniors in Iowa.

Out of 364 school districts, Clinton property taxes are the eighth highest in Iowa. This is because of a state-mandated formula for per-pupil equity in general education funding. With our lower property values and tax base, and higher student population, this formula taxes us at an unfairly higher rate. This formula accomplishes equity in per-pupil education funding at the expense of an unequal burden on the property taxpayer. I support finding ways to provide both per pupil and taxpayer equity that will not result in less money for our local schools.

Health care reform is vital to a solid future for Iowa. Listening to voters across the district, several suggestions have come up: health care pooling for small businesses; informing consumers of the costs associated with different health care alternatives; filling prescriptions with lower cost generic drugs whenever possible; incentives to encourage lower cost treatments before high cost medical tests; and even incentives for wellness programs to support employees complying with diet, exercise and lowering cholesterol.

How do you differ from your opponent?

My opponent wants to phase in Social Security and pension tax relief over eight years. We need to provide more support for our seniors, so I want it done now. My opponent has done nothing in 10 years to fix the state-mandated formula that causes unfair taxation to property owners in this district. I intend to start working on this immediately. My opponent allowed a quality health care pooling reform bill to be sabotaged by big insurance companies instead of standing up for businesses and families in Clinton. I refuse to be intimidated in the fight for quality health care reform.

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