David John (right), a retired Jefferson-Scranton teacher, speaks Sunday with Democratic candidate for governor Nate Boulton in Jefferson. Boulton is making education spending a priority in his campaign and wants to see stronger collective-bargaining positions for teachers. DOUGLAS BURNS | JEFFERSON HERALD

Boulton in Jefferson: Return local control

Gubernatorial candidate pitches local control of CAFOs, schools

By DOUGLAS BURNS
d.burns@carrollspaper.com

Steve Brannan, a retired John Deere employee living in Panora, said he sees parallels between state Sen. Nate Boulton and Tom Vilsack.

It is possible to rise from the relative obscurity of an Iowa Senate district and defeat a well-known Republican, as Vilsack — who would go on to serve as governor and U.S. secretary of agriculture — did in 1998 in his race with former Congressman Jim Ross Lightfoot, who came into the contest heavily favored and holding a massive name ID advantage, Brannan observed.

For his part, Boulton, a policy wonk in the vein of Vilsack, is running in a crowded Democratic gubernatorial primary field for the chance to challenge sitting Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Boulton met Sunday with a dozen voters in the Market Grille restaurant at Hy-Vee in Jefferson before heading to Carroll, where the state senator, an avid marathoner, ran at Swan Lake State Park. He then talked with top Democrats in Audubon.

In Jefferson, Boulton said Republicans, with control of Terrace Hill and both chambers of the Legislature, have stripped away local control — making it impossible for counties to set their own minimum wage, harder for counties to manage large livestock operations and challenging for school districts as teachers have diminished collective-bargaining power.

“We’ve seen basically this state walk away from local control,” Boulton said.

Chuck Offenburger, of Cooper, a former Des Moines Register columnist who continues to write for a website and other publications, says Iowa needs an infusion of young leadership, of more candidates in their 30s and younger. Boulton is 37.

Boulton said his campaign is designed to cut across demographic lines, mainly the urban-rural divide.

While he lives in East Des Moines and represents that area, Boulton, a labor attorney, grew up in a blue-collar union household in Columbus Junction with ties to a Century Farm.

Water quality, good hunting and fishing, are shared values for rural and urban Iowans, he said.

Boulton complimented Greene County on its plan to recruit and develop an Iowa Central Community College regional center in Jefferson as part an ambitious plan to improve the Greene County Community School District.

Iowa is an outstanding education state because students have many paths to success, whether in state schools, private institutions or community colleges, Boulton said.

Boulton also says the state’s tax-credit system benefits too few large businesses. He has proposed caps on certain credits.

“The corporate coupon economics are essentially quicksand,” Boulton said.

Boulton also believes his background will help him win back working-class voters, including many in unions, who voted for Republicans in 2016.

“I believe this 2018 election is a fight for the soul of our state,” Boulton said.

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