Rep. Axne claims she is “the number one target in this country” for midterm elections at Jefferson visit
By SARAH STORTZ and BRANDON HURLEY
Just a few months away from the midterms — where she’ll run in a highly contested election — U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne visited Greene Bean Coffee in Jefferson to speak with constituents about her campaign.
Since her first victory against Republican David Young in 2018, Axne is the representative for Iowa’s 3rd congressional district. In the new redistricting map released this year, Greene County will be included in the district.
In 2017, Axne said decided to run for her seat because she was “fed up” following the election of Former President Donald Trump.
After the 2020 election, Axne remains the sole Democrat from Iowa to represent the state in Washington D.C.
“This seat is so important folks, that the pathway to hold our democracy goes right through this district,” Axne said. “This is one of the three top races in the whole country. I’ve been number one, two and three targeted the whole time. I think I was two last year, three the year before. I’m the number one target in the country right now.”
Axne will face Republican Zach Nunn, who has been Iowa State Senator from the 15th district since 2019, in November.
Axne spoke out against Nunn for his stance on abortion. During a Republican primary debate last summer, when asked if he believed abortion should be banned without exception, Nunn raised his hand.
A few months later, Nunn told reporters he supports legal exceptions for abortions, including rape and incest.
Following the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June, Axne said she feels confident “Iowans care about women’s rights.”
According to Pew Research Center, 61 percent of U.S. adults say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
“Iowa is a very independent state and what they don’t like to see are people’s rights being trampled on, so I’m hoping that that will translate here in Iowa,” Axne said.
Since the announcement, Axne said she’s appreciative of seeing more men speak out against the ruling.
“I know a lot of women who have worked on this issue since even before I was born,” Axne said. “I’ve got a neighbor, this has been her lifeblood, to ensure that women have the freedom that they deserve, but it’s so refreshing and nice to see men stepping up to say, ‘this isn’t the country that I raised my daughter in, this isn’t the country that I thought my granddaughter should be in.’”
One constituent asked Axne what she’ll do to protect the LGBT community, specifically transgender youth.
In response, Axne said the current generation of kids have undergone difficult events throughout their childhood, such as 9/11, active shooter drills and the COVID-19 pandemic, saying “it’s a tough world for them to be in. Our LGBTQ and trans youth, it’s even tougher.”
In Iowa and across this country, Axne said too many people have tried to actively exclude transgender youth.
“I will always support our LGBTQ youth and trans youth in this state and across this country,” Axne said. “We need to make sure that we have more organizations to support them at every level, children at every level as well. We need to make sure that our schools are welcoming and supportive. . .we need to make sure that communities have the support and we have those specialists.”
OUT ON THE TOWN
After her meet and greet, Axne then hopped over to the Bell Tower for a bird’s eye view of the town, mingling with Jefferson Chamber staff members and other important figures.
She listened to the remarkable progress the county has made over the years, to the long tradition of the bell tower, to the erection of the Wild Rose Casino, the new Greene County high school as well as the downtwon rennovations and the Centennial restaraunt and various art projects.
Axne was impressed with Jefferson and Greene County’s ability to join forces and complete a multitude of tasks.
“I couldn’t agree with you more, we need to be promoting all this,” Axne said from the observation deck of the Bell Tower.
Peg Raney helped fill Axne in on Jefferson’s efforts to update a number of things around town, from the aforementioned high school to the increase in fiber optic internet throughout the county as well as new, state-of-the-art childcare center opening later this month.
“We feel that we have worked really hard in recent years to get our facilities to the place where we can check off all those things,” Raney said before transitioning the conversation to housing issues.
While a new apartment complex recently opened its doors and another is in the works at the old Greene County middle school, she said the community needs more help.
“Yes, that is an issue. I’m the vice chair of the subcommittee on housing, community development, and insurance and financial services committee. So getting housing out to our rural communities is a huge priority,” Axne said. “The chairwoman in particular is very focused on affordable housing. And I know she comes from a deep urban area, but she’s been leaning on me, I kind of have taken the lead because we need somebody that’s going to represent rural rural housing.
We’ve got businesses that want to come in, and just don’t, because, we just don’t have the housing in many areas,” Axne added. “Hopefully, Jefferson is doing better. And of course, proximity to other larger towns I’m sure helps. But I know, we want them to spend the money here in their community in town, to stay in the community and not drive (somewhere else).
Axne said she’s dedicated to imrpoving the issues across her district and the state.
“I’ve been working on housing issues within the USDA, things that I can have some control over,” she said. “So even using some of that housing, which is federally backed, to be able to use the funding differently in those USDA backed housing, which I have moved that agenda forward such that it doesn’t have to be new things, it can just be maintenance, which was one of the big issues with some of that USDA funding, you shouldn’t use it for maintenance. One of the best things you can be doing is maintaining.”
Jefferson’s continued push to provide opportunities for the arts was also discussed, with Deb McGinn praising the roof top art, the alley projects, as well as Greene County’s new performing arts theater at the high school. Axne agreed artistic talent is important to the overall growth of the county and the state.
“I think Iowa was poised, honestly, to be a major player in this country. It always has been, it needs to get back up to another level again,” Axne said. “Obviously, (we have) agriculture and small manufacturing, but to your point, we have a lot of other opportunities when you mentioned the fine arts facility. Wh are we not producing more arts kids coming out of this state?”