State Rep. Jerry Kearns (D-Keokuk) says he has the experience needed to help create and retain jobs in Lee County and Iowa as a whole.
Kearns has served in Des Moines for the last four years, representing House District 92, which includes Keokuk, Fort Madison and southern Lee County.
He wants to remain on the job in the new District 83, created during redistricting, which adds a couple of townships in the northeast corner of Lee County.
Kearns also touts his nearly 20 years on the Lee County Board of Supervisors.
“That is something that does make it a plus,” says Kearns, “when you send someone to the legislature with experience. I also have a desire to serve and I continue to have that.”
Kearns says no matter the shape of the district, the biggest issues are “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs,” which is a phrase he has been using for several years.
His plan for creating or retaining jobs starts with a well-educated workforce.
Kearns does not believe the state has a good enough system in place, which is why he wants to see more money provided to community college for targeted job training.
“This is probably one area where we are lacking,” says Kearns. “We need to get with our community colleges and help them develop a more tailored educational system for the location where they are involved.”
Kearns says he could get behind a plan to gradually reduce commercial property taxes by 40%-50% over 8-10 years or more. He says any plan, though, must provide money to cities and counties to make up for the lost revenue.
Kearns says he would also push to re-open the workforce development centers that were closed as part of a budget-cutting plan by Iowa Workforce Development.
He says the workforce “kiosks” are not the same for out-of-work Iowans as it is to work with a trained professional face-to-face, adding that the closures is costing the state federal funding.
Kearns says his vision for education includes a commitment to fully-funding preschool and other new programs and more communication with teachers to see what they really need to thrive in the classroom.
“Those people who have contact with the students,” says Kearns. “The person doing the job, regardless of what it is, teaching, in a plant or in a business, they know the job best. They know what they need and they know what is required and I think we have failed to do that to a great extent.”
Kearns says he supports the incentives provided to Iowa Fertilizer Company, but acknowledges that multi-million dollar packages may not be available for every project interested in coming to Iowa.
Kearns says he would probably support an 8-10 cent increase in the gasoline tax and oppose a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.