Decision 2020: Mariannette Miller-Meeks, U.S. House Iowa District 2
(KWQC) - Note: TV6 reached out to state and federal candidates with a list of questions aimed at helping voters make an informed decision in the 2020 General Election.
The questionnaires will be posted to our special election website, www.kwqc.com/decision2020.
TV6 does not endorse any candidates.
Name: Mariannette Miller-Meeks
Education: Texas Christian University, bachelor of science in nursing, 1976; University of Southern California, master’s degree in education, 1980; University of Texas-San Antonio, medical degree, 1986.
Occupation: Ophthalmologist, state senator
Experience: nurse/ophthalmologist U.S. Army, 1974-82; U.S. Army Reserve, 1982-99, retired as a lieutenant colonel; ophthalmology professor, University of Iowa, 1994-97; ophthalmologist, private practice, 1997-2010.
What is the most important issue facing the state of Iowa, and how would you address it if elected?
Right now, the most important issue facing Iowa, and our country, is the crippling COVID-19 pandemic. As a doctor and former director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, I have a lengthy career in medicine and in public health. The federal government needs to ensure that the states are getting the resources and funding they need to test, trace, and combat this virus. On top of it, the people of Iowa need an economic relief package. Our small businesses are struggling to stay open and people have become jobless.
How do you rate the nation/state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic so far? What would you do differently, and why?
I think hindsight is always 20/20 and that it is not productive to point fingers while this pandemic is still happening. As I have said before, the federal government can play a role to help states secure the resources they need to combat this virus and get it under control. We also need to make sure the infrastructure is in place to quickly develop and distribute a vaccine once there has been one properly approved.
What will you do or advocate to help those who are out of work and those who are in need of housing?
The best thing we can do is having apprenticeships and job training that prepare our workers for the jobs of the 21st century. Congress should pass a needed infrastructure plan that could put people back to work building locks and dams, roads, bridges, and expanding access to broadband.
In terms of needed housing, we can enter into public/private partnerships to build affordable homes for those in need.
Recent Pew Research data shows 49% of voters expect to have difficulty casting a ballot for the November election. What is your reaction to this belief, and what needs to be done?
The Pew poll reflects national sentiment. In Iowa, many voters are accustomed to casting absentee ballots without problems. In the state senate, we passed legislation that helps voters cast an absentee ballot, and keep that ballot safe and secure. I have confidence that Iowa’s votes will be able to be cast in a fair and timely manner.
There has been a renewed discussion, both locally, statewide, and nationally, about policing reform since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Do you think reforms are needed and, if so, what might those changes look like?
The Republican-controlled Iowa legislature introduced and enacted policing reforms on June 11, and Gov. Kim Reynolds signed that legislation into law the very next day. I voted for those reforms and was proud to do so.
House File 2647 prohibits the use of a chokehold in an arrest, except when a person cannot be captured any other way or has used or threatened deadly force. It prevents an officer from being hired in Iowa if they have a previous felony conviction, were fired for misconduct, or left their job before they could be fired for misconduct. It allows the Iowa attorney general to prosecute a criminal offense committed by an officer if their actions result in the death of another, and it mandates annual anti-bias and de-escalation training for law enforcement.
The bill, which was supported by the Iowa Peace Officers Association, was crafted in the wake of George Floyd’s death and provides additional accountability for law enforcement that benefits our communities and law enforcement personnel. It passed the Iowa House 98-0 and the Iowa Senate 49-0. This was a good first step but we still have more work to do.
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