Decision 2020: Ryan Zeskey, candidate, Iowa House of Representatives District 97
(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: Ryan Zeskey
Education: Associates Degree from Black Hawk College in Moline, IL
Occupation: Husband, father, veteran
Experience: U.S. Navy, Active duty 4 ½ years onboard USS Thomas S Gates, Navy Reservist 1 ½ years stationed at Rock Island Arsenal
Campaign website: voteryanzeskey.com
Campaign Facebook: facebook.com/ryanzeskeyforiowa97
Campaign Twitter: @VOTEzeskey2020
What is the most important issue facing the state of Iowa, and how would you address it if elected?
Healthcare in Iowa is on very shaky ground. Ever since former Gov Branstad and GOP legislators privatized Medicaid in 2016, Iowa’s healthcare situation has been in a downward spiral. The stated intent of the law was to save state and taxpayer dollars. Years later, there is now a privatized healthcare monopoly in Iowa, established by GOP lawmakers, which opposes changes to the system through lobbying efforts to maintain their profit share. At the state level, de-privatizing state Medicaid and expanding eligibility while increasing quality can be done. At the national level, protecting the Affordable Care Act and introducing a public option, as Joe Biden has promised as president, would provide access to Iowans and reintroduce competition into the market. Healthcare should be a right in America, not a privilege.
How would you rate the nation/state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic so far? What would you do differently, and why?
With the most cases of coronavirus of any country in the world, and with more deaths from COVID-19 than any country in the world, our national response to the coronavirus reflects a complete failure of leadership. The same could be said of our state leadership, as Iowa continues to top lists of outbreaks of coronavirus as well as COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. Back in March of this year, the school district that my family lives in, and the elementary school that my two sons attend, canceled in-person learning. To facilitate their learning, to care for my family, and to respect the scientific recommendations of the medical community, I quit my job at that time. Because our Governor has yet to prove capable of utilizing science to protect Iowans (faulty data, changing metrics, not following CDC guidance, shielding industry from lawsuits for failure to protect their workers, no mask requirements, mandating 50% in-person schooling, bars and restaurants opening/closing/reopening, etc.), along with my wife, I feel responsible for the health and safety of my family. To provide that, my boys learn 100% online and I spend my days with them shepherding them through their 1st and 4th-grade curricula and campaign in the evenings and on weekends.
I am on the record as approving of the mask mandate called for on July 5th, 2020 by Muscatine Mayor Diana Broderson during a radio interview I had with WQUD-FM 107.7 host Aaron Dail on July 6th, 2020. Gov Reynolds negated that mandate. Masks have been proven to be the most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and excuses not to do it are just that, excuses. The president, the governor, and GOP leaders have attempted to make masks a political issue. On September 24th, 2020, Rep. Norlin Mommsen commented on “mask wearers” in the pejorative at the DeWitt Chamber & Development Company candidate forum. Today we have learned that the president is COVID positive. It is not a political issue.
What would you do or advocate to help those who are out of work and those who are in need of housing?
The losses in the job market due to COVID-19, especially in the service sector, have exposed great inequities in our economy. The HEROES Act, passed by the U. S House of Representatives, would provide a much-needed safety net to citizens at a time of financial uncertainty. Gov Reynolds has touted $305 million cash on hand at the state level. That money could be used to help keep small businesses afloat or to invest in urban renewal projects like affordable housing. Public / private partnerships are also a possible solution in some areas. Assuming Iowa and the nation finally prioritize safety and containing the spread of coronavirus (and restaurants and movie theaters and the like can reopen), Iowa should raise the minimum wage to be competitive with our neighboring states at $9 per hour or greater. Encourage apprenticeship programs and community college training that allows workers to gain experience while earning certification in a field. Stop corporate tax giveaways that would otherwise bolster state funds and ease these inequities upon the lower and middle classes.
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?
Court after court has upheld the voting rights of Americans, despite GOP litigation to suppress the vote across the U.S. this year. Postal workers continue to serve our communities day and night, despite what appears to have been an attempt at outright sabotage of the USPS by the Postmaster General. Mail-in voting has taken place in the U.S. for over 150 years and it has been proven to be a reliable method of voting, despite the president lying about it. I consider the county auditors for District 97 – Roxanna Moritz in Scott Co and Eric Van Lancker in Clinton Co – fine public servants who will operate with integrity. It is another case of weaponizing politics to interfere with the public good.
I am advocating for all eligible voters to vote. Register to vote if you have never voted before. Double-check your registration if you believe you are registered. Help others register. Vote early if you can. Vote by mail if you choose. Or vote in-person on or before November 3rd, 2020. Please exercise your most powerful right as a citizen and vote.
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?
Criminal justice reform is overdue in America. For-profit prisons create the wrong incentives for incarceration. Many non-violent offenses, such as drug use alone, need not require jail sentences. Having a mental health crisis should not necessarily result in incarceration. Mandatory minimum sentences are often inappropriate. Placing an emphasis on rehabilitation eases the economic burden of incarceration. Police have among the hardest jobs in America. Provide police with more training and services beyond just tactical weaponry. Recruit police from the communities they serve. Consent decrees, like those used during the Obama years, can detect and disrupt unlawful police practices.
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