U.S. Rep. John Delaney, a Maryland Democrat, talks with about 35 Panora-area residents about the issues he sees in Washington D.C., Thursday afternoon at PJ’s Drive-In in Panora.
U.S. Rep. John Delaney, a Maryland Democrat, talks with about 35 Panora-area residents about the issues he sees in Washington D.C., Thursday afternoon at PJ’s Drive-In in Panora.

August 16, 2018

PANORA

Under a shaded awning, Guthrie County-area residents gathered together to listen to the words of three campaigning Democrats last week.

John Delaney, a Maryland Democrat currently serving as a U.S. Representative and running for president; Tim Gannon, an Iowa candidate for secretary of agriculture; and Cindy Axne, a small business owner-turned-candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Iowa’s 3rd District, all met at PJ’s Drive-In in Panora Thursday afternoon.

The politicians spoke to a crowd of about 35 people about their campaigns and plans to reform and help push Iowa forward if they elected in the midterm races Nov. 6.

First to speak was Tim Gannon, an Iowa native who grew up on a family farm in Jasper County.

Gannon spoke about his concerns with Iowa’s trading due to recent tariffs imposed on the state’s agriculture products, especially soybeans, which were the largest farm export to China in 2017.

“What we’re seeing right now out in rural Iowa is pretty concerning,” Gannon said. “We were already looking at a pretty soft agriculture economy in USDA, where I worked for (former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture) Tom Vilsack for eight years. Back in February, they announced the farm economy would be down for the fifth time in the past six years. We’re seeing nothing but lower prices for everything we grow and raise here in Iowa.”

He spoke about Iowa’s economy and how it is reliant on agriculture. If farmers aren’t doing well, it affects every Iowan, Gannon said.

If our farmers aren’t doing well, all businesses in our small towns — the banks, the seed dealers, the car dealers, the diners and restaurants — are going to struggle,” he said. “I don’t want to see Iowa become a state where we struggle.”

Next to speak was Cindy Axne, a fifth-generation Iowan with hopes of unseating Republican David Young in this fall’s midterm elections.

Young was first elected 3rd District representative in 2014, succeeding fellow Republican Tom Latham, and he was re-elected in 2016. The 3rd District covers the southwest Iowa and includes Guthrie County.

Axne said her campaign is centered around getting Iowa Democrats to work together.

“At the state level, and at the federal level, there are so many connections that we can be creating, and at the local level, to make sure that we are really putting forward policy and outcomes that really are going to help Iowans,” she said. “We need someone that is going to stand up to this administration and make sure we protect hardworking Iowans.”

Axne said it doesn’t matter what political party Iowans are — in the end, she stands with all of them.

“I know we’ve got incredible people in this state, and if they understand the choice that they have, they’re going to vote for me,” she said.

To wrap up the afternoon, John Delaney, who was completing his 84th stop of the 99 counties in Iowa Thursday afternoon, spoke very highly of Iowa Democrats Gannon, Axne and Fred Hubbell — Iowa’s Democratic candidate for governor.

Delaney said that right now, Iowa’s ag economy is being misguided, and voters are starting to feel the effects.

“At the end of the day, what really matters are those pocketbook issues: people’s jobs, their pay, the opportunities for their children, their health care, their education — that’s what really matters to most voters,” he said.

The son of a union electrician, Delaney said he supports organized labor and will fight to support workers in Iowa.

“I believe strongly that supporting unions is actually supporting workers’ rights,” he said. “It’s not just the people in the unions that do well — it’s everyone.”

Delaney added that a vote for Hubbell will be the step in the right direction when it comes to reforming Medicaid in Iowa.

“You’re going to elect Fred Hubbell as your governor, and he’s going to fix that,” Delaney said. “He’s running for the right reasons.”

When it comes to enhancing education in rural areas of Iowa and attracting and retaining skilled workers, Delaney said he has a plan.

It’s threefold: promote and encourage more public investment in areas like Panora through infrastructure and attract more private investors, create cost-free community colleges and create an incentive for government contractors to move into distressed areas, he said.

“I would have my whole agenda getting private and public involved into these communities, and then you enhance that risk, creating the ability for kids to get through community college as part of public education,” Delaney said. “Then you’ve got a trained workforce and you’ve got a demand coming into these communities.”

Delaney said he is calling on all Democrats to step forward to work together and take the country back.

What we need to do as a party is we need to be able to (unify) all of these voters,” he said. “If we do that, we will win every election in this country, and we will govern. This is the opportunity for the Democratic Party. It’s what the country needs. We’ve always responded to the call.”