Meet the candidates 2018: Senate District 25

Annette Sweeney (left) and Tracy Freese (right). 

(Editor’s note: This is the second installment in a two-part series about the local state legislature candidates and their political positions. The election is set for November 6.)

Does this whole routine feel familiar?


The sudden resignation of former State Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix (R-Shell Rock) in March left an open seat in district 25—which covers southern Butler County, northern and eastern Story County, and all of Grundy and Hardin Counties—that has since been filled by Annette Sweeney of rural Buckeye, a farmer, former State Representative and former United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Director of Rural Development in Iowa. Sweeney defeated Democrat Tracy Freese of Dike, a small business owner and former banker who had announced plans to run eight months prior to Dix’s ouster.


After winning the special election with about 56 percent of the votes cast on April 10, Sweeney served out the remainder of Dix’s term, and she’ll now seek a full four years if she can best Freese for the second time in seven months in a district that traditionally leans strongly Republican.


Ahead of the November 6 election, Freese and Sweeney took time to answer a host of questions on a variety of topics submitted by The Grundy Register, and their responses are printed below.


On the general direction of the state and the budget

Tracy Freese: I am cautious about Iowa’s long-term financial strength. Mid-year budget cuts to state colleges prevented a shortfall this year but cannot shoulder the burden every time Republicans want to cut taxes.


I am all for middle-class tax cuts and staying competitive so long as education, public safety, and human services are sufficiently funded. Long-term investments in education and job training would be my priority if elected. Working families shouldn’t see their money given away to whatever special interest has the best lobbyist. Tax giveaways don’t make Iowa competitive – a skilled labor force does.


Annette Sweeney: The state is absolutely on the right path. Iowa is growing. Businesses are growing, our economy is growing and Iowans are investing in themselves and their communities.


Watching the Statehouse for the past few years, it was obvious to see the budget problems they had as the budget continued to balloon and multiply. This year we got our priorities in order and got our budget under control, resulting in a surplus larger than we expected.


That is great news for our state and shows an increase in stability and fiscal responsibility under Iowa Republicans. In the coming year, we can continue to focus on our priorities and Iowa families. We can look at how we can return their hard-earned money back to them and continue to fund the most important things in our state.


On the farm economy, conservation and water quality issues

Freese: Our legislature has to take immediate action to stop the President’s tariffs from hurting Iowa farmers. One of the main things that we can do is secure new markets for commodity exports.


Iowa legislators can incentivize and develop local food supply chains. We can also take a look at seed prices in the state of Iowa, which account for a large portion of production costs. Conservation and water quality are common sense reforms that responsible farmers across the state already work toward. Buffer zones and cover crops can dramatically reduce runoff from our fields into watersheds.


Maintaining soil quality, reducing erosion, and pollution in our streams, rivers, and lakes should be a priority. Iowa needs to revisit and reform its Master Matrix while passing soil and water quality legislation that doesn’t negatively affect its valued farmers.


Sweeney: One of the very first votes I got to take in the Iowa Senate was for our tax bill, passing the largest tax cut in Iowa history. Part of this tax bill was making changes to coupling Section 179 and over the next several years, increasing the deduction for farmers and small businesses and making it permanent.


Our tax bill works to support our state’s producers and farmers and allows them to focus on feeding our state, the country and the rest of the world. This is a great example of things we can do to support our state’s agricultural industry and make it easier for them to be successful. I would also like to work on expanding uses for our agricultural products such as ethanol, alternative feed, aquaculture and specialty crops (organics, cover crop seed, wine, orchards, berry and nut production).


Conservation and water quality are high on my list. As an Iowa Environmental Leader award recipient, I have been using conservation on our farms, and our family is a 15-year member of the Southfork Watershed Alliance. I am excited to take that experience and data to the Capitol. 


Read the full story in this week's Grundy Register. Subscribe by calling (319) 824-6958 or clicking here.