Meet the candidates: Freese, Sweeney outline positions on key issues before special election

Robert Maharry

The expansive, mostly rural areas of Butler, Grundy, Hardin and Story Counties that comprise state senate district 25 will move into the spotlight next Tuesday as a special election to fill a seat vacated by former Majority Leader Bill Dix could set the tone for November and play a crucial role in determining the balance of power in Des Moines.
Two women with impressive resumes will be on the ballot: Tracy Freese, a 35-year-old small business owner and former banker from Dike, has received the Democratic party’s nomination, and Annette Sweeney, 60, of rural Buckeye, a farmer, former state representative and most recently the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Executive Director for Rural Development in Iowa, is the GOP candidate.
The winner will serve the remainder of Dix’s term and presumably run again in six months for a chance at a full four years. Freese and Sweeney took time to answer a series of questions on marquee issues before the election, and their responses, in their own words, are printed below.
On taxes and the state budget
Freese: I oppose the $800 million special interest giveaway that passed the Senate. I know too many Iowa families that work too hard to see their money be given away in special interest handouts to whomever was able to afford the best lobbyist or contribute the most to a political campaign. We need to clean up the corruption in Des Moines and stop the handouts to special interests.
Sweeney: Iowa has the fourth highest personal income tax rate in the country. It is time to lower Iowa tax rates to attract employers to this state and improve career opportunities for Iowans. Additionally, low commodity prices create an urgency to couple Iowa’s tax law with many of the federal changes to provide tax relief to many in the agricultural community. 
On education
Freese: The fact that our elected officials have allowed Iowa’s education to drop below number one in the nation is unacceptable. Every family I know wants their kids to have access to a quality education. We must do whatever is necessary to ensure that we fully fund our public schools and restore Iowa’s place as the best state for education. The state already provides significant funding to private school students. Any proposal to expand that funding should be viewed in light of whether or not the state is adequately funding public K-12 schools.
Sweeney: As a former teacher and mother of two, I know how important education is for Iowa students. Iowa education was recently ranked in the top five in the nation by US News and World Report, but we can never be satisfied. We must continue to improve education and make sure our students are prepared for the next generation of careers.
On gun rights
Freese: I support the Second Amendment and will never vote to deny any family the right to own a firearm. As a mom of three, I also believe it is important we keep guns out of the hands of criminals by doing common sense things like ensuring universal background checks.
Sweeney: I am a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights. Law abiding gun owners should not have their rights infringed.
Read the rest of their responses in this week's Grundy Register. Subscribe by calling (319) 824-6958 or clicking here. 

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