OSAGE | On a very slick President’s Day in Osage, Congressional hopeful Thomas Heckroth spoke with a gathering of Mitchell County Democrats at Teluwut.
Heckroth, a sixth-generation Iowan, who grew up in Waverly, is the son of a state senator and former worker for Sen. Tom Harkin. He served as a Deputy Chief of Staff in the Bureau of International Labor Affairs, in the Obama Administration’s Department of Labor, with a focus on preventing child labor and human trafficking.
“To be a good representative, you have to listen,” Heckroth said, “You have to pay attention to the people and their needs. Tax cuts for billionaires and corporations aren’t going to trickle down. We need to get the economy moving in a way that benefits everyone.”
Heckroth expressed the importance of having a clear plan and idea in place, for what needs to be done, and answered some very tough questions posed to him, in regards to health care, gun control and environmental concerns.
“The first thing that needs to happen is the CDC needs to be allowed to study gun violence. The way we’ve solved deaths and injuries in car accidents is to study it,” Heckroth said. “In addition, the loopholes in background checks need to be closed, and I don’t think people who have been arrested for stalking and domestic abuse should have access to firearms.”
Some, like Jeanette Armstrong, said she believed gun owners should carry liability insurance for their firearms, like is required to have for a car, while others like Jonah Roney, 18, said he believed the age to purchase a firearm needed to be raised.
While the issue of mental health beds was also raised, especially in regards to a significant lack of them in Iowa, health care, specifically for the elderly and senior population, was a huge concern.
“We are leaving some of out most needy and vulnerable people behind,” Heckroth said. “It shouldn’t be an and/or situation in terms of quality versus fiscal responsibility. We shouldn’t have to worry if there will be enough quality nurses and doctors to take care of those who need care.
“We need to give incentives for home health individuals, to keep people in their homes longer. We are losing track of the long term impacts of the decisions that are being made and who those decisions are affecting.”
Air and water quality issues were also raised, along with concerns over election tampering, with a majority of those in attendance in favor of using a backup, paper ballot system as a way to avoid cyber attacks.
“A clean environment is what makes Iowa what it is. I am a big proponent of being a responsible steward of the environment, putting in solar panels and taking away coal fire power sources will be important moving forward,” he said. “We have an opportunity in Iowa to lead the country again in terms of environmental reforms. It’s not a matter of if a pipeline will spill, but when it will spill, we need to move towards greater sustainability.”