Iowa Democratic gubernatorial candidate Deidre DeJear said Saturday she would prioritize investment in public education and mental health care if elected this fall.
Speaking at Des Moines Register Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair, said Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds is starving state systems.
DeJear said $1.5 billion in taxpayer dollars is in a state trust fund.
“This is Iowa’s rainy day fund, and in our state it rains on mental health care, education, health care and child care,” DeJear said. “We need to have leadership that uses your resources, not shirks the problem.”
DeJear said spending more on education could help retain teachers and school staff, expand access to early childhood education and ensure high school graduates are ready for college or technical school.
And she said she continues to hear stories of people struggling to access mental health care, even after Reynolds and the Iowa Legislature recently created a state mental health framework and changed the financing structure. He told reporters that he would not want to spend all of the state’s savings.
DeJear said Iowa led the way in desegregating schools, electing the first black president and legalizing same-sex marriage.
“We don’t lack vision,” DeJear said. “We just need leadership that is one, willing to turn on the lights for us, and two, willing to get out of our way.”
He also said that this election is also about freedom, especially the freedom to vote, and people’s freedom to choose whether they want to have an abortion.
DeJear lives in Des Moines and owns a small business that helps other small businesses. She became the first black woman from Iowa to be nominated by a major political party to run for statewide office when she ran for secretary of state in 2018.
Starting Saturday, Reynolds didn’t appear on Soapbox’s speaker line-up. All candidates for state office were invited to speak.
Announcing his re-election campaign in March, Reynolds said this election would be about who will promote freedom. One of his top legislative priorities continues to push for state-funded scholarships so some children can go to private schools.
Libertarian Rick Stewart is also running for governor this year.