Democratic congressional candidate Ryan Melton is pushing for “quality of life” investments.

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Democratic congressional candidate Ryan Melton said he wants to fix the problems that contribute to rural population loss.

Melton is challenging Republican incumbent Randy Feenstra to represent the 4th Congressional District. On the Des Moines Register’s political soapbox Monday, Melton said his opponent hasn’t done enough to improve the quality of life for Iowans.

“The reason it’s so important to worry about population decline is because if you’re losing the population base, it leaves your hospitals, businesses, schools and communities much more vulnerable,” Melton said in his speech .

He said he believes rural America can attract more young residents by investing in health care, child care and raising the minimum wage.

Attendees at the Iowa State Fair gather around Ryan Melton as he speaks on the soapbox stage Monday.

Melton said a lack of funding for education is also hurting Iowa’s growth potential. He said he’s making kids fall through the cracks.

“The only person who will educate our children about a future, including college and other options, is a public school teacher,” he said. “But if we’re underpaying them and overworking them, they’re going to miss those opportunities all the time.”

The 4th District has long been a conservative stronghold for the state. Former MP Steve King held the seat for two decades, until he was stripped of his committee duties. Feenstra defeated him in the 2020 Republican primary.

Melton criticized Feenstra for his response to the Jan. 6 riots. In the days following the uprising, Feenstra said a “wonderful group” of the demonstrators got carried away.

It is the right of all Americans to peacefully protest. Violence is never the answer. Thank you to the Capitol Police for working today and every day to protect us

If you or someone you know is part of the protest, please stay calm and ask others to do the same. The world is watching

— Rep. Randy Feenstra (@RepFeenstra) January 6, 2021

“My opponent has yet to reject, rescind or revoke the endorsement he received from Donald Trump in early June of this year,” Melton said. “And, in my view, accepting the endorsement of Donald Trump is a rejection of American democracy.”

Melton also promised to try to make Iowa safer for people of color, LGBTQ people and pregnant people after Roe v. Wade.

The Nevada native ended his speech with a call to implement more climate change mitigations.

He applauded Iowa’s participation in wind power, but said he opposes building carbon capture and sequestration pipelines across Iowa. Summit Carbon Solutions, Navigator CO2 and Archer-Daniels Midland have proposed building these pipelines across the state, touting their ability to remove carbon dioxide from the air.

But Melton said he doesn’t believe the technology is a climate solution and that companies shouldn’t be granted eminent domain to build a pipeline.

“Why would you put the burden of a risk of a carbon capture pipeline leak? Why would you put that burden on us, on our shoulders, on the ground, just so corporations can make massive profits from it Melton said.

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