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The June 2 primary election features a two-man race for the Republican nomination for Iowa Senate District 12:
Mark Costello of Imogene, the incumbent District 12 senator, raises corn and soybeans on the family farm. Formerly, he was a computer programmer/analyst with Garst Seed Company for several years before coming back to the farm.
Richard Crouch of Malvern has farmed for over 50 years and served as a Mills County supervisor for the past 18 years.
Iowa Senate District 12 covers Fremont, Mills, Montgomery, Page, Ringgold, and Taylor counties. The seat was formerly held by U.S. Senator Joni Ernst.
As in the past elections, the Record-News has asked the candidates to respond to a brief set of questions aimed at providing voters insight into the candidates’ positions.
Their answers are presented here in their entirety with only minor editorial changes, if necessary.
[Candidates running unopposed in their party’s primary are not included in this series of articles.]
RN: Please list your involvement in community activities.
Crouch: As past president of youth wrestling club, built a 40 x 100 building for youth of community. President of parent family group at Glenwood Resource Center. Past member of Glenwood Lions Club.
Costello: I attend many meetings throughout the 12th district related to agriculture, health care, economic development, energy and other interests. This past year, I was involved in many meetings and activities related to the flood as well. I am also very active as an elder in my church.
RN: What is your experience in government and/or leadership positions, decision-making positions, etc:
Costello: In the Iowa Senate I serve as the chair of the Ethics Committee as well as chair of the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee. I have been in the Iowa Senate since 2014 and previously served in the Iowa House, where I was the vice chair for the Health and Human Resources Budget Subcommittee.
Crouch: Township clerk since the early 70s, fence disputes, etc.; served on fair board; past 18 years as county supervisor; I serve on many county boards where we make major decisions monthly – SWIPCO, Veterans Affairs, MAPA, E911, mental health board (nine counties), County Board of Adjustment, city planning and zoning, emergency management, Nishna Production, Board of Directors of Iowa State Association of Counties (second vice president).
RN: Please provide your views on how the Iowa legislature should address the following issues important to Iowa voters:
Crouch: I feel the whole system of privatization of Medicaid should be looked at again and changes in guidelines put in place to help organizations be paid in a timely manner. Everyone is affected by the way it is providing payments now!
Costello: While the Medicaid managed care program has had its challenges, a number of significant improvements have been made since the initial roll out several years ago. Without modernization, Iowa would have had to had cut benefits to those on the program as costs grew rapidly. The goal is always to improve patient outcomes and keep the program sustainable. Our system has made a lot of positive changes, and we will continue doing everything we can to keep making improvements.
Costello: Last year, we made great strides in the creation of our children’s mental health system and we want to continue building on those successes. Mental health continues to be a priority at the capitol as well as ensuring the funding is there to properly support all who need it.
Crouch: I have worked for years to get mental health services for all that need help. Funding is the biggest issue. I have testified before the Senate to no avail on child mental health. If the state is asking the counties to do this, funding should follow.
Funding for public education
Crouch: Education is a top priority for me. Teachers need good pay, schools need money for infrastructure. I would work to have a percentage of budget for education each year.
Costello: For the last several years, Iowa’s K-12 schools have received predictable and sustainable funding increases. Even more important is the passage of legislation that levels the playing field between urban and rural schools in regard to transportation costs and per-pupil costs. This means the money rural schools had to spend on getting students to and from school now could be spent in the classroom, ensuring students have the tools they need to learn.
Access to affordable health care
Costello: Access to affordable health care is really important, especially in rural areas like ours. In 2018 we passed bills to create new options for people to receive more affordable health care. We have passed a number of bills this year as well to help increase access to affordable care, and just as important during this time, work to bring down costs for prescriptions.
Crouch: Healthcare is a problem everywhere. Healthcare is something people shouldn’t have to worry about. We need to put pressure on our congressmen to do changes.
Crouch: It is a problem long overdue. We need to put together a plan for the state to follow. We have roads and bridges that are unsafe for travel, but no money to fix. This needs to change.
Costello: Infrastructure is a vital part of economic development. Last year the legislature approved black-out license plates and the fees from those plates added millions of dollars to the road use tax fund. Solutions like black-out plates can help increase funds available to rebuild infrastructure in our area.
Costello: I was proud to support the largest income tax cut in Iowa history, and hope we can continue simplifying our tax code and ensuring Iowa families keep more of the money they are earning. Iowans across our district work hard to make ends meet for their family. As long as the state continues to budget responsibly, we give Iowans further tax relief and give them back the money that is rightfully theirs.
Crouch: I have worked with county taxes for the past 18 years. I know where tax dollars come from. Over the years I’ve had to tell departments that we were cutting their budgets to make ends meet. I believe I can carry this on to the state.
Crouch: I have farmed for the past 50+ years and believe clean water by providing waterway streams filter strips and buffers, these means will give you clean air.
Costello: Water quality continues to be an important topic, which is why we dedicated millions of dollars over the next several years to water quality in our state. Nobody knows the importance of taking care of the land and its resources better than farmers. That is why many of them have taken voluntary measures to improve the water quality in Iowa.
RN: Please give the single best reason voters in the 12th District should choose you to represent them in the Iowa Senate.
Costello: We have done a lot these past few years to move Iowa forward and making our state a better place to live, work and raise a family, like passing historic income tax reform and protect life at the sound of a heartbeat. With all the accomplishments we’ve had, I want to continue being a conservative voice in the Iowa Senate to do more to protect life and make our state the best place for families.
Crouch: I will make the people of Senate District 12 my top priority. I believe the people should come first. I also plan on working with local government boards – city and county.