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The Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Forum on Saturday, March 19 with Representative Joe Mitchell and Representative Jeff Shipley was more friendly than a normal debate would be when heading into the Republican Primary because they’re more like coworkers than opponents. Having previously worked in tandem, representing different districts in Iowa, they are up against each other this time around as their respective districts are now being combined, and the gloves are slowly coming off.

The video of the forum is available on the Fairfield Media Center Youtube Channel. Not long after the one-hour mark, you can watch Shipley persistently ask Mitchell, “Did you read it?” before correcting Mitchell’s interpretation of the Supreme Court Ruling on the CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) that Mitchell admittedly did not read. “That’s part of the problem. Legislators don’t read,” Shipley insisted.


Shipley speaks of his motivation to get to the root cause of an issue as opposed to the current approach which is to “make the angry people go away” with bare minimum effort solutions. Shipley’s conviction to expose obvious lies—like Lake Darling being shut down because there were “too many geese”—and to end discrimination faster than Omicron gracefully shines through in his articulate and tireless communication.

Mitchell on the other hand looks like he’s posing for a picture every time he speaks, sedating the audience with comments like, “teachers need to be thanked” after Shipley digs deep into the uncomfortable nitty-gritty pertaining to the need for transparency and critical thinking in classrooms with an innovative teacher from Ottumwa.

These two candidates seem to mostly agree on supporting medical privacy, lowering income tax, and getting redemption centers more money to operate on, while they moreso disagree on eminent domain—Shipley for restrictions on private companies and Mitchell against—as it applies to a local farmer’s issue with $150,000 of damage to his land as a result of a pipeline that is, to my surprise, not intended to transport fuel.

Shipley reaches for his phone to share an unanswered email relevant to inquiring with Jeff Boeyink at the Office of the Governor of Iowa about the pipeline that reads, “Can you please explain the purpose of this project and how it will benefit Iowans?” Shipley also goes confidently into a heated debate with a man concerned with mitigating the destruction of carbon. Mitchell’s responses come across more like a political lullaby than an answer. Shipley, on the other hand, has a pulse.

Mitchell brings attention to the imposition of a moratorium to protect public water after just hearing from the farmer who didn’t want imposition on his land without retribution or compensation, and he makes this somewhat valid point with the same flavor of chip on his shoulder as a third-grader in a playground saying, “I am rubber and you are glue.”

It’s almost funny how we don’t want more government control but also want the government to control industry. If industry could maintain a common interest in clean water and the success of farmers, we wouldn’t need to laugh about what is and isn’t fair.

I’m certain the health of our water will improve once our collective relationship to the health of our bodies is honored, once proper self-care of our magnificent human vessels is destigmatized, and once the very success of industry itself is understood to rely on such levels of self-care.

We wouldn’t need to close lakes. Lakes would open us. We wouldn’t need to throw Medicaid money at the elderly. We would need to throw millions of hundredth birthday parties. This is the kind of world I see that we would live in if every legislator was motivated like Jeff Shipley.

In any case, I have faith in Shipley because he has faith in addressing issues at their root cause. Plus, I mean, come on; he read the vaccine FDA approval document before it was cool.

*Ganaia Praema

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