Name: Keith Puntenney, Democrat
Office/District: State Senate District 24
Profession: Retired attorney, worked 32 years for the IRS
Why running for office: “My passion has been, for a number of years, managing the family farmland. I was lead plaintiff against the Dakota Access Pipeline when it went to the Iowa Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court because climate change and what it’s doing to farming is one of my big issues.
“I’m also a disabled veteran of the Vietnam War. I had a number of years, well, almost 14 years between the U.S. Army and the National Guard in command positions throughout the whole time. My dad was a doctor, my wife was the director of nursing, so I’ve got a very broad background. Most of my family is medical. I have a very big background in tax, medicine and how the government works and also farming. And now climate change from all the experience I’ve had. I believe all of those are important issues to this election. I have an 8-year-old granddaughter, so I’m very concerned about what we’re leaving. My older son is at the tip of the spear as they say, and has been since Desert Shield and Desert Storm. I want the state of Iowa to be a place they can come back to if they ever want to come back, who want to come to a place where quality of life is revered and supported. I don’t think we’re there. That’s why I’m running.
“I’m concerned about schools, lunch programs in the schools, homeless veterans, the high suicide rates of veterans, just lots and lots of issues that I don’t think we’re dealing with — mental health in the state, lots of things that I don’t believe our current government in Iowa is dealing with. I’m concerned about us wasting money and I think we’re doing that in terms of the way we spend our money in Iowa government right now. And I could go on and on about that. I spent a large amount of my time in 2016 when I ran against Jerry Behn talking about the wasteful spending in government at the state level.
“I think the Medicaid privatization has been a huge debacle for the state of Iowa as we’ve dolled out hundreds of millions of dollars above the contracts for no part to better the outcome for the 600,000 Iowans who were being serviced at that point in time. I’m extremely concerned about rural hospitals since we have one in Boone.
“Maternal health care issues, life expectancy issues, obesity issues that are going on in our society. If you watch the program What’s Eating America that’s one right now, that was just on and they pulled the figure out, which I believe is probably accurate, there’s $1.4 trillion that we’re spending because of the way that we’re promoting sugars and high fats and all this other stuff in our food system and creating obesity, diabetes and heart problems and all kinds of things that are adding to our healthcare costs. I believe that 100 percent. I’m very disappointed frankly in our current officials, from Governor on down.
“I’ve been active, in every presidential candidate who came through, I was active in challenging them in their ideas and wanting to know how they were going to lead us. Some had good ideas, some didn’t know what they were talking about. So I want to begin to get into the dialogue.
“As a farmer, right now I’m extremely concerned with what the low prices and the tariff war and everything have done to our farm economy.”
Puntenney went on to mention concerns with pollution in the ocean. He said navies across the world have been using bottom-of-the-barrel fuel oil, which has a high sulfur content. Smokestacks have been spewing sulfuric acid into the oceans year after year, he said.
He added ideas to increase the use of soybean oil and other use for crops grown in Iowa. He said corn, soybeans and other crops are grown in Iowa could be used to produce paints, inks, glues and boards put into houses.
He talked about wind turbines and efforts in European countries that combine solar and wind energy. He said companies in Japan are converting their three major car manufacturers to producing hydrogen vehicles. By 2025, Europe will not produce any more fossil fuel cars. There are 100 companies in China producing electric vehicles.
“I’m just astounded that we can’t seem to move beyond what we did 20 years ago,” he said. “And frankly, our farming practices need to change.”
Because of changes to cow’s diets, he said there has been a lot more flatulence.
“There are tremendous amounts of things we could do there,” he added.
He also said the IWILL tax should have been funded years ago.
“(Gov. Reynolds) claims it is going to add $100 million to the water quality program,” he said. “That means in the last 10 years we haven’t funded the water quality program by $1 billion. Think about what we could’ve done in Iowa.”
Overall, it’s a common theme that Puntenney talked about.
“It’s frustrating to me that we can’t be a little smarter about what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re running a Model T in a system that needs a Ferrari. I think it’s time we look at the legacy that we’re going to leave for our kids and grandkids. That’s actually our greatest export — our kids, and the education and the can-do attitude of our kids. You can go anywhere in the world and they love U.S. kids. They do, especially the ones from Iowa. They’re hard-working, their honest and that’s great. I want to preserve that.”