Iowa needs Warren's big structural change for mental health

Heather Strachan is a mental health professional, criminal justice reform advocate, and a former rural organizer for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. -promoted by Laura Belin

Throughout caucus season I have fielded questions from advocates and professionals alike asking why mental health has gone largely ignored in the presidential race. All eyes are on Iowa at a time when we have reached the bottom of the pile in terms of the number of available beds, the number of psychiatric providers per capita, and the availability of community-based services. One in five Iowans will experience mental illness in their lifetimes, and this has far-reaching effects throughout families and entire communities, including my own.

The candidates are not solely to blame: the media are mostly not asking the question.

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A decision made with head and heart for Amy Klobuchar

Janice Weiner is a city council member in Iowa City and a retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer. -promoted by Laura Belin

I’m someone who makes decisions with a combination of head and heart. I learned during my Foreign Service career that I needed both, and I applied that when considering the impressive field of Democratic presidential candidates. Do they speak to me personally? Do their policies make sense? We in Iowa are so fortunate to have this opportunity – not just to see candidates at a rally and read their platforms and policies – but to get to know them as people. And they us, as well.

Like so many others, I trekked to events for countless candidates. Last May, as a part of that process, I attended the Klobuchar campaign’s mental health/addiction panel in Iowa City, screwed up my courage, and told the senator my story. I’m a retired Foreign Service Officer, and I’m raising my granddaughter because my daughter cannot, because of her struggles with dual diagnosis – mental health and addiction, rolled into one. We are not unique – how I wish we were.

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Why I endorsed Cory Booker

Scott Carpenter is a co-founder (with his wife Leslie Carpenter) of Iowa Mental Health Advocacy, which works to improve the broken treatment system for people with serious brain disorders in Iowa and across the country. -promoted by Laura Belin

Prior to the last mid-term election, I described the characteristics I wanted to see in my ideal candidate. Since then, my criteria haven’t changed, and they’re applicable to the 2020 presidential election.

First and foremost, my ideal candidate is a kind, caring, and thoughtful person who is comfortable interacting with people. I want to see empathy and compassion. My ideal candidate is someone who sincerely cares about and genuinely supports the things that are important to their constituents. My ideal candidate is passionate about working to help people. I want that caring to be obvious in all aspects of their campaign.

I often ask candidates several questions. What motivates you each morning when you wake up? What drives you? What’s your passion? The answer to such seemingly simple questions should be obvious for most candidates. If it isn’t, then they should consider a different profession.

You don’t have ask Cory Booker those questions. It’s on display once he starts to speak.

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Democrat Lance Roorda running for one of toughest Iowa Senate districts

An under-reported Iowa politics story this year has been strong Democratic recruiting for the 2020 state Senate races. Even though recapturing the Iowa Senate is likely to take at least two election cycles, given the current 32-18 Republican majority, Democrats have declared candidates in five out of six Senate seats the party lost in 2016.*

Other Democrats are actively campaigning in three Senate districts that were only nominally contested in 2016.**

As of this week, Democrats also have a challenger in an Iowa Senate district that is so heavily Republican the party did not field a candidate for the last election.

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IA-02: A strange choice by Mariannette Miller-Meeks

Imagine you’re a newly-elected legislator. Your party leaders think highly enough of you to make you a committee chair right away. It’s a good committee, handling important bills on subjects you care about.

Would you walk away from that post, less than a year into a four-year term, to spend more time running for another office? State Senator Mariannette Miller-Meeks just did.

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Charlie Hodges is second Democrat running for Iowa Senate district 20

Two Democrats are now running in Iowa Senate district 20, likely to be one of next year’s most competitive state Senate races.

Information technology professional Charlie Hodges of Urbandale will seek the Democratic nomination in a district covering the northwest suburbs of Des Moines (see map below). Johnston City Council member Rhonda Martin has been campaigning here since May. The winner of the June 2020 primary will face four-term Republican State Senator Brad Zaun.

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