Two candidates are competing to represent Ankeny in an open Iowa Senate seat.
Mike Bousselot and Todd Brady are running in Iowa Senate District 21, which includes the city of Ankeny. There is no incumbent in the district.
To help voters, the Des Moines Register sent questions to all federal, statewide and Des Moines area legislative candidates running for political office this year. Their answers have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Early voting begins Oct. 19 for the Nov. 8 election.
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Who is Mike Bousselot?
Where did you grow up? Davenport
Current town of residence: Ankens
Education: I graduated from Davenport Central High School and attended the University of Iowa for undergraduate and master’s degrees in accounting. After graduation, I worked at Deloitte and Touche before moving to Des Moines to attend Drake University Law School.
Occupation: Attorney and small business owner
Political experience and civic activities: I only entered elected politics a year ago after the passing of state Rep. John Landon and serve as state representative, Iowa House District 37. I serve on the Board of Directors of the Iowa Sports Foundation, co-founded Professionals for Charity, and am an active member of St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church in Ankeny. As an experienced public servant, I have worked for former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad as an adviser, legal counsel and as chief of staff. Gov. Kim Reynolds appointed me as Budget Director and Director of the Iowa Department of Management.
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Who is Todd Brady?
Where did you grow up? Indianola
Current town of residence: Ankens
Education: Bachelor of Science, Computer Science, Iowa State University
Occupation: Software Engineer at Principal Financial
Political experience and civic activities: Creator of the Vaccine Hunter website to help Iowans find COVID vaccine appointments; also created Iowa Formula Finder to help families get through the baby formula shortage. 2021 Iowa Governor’s volunteer award recipient; 2021 Prometheus Awards Emerging Technology Leader of the Year Finalist.
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What would be your top issue should you be elected?
Bousselot: Helping Iowa Families: Promoting policies that help foster good jobs, great schools and safe communities.
Brady: We need to find ways to get more people into Iowa. That starts and ends with education. When public schools are prioritized and funded, it creates a ripple effect of change throughout the state. A few years ago Iowa was one of the top states in education, and every year after, we’ve been declining in the national rankings. During the pandemic, we saw how important public schools are to our communities. They provide education, but they also provide child care, nutritious meals, and physical and mental health support. We have an obligation to our students to provide them with the necessary aid so they can reach beyond their basic needs and be creative, inventive, and imaginative once again.
Iowans are struggling with rising costs and inflation. What can the state do to help them make ends meet?
Bousselot: Letting Iowans keep more of their hard-earned money. Prices are higher than ever before and that is if you can find what you need on the shelves. The state of Iowa savings accounts are full. Last year, we cut taxes for ALL Iowa families, eliminating the state income tax on retirement, and eliminating sales taxes on diapers and feminine hygiene products.We must continue looking for ways to give Iowans tax relief while also advancing policies that create family-supporting jobs. We have budgeted responsibly and continue making record appropriations for mental health care, law enforcement, and schools. Iowa taxpayers make our state great and we can responsibly provide tax relief for families.
Brady: As I am door-knocking across Ankeny I hear two major expenses people need help with: childcare and cost of living. We need to make more Iowa families eligible for child care assistance and pay child care providers what they are worth. Another major expense the state government can address is rent. Iowa needs to do a better job of administering the federal Emergency Rental Assistance program. Iowa has one of the lowest percentages of dollars being awarded from this program to help Iowans with the high cost of rent. Those are our tax dollars coming back to Iowa, and we should be taking action immediately to alleviate these costs for hardworking Iowans and their families.
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What do you believe Iowa’s abortion policy should be? Do you think abortion should be banned entirely? Do you think Iowa should have no restrictions? If you believe there should be some restrictions, please be specific about the restrictions and the exceptions you support.
Bousselot: I am knocking on doors and listening to Iowans on this issue. Abortion policy in Iowa remains a question in the Iowa court system. The Legislature should examine letting Iowa voters decide on the constitutional language proposed. Today, abortion is illegal in Iowa after 20 weeks. While Democrats may believe in expanding abortion until birth, I do not. I know the pain of losing a baby, the importance of life, and that is why I am pro-life. I support Gov. Kim Reynolds and I support protections for expectant mothers and newborn babies.
Brady: The government should not be in our doctor’s offices. We need to stand up for all Iowans and our right to make our own medical decisions with the help of our doctor.
What is the best way to improve Iowa’s education system?
Bousselot: We need to take politics out of our classrooms. Students getting a world-class education should be our top priority. My parents were my most important teachers and parents know what is best for their kids. At school, teachers made the difference in my education. Over the past decade, Iowa has increased funding for schools by over $ 1 billion. Today, a classroom of 25 students is receiving over $ 400,000 in taxpayer funding yet our teachers are only receiving a fraction of that funding. That must change. Also, while some argued for keeping schools closed due to COVID, Iowa rightly was the first to open schools. I supported that action and it has helped our students.
Brady: We need our legislators to stop demonizing our public schools and teachers, and listen to them about what is going on in schools. We lost 79 teachers in Ankeny at the end of the school year, our schools have been doing more with less for years. We need to make it easier for teachers to move into Iowa, one way we can help with that is reciprocal teaching licenses with neighboring states. We also need to make sure there is preschool availability and wrap-around child care to make preschool available to working parents. Finally, students are coming to school with mental and behavioral issues, and more stress, schools need the resources to work with parents to help kids with these issues.
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What new laws, if any, do you believe Iowa should pass regarding guns?
Bousselot: This fall, Iowans will have a choice on an amendment to the Iowa Constitution. I support the right to keep and bear arms while also maintaining the common-sense gun policies Iowa has in place today.
Brady: There are several common-sense gun safety laws that most Iowans support. We need background checks for individual, online and gun show sales. We also need red flag laws to help get guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals and individuals who pose a risk to others. We can protect the right to own a gun while keeping our kids safe at school and our neighborhoods free of gun violence.