Local district will have big impact on state senate


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With the retirement of Republican Sen. Sandra Grenier, the seat in Senate District 39 is up for the taking between Democrat Kevin Kinney and Republican Mike Moore.

District 39, which covers Keokuk County, most of Washington County, and parts of Johnson County, holds a large stake in maintaining the state Democrats’ two-member majority.

Kinney is a veteran sheriff’s lieutenant for Johnson County and a life-long Iowa farmer.

Moore is the chief executive of the United Presbyterian Home, a continual care retirement community in Washington, Iowa. He also spent nine years as a member of the Washington School Board.

“As far as the campaign is going, nip and tuck, it’s very, very close,” Moore said.  

Gerene Denning, the chairwoman of the Johnson County Democrats, said a Democratic majority would use revenue to promote all businesses and better education.

“I think keeping control of the Senate is very important for the Democrats and very important for the state,” Denning said. “It’s very important if we want to promote a more positive progressive agenda.”

Chairman of the Johnson County Republicans Bill Keettel said both parties are competing intensely to win.

“Each seat in a closely balanced house is important; therefore, this [election] is important,” Keettel said.

The main conceptual clash between candidates was education.

Kinney and Moore fundamentally disagreed on who should regulate the curriculum of Iowa schools.

“The biggest difference [in our platforms] is the support of Common Core, a set of standards or curriculum that is common across country,” Kinney said. “That doesn’t mean school districts can’t make standards higher, but there is a basis for it, a minimum standard.”

Moore, on the other hand, would prefer to decentralize the school standards.

“I support limits to Common Core that bring it down to local control,” Moore said.  “I’m very much for creativity in the classroom as well by making the arts a big part.” 

Both candidates sympathized on the affordability of higher education.

“It’s important to make education cheap enough for students whether learning a skill or degree,” Moore said. “Because they will be valuable to the state, and, hopefully, they’ll stay.”

Kinney, who considers himself a social Democrat and a fiscal moderate, said he was not motivated by partisan politics.

“I plan to reach across to work with anybody that is willing to work so we can come up with solutions,“ he said. “Whatever they say, I am my own person. I’ve always been that way.”

Both candidates painted themselves as moderate individuals vowing to support conversation and cooperation across the aisle.

“If I’m elected, I know I’m on the Republican ticket, but I’m willing to listen to everyone and represent the people in these counties, not Des Moines,” Moore said. 

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