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Greenwald challenges Latham record

By Staff | Sep 16, 2008


“Tom Latham has voted 94 percent of the time with George Bush and the Republican Party.”

For some Democrats, that would be enough, but Becky Greenwald, challenger to Iowa District 4 Congressman Tom Latham, stopped in Estherville Monday to lay out her own agenda for running for Latham’s seat.

Greenwald grew up in State Center and graduated from Iowa State University with a sociology degree and from Drake University with a master’s in business administration. Surprisingly, her professional resume reads much like Latham’s – agricultural background, 22 years in sales and marketing for the Garst and Pioneer seed companies.

Where Greenwald departs from Latham, though, is on bread-and-butter issues affecting everyday Iowans and everyday Americans.

While she peacefully protested against the Vietnam War while a college student, immediately after graduating from ISU Greenwald became a medical case worker for the American Red Cross at Wilfred Hall military hospital. It was there she formed a sympathy for veterans and became an advocate for their causes.

With her experience with Garst and Pioneer, Greenwald said she has traveled globally marketing their products and subsequently understands global ag issues.

“All those travels show me that we have our resources right here in the 4th District,” Greenwald said of both agriculture and energy.

Greenwald points to the fact that 10-12 years ago people in southern Iowa were working on producing ethanol from switchgrass. She talked admirably about the wind energy and turbine technology program at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville.

Greenwald took issue with Sen. John McCain’s opposition to ethanol subsidies.

“It rings a big alarm,” Greenwald said. She said ethanol plants provide good-paying jobs as well, in addition to lowering the price of gas 20 cents a gallon. She thinks ethanol marketing could be pushed further, with more E-85 stations and blended fuel pumps.

Greenwald agrees with the Republican position that the U.S. should allow drilling on the outer continental shelf and more drilling and Alaska. She adds though that more drilling is only part of the picture.

“We need to drill,” Greenwald said. “Let’s go do it. But let’s make sure we’re investing in the fuels of the future.”

Greenwald notes more demand in China as well for oil, with people there making a leap from riding bicycles to driving cars.

“I think everything needs to be on the table to solve this crises,” Greenwald said. “We’ve got to be aggressive on our wind and our solar and our geothermal.”

Regarding the war in Iraq, Greenwald agrees with Sen. Barack Obama that the U.S. needs to get out of Iraq and focus on Afghanistan. She notes though that the veterans of both conflicts have been on longer and multiple deployments, making them more susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder and other problems. Greenwald said veterans need more than the current two-year limit for assistance on service-related disabilities. “If they’re going to serve the country we need to be there to serve them,” she said.

On the education front, Greenwald said Latham voted for student aid cuts in 2005-06 and against student aid increases in 2007.

Greenwald said every dollar spent on early childhood education returns $7 later. She noted though that Latham voted for a radical cut to Head Start that did not pass. Greenwald also criticizes No Child Left Behind as an unfunded mandate.

Another issue close to Greenwald is the fact that medical insurance on average has doubled over the last eight years. She said American-manufactured pharmaceuticals are actually cheaper in Canada, a situation she would like to change.

Greenwald attributes much of the current financial crises to Republican economic policy.

“We’re experiencing the pain of what that Contract With American brought us,” she said. “A little regulation is good.”

Since the Republican party has been in control 12 of the 14 years Latham has been in office, she asked why the Republicans haven’t done something about gas prices. She also took issue with the fact that during his tenure Latham has voted for three pay increases for himself but not for a $4,500 bonus for troops going to Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I just want people to be aware of his record,” Greenwald said.