OTTUMWA — For Steve Siegel, a political campaign is nothing new. For Tom Rubel, being the candidate is a first. Now they want the same job.
Siegel and Rubel are seeking the Democratic nomination for SD 41, the Iowa Senate district which includes Ottumwa. The winner of next week’s primary will face Mark Chelgren, the Republican who is seeking a second term.
Neither candidate is a stranger to the public. Rubel served as the superintendent of the Ottumwa Community School District, shifting to a post with Indian Hills Community College following his retirement. Siegel has served as Wapello County Supervisor for 18 years.
Thursday evening’s League of Women Voters’ forum for the two was one of the last chances for people to hear from the candidates.
The two differed when asked what is lacking in the Iowa Senate. Rubel criticized a lack of “cooperation and transparency,” saying legislators fail to set aside partisanship to represent their communities.
“We have an obligation to represent all our constituents regardless of what side of the aisle we’re on,” he said.
Siegel compared the Iowa legislature to Congress and other states and concluded that, “all in all, I think the senate functions pretty well.” He did criticize the end-of-session rush on bills, which Siegel said prevents legislators from fully understanding what they’re voting on.
Broad agreement on issues was common, as might be expected in a party primary. Both said they support efforts to raise the minimum wage, saying it’s critical to ensuring people can live at a middle class level.
Both also supported efforts to recruit and retain businesses, offering specific efforts they have made to protect Wapello County jobs. Siegel said he has worked as a county supervisor to resolve transportation issues that threatened the bottling plant’s continued existence in Ottumwa. Rubel pointed to his work with Indian Hills on regional economic efforts.