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|10/13/2012 ||Email this article Print this article |
Hart: Life experiences shape campaign
|Naeve: We need to make changes|
| Andrew Naeve is just 28 years old and has yet to experience the joys of fatherhood. However, it's the thought of raising a family that has pushed him into the political arena.|
Family, improving Iowa's educational system and creating a better environment for small business owners were all triggers for Naeve to seek election to the state senate in Iowa District 49.
"First and foremost, my wife (Kristin) and I would like to start a family here in eastern Iowa," said Naeve, "and we were nervous about the situation at the state and national level. We thought there was no better way to make a difference than to get involved.
"Secondly, I was on the school board at East Central, and it was really frustrating to see the challenges our schools face. And finally, as a small business owner and having a farming operation, I thought it was important for agriculture to have a continued voice in our state legislature."
Naeve's time on the East Central School Board gave him a firsthand look of the state's educational system. He feels it will again be a much-debated topic in Des Moines, and he wants to be part of the discussion.
"Here in Iowa, we spend nearly two-thirds of our state budget on education, yet we continue to stagnate in terms of our national rank, where our state is in the bottom half," said Naeve of rural Andover. "Clearly, we need to make some changes, and I think it starts with challenging our students more and setting rigorous standards.
"I honestly believe we have some of the brightest kids in the world right here in Iowa, and I think if we challenge them they will meet and exceed that challenge. To make that happen, I think we also need to make sure we have the right teachers in the right classrooms."
Naeve said that's one area where he feels he differs from his opponent.
"I think the main difference we have in education is I feel it's vitally important to get quality teachers in every classroom," he said, "and reward the best teachers.
"Secondly, I feel the proposal by Gov. Branstad for the third-grade reading program is one place where we disagree greatly. I do think we need to have a program in place from a young age on up, so it's not just that they get to third grade and then get held back. I do think if they get to third grade and are not reading at grade level, they should be held back to fix that.
"Statistics show kids who aren't reading well by third grade are much less likely to succeed as they go on through the school system," continued Naeve.
Two areas where Naeve and his opponent, Rita Hart, do appear to agree, is the importance of the state's preschool system and the need for the state to let local school districts determine their own school calendars.
"I differ from some of my fellow Republicans in that I'm a strong supporter of our preschool system," he said. "I have seen great benefits in my own community, and I think we need to continue those benefits.
"And as far as the school calendar, I'm honestly a strong believer in local control, and each individual community and district would know what's best for its students."
When it comes to the economy, Naeve says it's vitally important to create an environment that is friendly to job creators, small businesses and entrepreneurs. He says to create that environment the state needs to have some "real regulatory" reform and to also do away with all the uncertainty.
"The first thing people look at when deciding to locate a new business or expand a current one is our property tax," he said.
"We really need to do some real property tax reform and make sure we don't pass the burden down to our local governments and we don't pass it on to different classes of property taxes.
"The most important thing we have to do is eliminate the uncertainty. The uncertainty of what the playing field is keeps a lot of small businesses and entrepreneurs from investing in our area. If we can set the playing field and let businesses and job creators know what that playing field is going to be, then we can let them either fail or succeed on their own."
Naeve says he knows what it's like to run a small business. He started his own farming operation when he was a senior in high school with the help of his FFA teacher and family and managed it throughout college.
"Having my own business for the past 10 years and being in agriculture, make me a good candidate," he said. "Obviously, it helped me see the challenges small businesses are facing, and what needs to be done for the state to be friendly to those businesses.
"Also, my experience on the school board makes me in tune with the challenges and issues our schools are facing."
Naeve says he wants to represent all the citizens of District 49.
"I want to do everything I can to represent all the people of this district, regardless of party," he said, "and I'd love for them to reach out to me with any and all of their concerns."
By Scott Campbell
Editor, Eldridge North Scott Press
Rita Hart and Andrew Naeve both have farming backgrounds, but as far as Hart is concerned the similarities pretty much end there.
Voters in Senate District 49 have a choice between two political newcomers, but Hart thinks her life experiences will play much better in Des Moines.
"The obvious difference between me and my opponent is I'm a lot older than he is," said Hart of Wheatland. "Therefore, I have gone through a lot of life experiences that are yet to unfold for him."
Hart feels raising five children and operating a family farm with her husband for 30 years have given her unique perspectives, and those life experiences have shaped her way of thinking.
"My experiences as a mom and educator have caused me to weigh both sides of an argument and really look for a commonsense solution," said Hart, who taught in the Bennett and Calamus-Wheatland School Districts for more than 20 years. "I know some things take time, yet I have the energy and drive to see a lot of those things come to fruition."
Hart acknowledges both she and Naeve are farmers but quickly points out their operations are decidedly different.
"Our farming operation is small," she said. "My husband (Paul) and I bought this farm on our own, so we understand how difficult that is. Although we wouldn't be here without the help of Paul's dad, I have a strong sense of what it takes for a family farm to succeed."
It's that unique background of being a mom, educator, farmer and volunteer Hart says makes her a good candidate.
"I think I bring a combination of things to the table," she said. "My life experiences have helped me develop the listening skills it takes to be the voice for the people of the district," she said, "and I think they are looking for a regular person with that kind of life experience that will use some common sense to help get things done."
As far as Hart is concerned, there's plenty of work that needs to be done in Des Moines. She says she's heard it loud and clear that jobs are the No. 1 priority on the minds of voters, followed by education and health care.
"The economy obviously is the No. 1 driving issue in this campaign," she said, "and, of course, education is my passion and my career. I think that passion dovetails well into the economic issues."
Hart sees a clear correlation between the two issues. She says the way children are being educated also is important to the economy in terms of how the state is preparing a workforce, and how the state can attract businesses because of that workforce.
Education issues appear to be at the heart of Hart's campaign. She says education reform has been on the forefront for a while now, and maintains people are very interested in making sure we have the best schools around.
As an educator, Hart has plenty of ideas.
"There are all kinds of things to look at when we look at how to improve student achievement," she said. "There are myriad ways to go about that. In Gov. Branstad's reform proposals, I think he attacks some of those issues with teacher evaluation and accountability in general.
"I also see we have to do some things to counteract some of the things that have been done in education reform. Accountability is very important, but we have to be very careful we're not putting too much emphasis on standardized testing. There are other ways to measure student performance that we need to look at so we aren't teaching to the test, and spending too much time and energy trying to make sure standardized testing is the end all."
And speaking of education, Hart feels strongly the state shouldn't be dictating when school districts start the school year.
"What I find amazing is we spend a lot of time talking about school reform and improving student performance, and then we want to make rules about when schools can start," said Hart. "I really think that's a local decision, and that decision should not revolve around a tourism concern. I think we need to look at school calendars and be very commonsense about that.
"We have to have a system that makes sense for how kids learn, and what also is practical for families so they can work their students' schedule around their own work schedule so that it makes sense."
Hart feels her campaign is going well, and says the fact she had to win a primary election last June has proven to be beneficial when it comes to name recognition with voters.
"The primary taught me a lot about the whole process and sharpened my thinking as far as some of the issues are concerned," she said. "It was a good experience. I learned a lot and hope to keep learning as we go."
"It's been a long, hard campaign, and I'm anxious for it to end. But at the same time it's been very positive. I've enjoyed talking to people and hearing what is on their minds.
"I'm very much looking forward to representing the citizens of District 49," she continued. "I think people are looking for somebody who is going to make decisions based on what is good for everyone, and I'm looking forward to being part of that process."