Friday, November 2, 2012

Mary Bruner sees politics door to door.

As of late last week the Democratic candidate for Iowa Senate District 6 had knocked on more than 6,200 of them herself. Campaign volunteers rang more bells.

“If you don’t hear the stories, I don’t know if you can represent them,” Bruner said.

Bruner, a Carroll resident, has taken positions on a number of issues, from economic to social, but the message she received from the vast majority of people in the district is this: they are tired of partisan rancor.

“They want a Legislature that works, that gets something done,” Bruner said.

Many residents of the Senate District 6 —  which includes Audubon, Carroll, Sac and Buena Vista counties and part of Crawford County — said the economy is a major concern.

“I don’t think government creates jobs, but I think you partner to try to create the climate,” Bruner said.

Bruner said she has the skills to work in a cooperative fashion.

“From my life experiences I would say that I am good at bringing people together,” Bruner said.

On taxes, Bruner said hitting property-tax payers at 100 percent of assessed valuation “is not fair.” She wants to see commercial property taxed at something less than 100 percent but has not pegged a percentage.

“I do think it’s something that will happen,” Bruner said.

At this point, Bruner said she’s a fierce opponent of any increase to the state gas tax. That’s based on her conversations with voters.

“I did listen to people,” Bruner said. “I did talk to people about that.”

The reality is that many working poor in the district commute fairly long distances, she said. Older people on fixed incomes also would be adversely affected by a gas-tax hike, Bruner said.

“They can tell you every day what the price of gas is,” Bruner said.

Bruner said she supports the Second Amendment.

“I believe the gun laws in Iowa are adequate,” she said.

Bruner views legalized same-sex marriage as a civil-rights issue. She reconciles her support of the 2009 Iowa Supreme Court decision with her Catholic faith by noting that gay marriage, as defined in the state, doesn’t intrude in churches.

“When I read the decision, there’s a whole section on this decision that does not define religious marriage, and it allows religions to recognize marriages as they see fit,” Bruner said. “They can or they can’t. So it allows religious freedom.”

If Bruner were an adoption counselor she would not give preference to heterosexual couples over same-sex partners seeking children.

“I think there are all kinds of people who can raise and love a child,” Bruner said.

She said same-sex marriage does not crack the foundation of Iowa’s culture as several conservatives, including her opponent, GOP Crawford County Supervisor Mark Segebart, have said.

“I think if people want to commit and love each other, as a married person in a heterosexual relationship, I don’t think their relationship is going to impact mine one way or another,” Bruner said.

Bruner defines herself as “pro-life” on abortion. She would make exceptions for legal abortions in the cases of rape, incest and where the life of the mother is in danger.

“I do believe that God creates life, however, also I do believe there should be exceptions for rape and incest,” Bruner said.

Bruner, 61, said that had she ever been impregnated during a rape, she would have hoped to have the strength to carry the child to term.

“Would I like to believe that I would make the decision to keep the child? Absolutely I would like to believe I’m capable of that. Do I know if I can do that? No. Because it hasn’t happened to me,” Bruner said. “I want to believe I could have that child. I hope I would have been able to is what I’m saying.”

When asked if she was offended that questions of abortion and women’s health are often discussed in political sessions largely featuring men, sometimes exclusively men, Bruner, who suffered through two miscarriages and gave birth to four children who are now adults, said “It doesn’t seem like there are many women, does it?”

A daughter of John and Margaret Gronstal of Carroll — and the oldest of their 11 children — Bruner grew up in Carroll and graduated from Kuemper Catholic High School in 1969. She earned her bachelor’s degree in education from the College of St. Mary in Omaha, Neb., in 1973.

From 1973 to 1976, she taught junior high science at St. Theresa in Des Moines while her husband Barry, also a Carroll native and former county attorney, was earning his law degree at Drake University. The couple returned to Carroll in 1976 to raise their children and have lived here since.

Bruner worked as an educator at St. Lawrence and Fairview in Carroll as well as in Templeton. She has a long record of substitute teaching.

“I think it gave me a lot of background in education,” Bruner said.

Specifically, Bruner said she plans to be strong supporter of community colleges as they feed the local workforces in the district.

“I know I would certainly be an advocate for them after what I’ve heard,” Bruner said.