J.D. Scholten, a Democratic candidate for Iowa’s 4th congressional district, speaks to a crowd of more than 50 people Wednesday night at Des Moines Area Community in Carroll during his town hall meeting along his third 39-county tour before the Nov. 6 elections.
J.D. Scholten, a Democratic candidate for Iowa’s 4th congressional district, speaks to a crowd of more than 50 people Wednesday night at Des Moines Area Community in Carroll during his town hall meeting along his third 39-county tour before the Nov. 6 elections.

September 21, 2018

J.D. Scholten said it isn’t just his age or his net worth that sets him apart from other politicians, including his competitor — it’s his drive to get out and meet the people in Iowa.

That’s what he’s committed his entire campaign to doing, he said.

“I usually start things off by letting folks know that the average person in Congress is 58 years old with the net worth of $1 million,” he said. “I’m different. I’m 20 years younger, and I’m about $1 million short.”

Scholten, 38, a fifth-generation Iowan and former minor league baseball player, is running to unseat U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron in the Nov. 6. elections. King represents Iowa’s 4th District, a 39-county swath in western Iowa.

Scholten, of Sioux City, spoke to a crowd of about 50 Carroll-area residents Wednesday night at Des Moines Area Community College in Carroll during his third 39-county town hall tour — he’s calling it his “Can’t Fake Showing Up Tour.”

Scholten said he coined the name because of the time he has dedicated to showing up and talking with Iowans in all 39 counties.

“I’m working my tail off to show that this is what a representative really should be — one that engages the constituents, and like I said, we can’t have ‘of the people, by the people and for the people’ unless you are going to meet with the people,” he said.

In Carroll, Scholten spoke about what prompted him to run for the U.S. House of Representatives’ 4th District and the changes he wants to see in his home state.

Scholten said his No. 1 priority if elected is to change the state of health care.

“Right now agriculture is getting hit pretty hard, but when I do my farmer roundtables, the thing that dominates the conversation is about health care,” he said.

Scholten said he is flexible on health-care solutions in Iowa, but he wants to see everyone insured. He wants to gradually work toward a single-payer system that is financed by taxes and covers health-care costs for all residents.

Scholten added that he’ll also push for funding better mental-health services in the state.

“When we focus on health care in D.C., I want to make sure that mental health is within that,” he said. “We’re having a huge issue in Sioux City right now with trying to find out where our mental-health beds are at.”

When it comes to education, Scholten said, he wants to see Iowa become the No. 1 state for education in the United States, like it was when he was in high school. Scholten said he wants to see educated and talented young people staying in areas like Carroll County and contributing to the workforce.

“I want to create more jobs — jobs that are attractive, that allow us to live a free, successful life, and you know what, if my neighbors are struggling, we lift them up,” he said.

During his speech, Scholten touched on the ag economy in Iowa and the state of the United States’ current trade war with China. He said he is frustrated with the tariffs implemented on Iowa goods such as soybeans.

“I don’t see New York real estate getting hit, I don’t see Texas oil getting hit, I don’t see Silicon Valley getting hit,” he said. “We are bearing the brunt of this trade war, and I oppose this trade war.”

Many members of the audience wanted to discuss gun control with Scholten after his prepared remarks.

Scholten said shootings such as the Parkland High School shooting in Florida earlier this year, the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas and others never should have happened.

He said he wants to see laws and regulations that make it more difficult for someone to get a gun, but he added that there doesn’t have to be a choice between supporting gun control and the Second Amendment.

“This notion of it’s either gun safety or the Second Amendment, I think, is a false thing,” Scholten said. “We can absolutely have both. It’s very frustrating, because there’s just one side that just doesn’t respond.”

In an interview with the Daily Times Herald, Scholten discussed his recent request for a debate with King.

King’s response: “If there was not a clear division of issues, then it’s only going to get into name-calling, and then there’s no need for debate,” Scholten said.

Scholten said he has taken a pledge to never “name-call” and said he wants to speak with King about health care and King’s vote in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that Scholten said will raise the U.S. deficit by $1.9 trillion.

If he is elected, Scholten said, he would vote to reverse the deficit and continue taxing corporations and the “1 percent.”

“I’ll call him out — I think Representative Steve King is a fake politician,” Scholten said. “He’s a fake hustle politician. He loves to go when there are cameras. (I would) do the grunt work behind the scenes and meet with people. We just want to show a contrast in not only political issues, but also in styles.”

Scholten also spoke briefly about the recent murders of college students Mollie Tibbetts, 20, and Celia Barquin Arozamena, 22, in Iowa. He said those incidents are a cry for mental-health funding that he continuously advocates for.

Scholten added that he wants to see a decrease in violence against women and that the #MeToo movement is a direct result of the harassment and mistreatment women face.

“You see the amount of reaction to the #MeToo movement, it shows there’s a clear epidemic of harassment that we would like to see corrected,” he said. “I don’t know what I can do at the federal level, but I would be open to it. I would want to be an advocate to any response to it.”

Recently, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s name has been at the top of national headlines after the accusation that he sexually assaulted California professor Christine Blasey Ford when they were both teenagers.

When it comes to the allegations, Scholten said he wants to see each and every nominee properly vetted, but he wants both Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford to be heard.

I think what we need to do nationally is have a system in place anytime someone gets called out,” he said. “I think we need to have steps — I don’t know what those steps are off the top of my head, but I think it would be something so we cannot just jump to conclusions anytime something happens, but we need to have a fair process so both sides are heard on a fair basis.”