joe sestak

Presidential candidate and former Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., talked about his time in the navy to Story County Democrats at the Ames Public Library Thursday

Aboard an aircraft carrier, the average age of a sailor is 19 and a half years old, and Presidential candidate and former Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., “loved” the sea the most of the aspects of being in the navy.

“Anybody who doesn’t think our national treasure — our youth — isn’t wonderful, just come aboard an aircraft carrier,” Sestak said to Story County Democrats, gathered for their monthly meeting at the Ames Public Library.

Sestak served in the U.S. Navy for 31 years, achieving the rank of vice admiral and commanding the USS George Washington carrier strike group in 2002.

The retired naval officer has a plan to lessen the burden student loan debt puts on people.

“Our government is making $127 billion of profit this decade off of students — because it’s charging the wrong interest rate,” Sestak said. “40% of all students […] change colleges during [their college education], and yet only half of their courses are accepted by the other college. We actually do need a national credit transfer system.”

Sestak also said he would work to make it easier for students to restructure their loans, and added tuition rates should be maintained at the rate of inflation or lower, calling the rise in tuition costs “inexcusable.” He also called for an increase in funding for technical training for Americans who do not attend colleges or universities.

The former congressman was asked by someone in the audience how he intends to break out of the field of Democratic candidates.

Sestak was one of the last Democrats to declare their candidacy for their party's nomination, he entered the race last month.

"I have a challenge [...] in the military we say amateurs do tactics, experts do logistics," Sestak said. "So I tell you that because we do have a plan, but we started with making sure that we never leave Iowa. I believe not just that Iowa is great grassroots, it's really grass seeds here."

Sherrie Taha, the 2014 Democratic nominee for Iowa Sec. of Agriculture, is a supporter of the presidential campaign of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. Taha said she regularly attends Story County Democratic Party meetings, but did know Sestak would be in attendance Thursday.

“It was okay,” Taha said of Sestak’s speech. “I want a woman for president — we need one really bad.”

However, Taha said whichever candidate the Democratic Party nominates for president in July 2020, she will support that nominee and expects “every single one of the 24 candidates to enthusiastically support [...] preferably her.”

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