J.D. Scholten is the Democratic candidate running to represent the 4th Congressional District of Iowa for the U.S. House of Representatives. Scholten was a professional baseball player playing in Canada, as well as a litigation paralegal specializing in intellectual property and trials law. Scholten is running a second time, as he narrowly lost the 2018 election to incumbent Steve King, who has been representing Iowa for 17 years before being voted out in the June primaries. The Iowa State Daily reached out to Scholten’s campaign for an interview; here are his answers to the five questions.
Why should students care about this specific election?
“This election is very instrumental on how our future [is impacted and] what dictates what happens. I mean, we talk about everything from the urgency of health care to climate change to the economy. There's a lot of things on the ballot on November 3 that I feel will be deeply impacted — student loan debt and all these things will impact Iowa State students.
“One of the biggest things why I decided to run was a few years ago when I decided to go back home. I looked in Sioux City for a job for about a month in the Sioux City Journal, my hometown paper, and after a month, all I could find was a $15 an hour job and no benefits. And so, to me, it's about having the opportunity to achieve the American dream and making sure that if you want to stay here in Iowa, you have the chance to succeed here. You know the Democratic Party loves to talk about raising the minimum wage but what I'm trying to do is get those $60, $70 or $80,000 jobs, those are game changers.”
What are the three policies you plan on focusing on the most?
Fix health care
Fight for an economy that works for everybody
Secure a democracy from the special interests groups that are dictating it
What sets you apart from your opposing candidate?
“We showed up to all 374 towns, we said yes to every single debate, as of right now there's no debate. We’ve met with people all over the political spectrum. But the biggest thing is, you know, I’m a working class candidate, I don't take any corporate PAC money. I'm willing to work with anyone to get things done. And what you see on the other side is my opponent was asked to run by lobbyists and he talks to executives, he talks to his lobbyists, big donors, and he doesn't meet with the American people or the people in the 4th District. And I think that's the biggest thing is, we have so many politicians that sell out the American worker, sell out the American farmer, sell out the American consumer. We need somebody different. And that's what we like to promote in our campaign.”
For the first time in 20 years, Steve King was voted out of office. Does the future of Iowa look different? If so, how?
“I think there is a point right now where the district can go one of two ways. After going out to all 374 towns and talking with people, you understand that this district, economically, hasn't bounced back since the 2008 economic crisis. A lot of main streets aren't what they used to be. A lot of farmers are struggling to make the cost of production. So two drastically different choices and what my opponent is doing is kind of the status quo. And so, it would be more concentration, more foreign ownership and more money sucked out of this district. We are the complete opposite where we have a vision for this, that this district could be the epicenter of 21st century resilient agriculture, which would really go hand in hand with rural revitalization with technology jobs going into this district, and in really having an economy that goes far beyond where we're at right now. It's about just leveling the playing field for all people and making sure that that American Dream is achievable in this district.”
What are your stances on the current events such as the COVID-19, demands for social justice reform and immigration?
“We don't come out of this until we get a handle on it. This one foot in, one foot out approach is just not working. And in fact, our numbers across this district are continuing to rise and we're passing record amounts of cases right now. So we need to make sure that everyone has an opportunity for testing and we need more successful testing, we need to focus on contact tracing and making sure everyone has appropriate [personal protective equipment].”
“Immigration, you know there's a clear need, you know, the first thing we got to do is pass the DREAM Act, and I know there's quite a few Dreamers going to Iowa State University right now. And they were promised something by our government, and we have to fulfill that promise: to become an American citizen. In this district, we need to hammer, understand our economic needs when it comes to this, we haven't had comprehensive immigration reform since 1986, and there's a lot of common sense things that we can get done in order for that to happen.”
“I've committed to being a participant in forming a more perfect union. In this district and in Iowa, it's not about us versus them, it's about lifting each other up. And in so much of what we saw in Congressman King in other areas, we don't punch down here, we lift each other up.
"Just last Saturday when I was watching the game day thing they played for Iowa State football and they talked about Jack Trice and what he meant, you realize like that is the Iowa and the 4th District that I recognize. The one that honors, being the only division one football program to be named after a Black man. That, to me, the equality that this district represents.”