Jodi Clemens highlights financial experience in Iowa House run

Jodi Clemens seeks to get money out of politics, repeal privatization of health care, and strengthen Iowa’s public-school system.

Aadit Tambe, News Reporter

First-time Democratic candidate Jodi Clemens, a West Branch native, wants to remove the corrupting influence of money out of politics.

Clemens, 36, wants to win the Iowa House seat now held by Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton. She currently serves as the secretary for the West Branch Community Development Group.

She has worked closely with the School Board and also runs an antique store in West Branch.

The mother of two has eight  years of experience in medical administration and has taught financial-literacy courses for the last 11 years.

Teaching financial-literacy courses, I saw people’s debt just skyrocket. Student loans are out of control … Our whole culture around debt [is] just getting so bad.

— Jodi Clemens

Her husband, Wes Clemens, is running for Cedar County supervisor. Her daughter Alexis is a senior in high school, and son Kalvin is in sixth grade.

Clemens has helped run other campaigns in the past and has been actively involved in the Democratic Party. She said the 2016 election was a turning point in her life.

“I really saw this huge divide in my own party,” she said. “I saw the amount of despair. So, I started an Indivisible Iowa group in West Branch as a support group.”

Through the support group, Clemens felt the need to bring about political change.

“We thought that finding someone to run against my opponent was a top priority,” she said. “After a few interactions with my opponent [Kaufmann], I decided I was going to be the person to run against him.”

Clemens said she champions ending large corporation campaign donations to political races.

Her website declines donations from Political Action Committees, and she said she accepts money only from individual donors.

“Getting money out of politics is the only way we are going to get democracy back to the people,” she said.

Clemens said health care and the increasing costs of health insurance are top priorities she heard from people while knocking on doors.

“I want change to be brought about at a federal level,” she said. “But we can’t afford to wait in Iowa. I would like to see a serious study done on [how we can] add people in the Medicaid program.”

She said she would work to bring Iowa’s Medicaid program back under control of the government. Responsibility for Iowa’s Medicaid system shifted to private managed-care organizations in 2015.

Anytime the pool of patients grows, the risk goes down, she said.

“We need to get to the people who can’t get insurance through a large employer,” she said. “We need to strengthen the medical system and give people the option — they don’t have to work for a large corporation just to be able to afford benefits.”

Clemens also said she wants to strengthen the public-school system in Iowa through additional funding and restoring collective bargaining for teachers.

“We need to fund education,” she said. “Rural schools are [getting] hurt especially. We need to value teachers. Collective bargaining was a huge blow for so many of them. And I saw so many schools step up, and do the right thing, and extend contracts, and try to relieve that fear they had put in so many teachers.”

Clemens’ opponent, Kaufmann, is running for his fourth term.