Hoping to bring down tuition and boost the legal uses of medical marijuana, University of Iowa senior Patrick Wronkiewicz is running as a Republican for an Iowa Senate seat that represents the university community.
He’s challenging 20-year incumbent Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat, for the seat.
Originally from Chicago, he hopes to graduate in December with a management degree.
As a Marine Corps veteran, Wronkiewicz said, he has experienced how divided the U.S. is after he left the military.
“… we are all together as one cohesive unit,” he said. “And I got out and saw divisions in America along race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and that just isn’t the case in the Marines. We are all one team, one fight …”
Although originally from Illinois, Wronkiewicz chose to run in the Hawkeye State because he considers himself an Iowan, he said.
“I don’t plan on leaving the state of Iowa,” he said. “… In Iowa, people are nice, government is run efficiently, and I can leave my car unlocked.”
Wronkiewicz moved to Iowa in 2013. Although he is a college student, he said, his policies encompass everyone, not just students.
Many of his policies cater to a widely student-based audience, he said, and lessening tuition increases are a top priority for him.
“There is a $127 million surplus in the budget this year,” he said, referring to a nonpartisan state fiscal analysis agency estimate that came out in late September. “There is money within the budget to go to the University of Iowa and higher education. I would work bipartisanly to help ensure that the UI gets the funding.”
He said he wouldn’t vote for any budget that would cut funding for universities governed by the state Board of Regents.
He also supports taking steps toward limited legalization of cannabis.
“Medical-wise, I would like to see the list of diseases allow medical marijuana expanded,” he said. “Taking down the penalties and decriminalization, I think that should be the priority rather than some kids smoking marijuana.”
On health care, he believes the 2015 decision to transfer the state’s insurance program for low-income individuals to for-profit managed-care organizations was done too hastily, he said.
“It was a huge failure of bipartisanship,” he said. “To fix that, I would like to streamline the appeals process.”
Wronkiewicz said he believes the process to appeal a denial of care from the companies takes far too long.
“The process is very elaborate, and is discouraging to people who are denied the process,” he said.
Wronkiewicz said he thinks water quality and environment change are ongoing issues and cannot be resolved in just one piece of legislation.
“We need to listen to farmers and address their issues right away,” he said.
Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, signed a bill dedicating $282 million to water-quality infrastructure over the next 12 years.
Wronkiewicz said that because he is a Republican, some misconstrue that he shares all of President Donald Trump’s beliefs.
“I am just a middle-of-the-road conservative,” he said. “I believe in engaging with the public, working with other senators, and bipartisanship. It’s not always Republican-versus-Democratic issues.”