UISG holds forum for state Senate hopefuls

UISG held a forum on Wednesday for Joe Bolkcom and Patrick Wronkiewicz to discuss important issues with students. Each candidate had time to introduce themselves, answer six pre-selected questions, then take questions from attendees.


Katie Goodale/Lily Smith

Republican Patrick Wronkiewicz (left) is a UI student running against Democratic incumbent Joe Bolkcom (right) for Iowa’s 37th state Senate district.

Jordan Prochnow, News Reporter

On Wednesday, the University of Iowa Student Government held a forum with Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, and Republican hopeful Patrick Wronkiewicz. The candidates discussed a variety of issues, from tax cuts and funding for the UI to women’s health-care resources in the state.

Both candidates had time to discuss their stances on many issues before answering prepared questions from UISG moderators. Bolkcom focused on funding for the UI and other universities, and Wronkiewicz discussed Iowa City’s 21-ordinance and providing more entrepreneurial opportunities for students.

Forum moderator Jocelyn Roof, a sophomore and UISG senator, said the forum allowed students to become more informed before they cast their ballots in the upcoming election. She believes that governments need to represent the interests of the people.

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“Forums with both candidates give attendees the opportunity to hear the candidates’ responses to the same questions,” Roof said. “This can be beneficial to voters as they can choose the candidate they align with best, and they can ask candidates questions about what they care about most.”

Important topics of discussion for both candidates were tax cuts and the state budget. Bolkcom said that while it is important to keep students in Iowa after graduation, he does not believe in offering tax credits to students. He also said that he believes in repealing the 2018 tax bill signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, saying middle- and working-class Iowans cannot afford the cost. Wronkiewicz, however, said that while he would not repeal the tax cut, he does believe in cutting back on tax credits.

Another topic of consideration, brought up by a student in attendance, was Iowa’s “fetal-heartbeat” bill. The law, which is being considered by the court system, would outlaw most abortions in Iowa. Bolkcom called the abortion bill “extreme.” He voted against defunding Planned Parenthood and said abortions should remain a legal right.

“Abortion is a legal procedure,” Bolkcom said. “It needs to be a legal procedure, and whether you believe in abortion or not, women are going to have them; they need to have them safely and legally.”

RELATED: Patrick Wronkiewicz aims to cut college costs, expand medical marijuana 

Wronkiewicz said he will not advocate for abortions in Iowa.

“I’m unapologetically pro-life,” he said. “I will not wiggle on that. I believe life begins at conception.”

Both candidates stated throughout the forum that this election is important to the American people and that voters need to turn out to the polls to make their voices heard.

RELATED: Education, climate, health care top Sen. Joe Bolkcom’s list as he seeks reelection 

“People are busy; people’s lives are busy,” Bolkcom said. “The politics of the country right now … we need to restore some confidence in Americans and the people of Iowa. It’s up to us as citizens to put people in office and hold them accountable.”

Wronkiewicz said throughout the forum that he will be as accessible as possible for his constituents, offering public office hours each week in Des Moines.

“I’ll be very vocal, very loud,” he said. “If you have a problem in your community, regardless of where you are or where you’re from, your voice deserves to be heard, and I will listen to you.”