Newby: Iowa’s record-breaking, history-making year

Iowa made history in 2018, and that record-breaking momentum propels the state’s people forward into 2019.


Roman Slabach

A biker pedals through rural cornfields close to the outskirts of Aspinwall, Iowa.

Taylor Newby, Opinions Columnist

The year 2018 brought with it a number of breakthroughs and the population of Iowa was bettered because of it. Though division has flanked our country in devastating measure, it’s important to remember and recount the ways that 2018 shaped us into a better and braver people.

The beginning of the year was ushered in with twirling glasses, crackling sparklers, and resolutions scrawled across pieces of college-ruled notebook paper. Promises to pursue a healthier living with grounded commitment arose in conversation countless times — and throughout the course of the year, were undoubtedly exemplified.

RELATED: Kim Reynolds wins, becoming Iowa’s first elected female governor

Iowans are determined people. And it certainly shows. In this last year, our state has managed to make astounding advances in a number of areas. So much so, U.S. News appointed Iowa the No. 1 Best State early on in the year.

Iowa has shaped lifestyles and living standards in such a way that our state has the rest of the country striving to fall in step with its exceptional resilience. Along with being the overall No. 1 Best State, Iowa also managed to snag a number of U.S. News’ Top 10 rankings throughout 2018.

High-ranking health care found a home in our state by way of accessibility to care, quality of care, and the overall health of Iowa’s population — leaving Iowa at No. 3 in the nation for health care. Through consideration of Iowa’s growing economy, minimal unemployment rates and lessening income inequality gap, our state landed in No. 4 for opportunity.

With nearly 92 percent of Iowa’s total population above the age of 25 having completed high school or higher and the state’s unshakable commitment to early childhood education, Iowa is ranked at No. 5 for education across the nation.

Though division has flanked our country in devastating measure, it’s important to remember and recount the ways that 2018 shaped us into a better and braver people.

Along with health care, opportunity and education, Iowa is ranked Top 10 in a handful of other categories by U.S. News — including quality of life at No. 9. And while these achievements are more than praiseworthy, it would have been unrealistic to say the state had reached the pinnacle of its social, political, and economic advancements.

The people of Iowa knew with steadfast diligence and unparalleled grit that there was more work to be done, more room to be reached, and more populations to be pulled safely out of poverty-stricken circumstances.

And so, when polls opened in November, a record-breaking number of Iowans showed up to vote. According to the Des Moines Register, almost 180,000 more Iowans cast votes in the 2018 midterm election compared with four years ago. With that, an all-time record high for midterm elections in the state.

Out of Iowa’s record-breaking 2018 midterm election, history was made; Kim Reynolds became Iowa’s first elected female governor, and Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne became the first women to represent the state in the U.S. House. What’s more: History continues to be made as the American people continue honing their voices.

With 2018 having come to a finish with Iowa’s high-rankings and broken  records, the persistence of the Iowan people prevails — speaking volumes to where we are now as a state and more closely, as a community of people waving in a new year with an undeniable force of promise.