Iowa Senate candidate John Raley highlights need for bipartisanship

John Raley, candidate for IA Senate District 45, visited the University of Iowa Democrats on Wednesday to hear from students about their priorities and share how he plans to help them if elected.


Larry Phan

Iowa Senate Candidate John Raley speakers with students on Wednesday, March 23, 2022.

Lauren White, Politics Reporter

Candidate for Iowa Senate District 45, John Raley, visited the University of Iowa on Wednesday night to meet with the University Democrats, where he and the students agreed that education, LGBTQ+ rights, and keeping people in the state are their top priorities. 

Raley opened up his speech by saying how he is disappointed that Iowa is no longer number one in education as it used to be known for. 

“We really need people to feel like this is the place to come to and if we keep going down that won’t be the case,” Raley said. 

He said that there can only be a solution if both parties work together. 

Raley is running to replace Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, who announced he will retire after his current term ends. Iowa City City Councilor Janice Weiner is also seeking the Democratic nomination for the seat. 

Raley asked the students what issues should be focussed on or highlighted more in the statehouse. They said LGBTQ+ rights, education, and population retention are some of their top priorities. 

University Democrats President Caleb Slater said that recent anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the state house is disappointing. He said that finding middle ground can be difficult when it comes to the validity of someone’s identity and that some issues don’t have a middle ground. He also said that lack of public education funding concerns him. 

“You know, that can be really hard to watch. And, you know, they’re effectively like bullying these kids. They’re just full steam ahead with some of these priorities to vilify so many members of the community,” Slater said. 

One local issue that students are concerned about is that many legislators in Des Moines will target Johnson County as it has more Democratic voters than most Iowa counties. 

“Republicans are all about local control until local communities are doing something that they don’t like because it’s more left-leaning,” Slater said. 

Raley said that the students  — both Democrats and Republicans — need to work together on campus to develop solutions to many common problems. 

“I think we would find that it’s human nature that we all have a sense that we want to make a difference,” Raley said. 

Raley said that his leadership experience in the business world will help him to reach across the aisle. Switching seats from red to blue is important, he said, but can take decades. Right now, having conversations about where both sides can find middle ground is most important, he said. 

“Me running isn’t about me. It’s about everyone else, but everyone needs a good leader in order to get to their goals. It takes a village, but I am the person that can bring people together,” Raley said. 

This story was updated on 03/24/2022 to correct The Daily Iowan‘s paraphrasing of a comment attributed to Slater.