By Eva McBride
Disclaimer: The use of the term “Buttercup” is the author’s choice and doesn’t reflect the views of Jodi Clemens.
Jodi Clemens hails from Springdale, IA near West Branch and is running for District 73 State Representative against Bobby “Buttercup” Kaufmann. You may recognize her opponent as the Iowa legislator who got national attention for his “Suck it up, Buttercup” bill. He was talking about college students in Iowa who may have needed support or felt traumatized after the Presidential election in 2016. He didn’t want state funds to go to help these students and wanted to penalize any colleges who used state funds to help students with counseling. He was also suggesting that protesters face charges for impeding traffic as they did in a protest after Trump’s election when Interstate 80 was obstructed and had to be closed temporarily. Anyone who is not a fan of Bobby Kaufmann will rejoice to know that Jodi is on the ball and has a resume that puts Kaufmann to shame.
I met up with her in the Quad Cities while she was meeting with some ladies from the Scott County Democrats to talk about how they are attempting to get more Democrats involved in their area. I liked to see her reaching out to people outside of her county to network and problem solve. Jodi is very involved in Cedar County Democrats Central Committee but she is also involved in many other activities for development in her Community. I told her to pretend like I was writing her resume for the voters in District 73 and asked her to tell me about some of her accomplishments.I will let her tell you more about her family and her accomplishments in her own words because I’m just helping her write this resume.
Jodi said, “My dad was a steelworker in Wilton, my mom was a stay at home mom who volunteered at our schools, taught Sunday School and led our Girl Scout troops. I’m trying to keep up with all of that plus running two businesses. We grew up on the same street I live on now in Springdale. My sisters and I have an antique store in West Branch, Marg’s Little Red House Antiques and Uniques on Main Street. We hit 6 years in business this May, 5 years in this location.
I’ve taught financial literacy classes for about 10 years now which led to my career change into the financial realm. I’ve been a financial Representative with a not-for-profit Faith-based financial company for the past 4 years. I work closely with local churches and help clients manage their money, make plans for the future and help them live generously. I love to lead workshops on financial literacy and help people navigate our overly complicated financial systems.
Wes (her husband) and I were highschool sweethearts, together for 18 years, married for 12. We have 2 kids, Lexi is 16 and Kalvin is 10. Lexi is the only Clemens to run for office so far and has been elected Student Class President two years in a row. I hope I can continue her streak! Kalvin found a hero in a 73-year-old man from Vermont and convinced us to drive him to Philadelphia to the DNC to support Bernie Sanders. He went as Bernie for Halloween last fall. Wes was a State Delegate for Bernie Sanders – he registered as a Democrat for the first time to Caucus for Bernie last February and has stayed in the party to help get it back to being the party of the people. Prior to starting my own financial business, I worked for 8 years at Mercy Iowa City working closely with the hospital administration, physician office managers and various insurance providers in the state.”
Jodi is very active in the West Branch area and when she listed all that she is involved with I could see that she is proficient at multi-tasking and her focus already seems to be on political action and improving her community. She started an Indivisible Iowa Group in West Branch but I will let her tell you more about how she’s involved in her local community. “I don’t have a specific role on the Central Committee, I represent Gower Springdale township. I was a caucus chair last February for my precinct. I am an alternate on the 2nd District Central Committee. Wes is also on the Cedar County Central Committee and on the 2nd District Central Committee. I’m Secretary on the Board of Directors for the West Branch Community Development Group, a Main Street Iowa program. I just started my second term. I’m Vice President of the Fine Arts Connection at West Branch Community School District as well. We support the band, chorus and art programs and their directors.”
Giving back to the community is very important to Jodi and her family so they are involved in other ways. She said, “I teach Vacation Bible School every summer at my tiny but full of heart Springdale United Methodist church in the middle of the “grand metropolis” of Springdale. We welcome children from neighboring communities and church each year and usually end up with over 60 children, which is phenomenal considering our total attendance each Sunday is probably half that. My daughter and her awesome friends help me entertain our twenty plus 2-4 year olds each year in the toddler room.”
I had met Jodi several times before our interview and talked to her at the People’s Summit with her husband Wes. At that time she said, “Now is the time when we have to be unapologetically progressive.” Jodi strikes me as kind person with a positive attitude which will serve her well in the State House but she also said, “I’ve been accused of being “too nice” a few times. Don’t mistake my nice for naive. I treat others the way I WANT them to treat me – not necessarily the way I am treated. It’s human nature to lash out when threatened, a kind response can change the whole dynamics of the situation.”
To get ready to run for office Jodi did the Ready To Run Program for female candidates. She also attended 50/50 by 2020, a bipartisan program started by Maggie Tinsman and Jean Lloyd Jones whose goal is to get the gender ratio in the Iowa Legislature to 50/50 by the year 2020. She rode with and talked to Jean Lloyd Jones on the way to the 50/50 by 2020 course. Jean was at one time the House District Representative for District 73 and then later went on to be a State Senator. Although at that time District 73 did not cover Cedar County. Jodi is excited to have her as a mentor.
I asked Jodi where she stands on the following issues to help you get a better idea of her platform.
1. Medicare for all?
Yes to Medicare for All/single payer. Will consider the Medicaid option as well with more research. I want a solution and I’m willing to look at other alternatives as well.
2. Are you willing to make reproductive rights a centerpiece of your campaign?
I fully support bodily autonomy and am myself pro-choice. I would like us to stop fighting on this issue and work together on solving the underlying causes of women choosing to have abortions in the first place such as poverty, sex education, healthcare, higher education, childcare assistance, paid maternity leave, etc.
3. Do you support a $15/hr minimum wage tied to the cost of living index?
I support a $15 minimum wage and if we need to help small business owners afford that – I’d much rather subsidize them than the large corporate employers we give tax breaks too now. Bottom up to grow the economy. You can’t spend money if you aren’t making enough to afford your basic necessities.
4. Are you in favor of the full legalization of cannabis?
Yes – legalize it, tax it – fund education.
5. Do you support free tuition at Iowa’s public colleges and universities?
I do want to make college affordable and attainable to all. Our student loan debt is out of control. See #4 – legalize marijuana – help pay for college.
6. Are you willing to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline and commit to a moratorium on new pipelines?
Absolutely! Our water quality is more important than their ease of transportation for fossil fuels. I vehemently oppose using eminent domain for private corporations – especially when spills are a reality in so many places already!
7. Will you vote to end tax cuts for large corporations?
See #3 – no more corporate welfare – if we are going to help out businesses – let’s help the little guys be able to pay their employees a living wage and afford healthcare benefits. No more trying to attract businesses into the state by discounting their taxes, keeping our minimum wage low, cutting back on workers compensation benefits and dismantling collective bargaining. We want businesses who recognize the asset that our hard working Iowans can be to their bottom line, not ones looking for the cheapest labor to help with their export costs. We take pride in our work here in Iowa – sell that to out of state companies – the ones worth working with will listen.
8. Will you work to restore primary school funding back to the level it was when Iowa was a leader in primary school education?
The attacks on public education in the past few years are embarrassing. Funding our schools should be a top priority for all Iowans. I will fight to restore funding and restore collective bargaining rights of the lifeblood of our education system – the teachers and staff that make it happen! I will oppose school vouchers, they would devastate our already hurting rural schools.
9. Will you vote to restore collective bargaining rights to Iowa’s public employees?
Will you vote to expand the role of unions and pass laws to prevent employer’s interfering with union formation?
Yes I will fight to restore collective bargaining rights to public union employees and hope to help expand participation in private sector unions as well. Income inequality and union participation have an inverse correlation in this country. We are at the lowest Union participation rates and the highest income inequality rates we have ever been since the Great Depression. Workers in Iowa need representation now more than ever!
Jodi’s campaign slogan is Putting People and Planet before Party and Profit. Her goals are Progressive. She is running a campaign powered by small dollar donations from the people, not corporations. She fully supports Unions and their democratic process for endorsing candidates but would prefer small donations from the individual members themselves. She is requesting a list of voting members for endorsement donations. The unions so far have been very agreeable to this arrangement, also recognizing the importance of getting the influence of money out of politics! To find out more about Jodi, her campaign and support it you can visit her facebook page or website.