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Nate Boulton: Iowa Senate District 20

The June 4th Primary Election Day is less than a week away.

The Political Action Committee contacted the candidates in all the contested races in Des Moines and asked them to submit a 90-second video and respond to 6 questions about issues important to the Black community.

If you know someone who lives in the districts with contested races, please send the links to them so they can also be an informed voter.


Nate's 90 seconds:

Nate's Q & A's:

Question 1: In light of recent legislative actions that have expanded funding for Iowa's private school voucher program and passed legislation to provide legal and civil immunity to armed school staff in the event of a shooting, there are growing concerns about the impact on equity, safety, and accountability in our public education system. Considering the NAACP's commitment to equitable access to quality education, how do you plan to address the consequences of diverting public funds to private schools through these voucher programs? Moreover, regarding the new law now permitting the arming of school staff, what measures will you advocate for to ensure the safety and well-being of all students and staff in Iowa's schools while also upholding accountability and transparency?

Answer: We need to make sure every student, every teacher, and ever staff member feels safe in each one of our community schools in Iowa. I did not support the legislation on arming staff members—putting more guns into more hands in our schools does not increase school safety and I fear may have tragic results. While I can support a number of other measures in increasing school security and safety, that one was a step too far. We see many schools succeeding with new security measures and personnel. I think our local schools should be supported in those efforts, and the state should be a full partner in making sure schools can put effective programs and personnel in place to keep our kids safe in their learning environments.

Question 2: Recent legislative actions, notably the passage of HF 2319, which seeks to ban basic income programs in Iowa, have sparked significant concern regarding their impact on low-income and working-class communities. These measures appear to be part of a wider effort to dismantle support systems essential for marginalized populations. As a candidate for the Iowa House, how do you plan to respond to these concerns? Specifically, what strategies will you propose to ensure that all Iowans, especially the most vulnerable, have access to resources and opportunities that foster economic stability and promote social mobility?

Answer: I am a firm advocate for social and economic justice. When our state jumps at opportunities to shovel tax credits, exemptions, and giveaways to the most profitable corporations in the world time and time again, but then balks at extending unemployment benefits for a factory shutdown in a small community it refuses to take up my bill paid family leave to help low-income families, our priorities are misplaced. I’ve opposed the many efforts pushed through over the past eight years to make it harder for working families struggling to get by. From kicking eligible families off SNAP to banning community-based programs to help families that have been knocked down get back on their feet, our state has headed in the wrong direction when it comes to Iowans who are working to get themselves positioned to succeed in making ends meet and build a better future for their families—and in doing so make a major collective impact in the economic future of our state as a whole.

Question 3: The recent passage of Senate File 2385 has raised serious concerns, as it is perceived as a setback to Iowa's rich civil rights history. This legislation weakens civil and human rights agencies and abolishes specific commissions aimed at protecting marginalized groups. Alongside other bills that limit diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, there appears to be a diminishing state commitment to the rights and dignity of all Iowans. How do you intend to counteract this erosion of civil rights protections and ensure continued voice and representation for marginalized communities in our state government? Furthermore, what specific actions will you take to preserve Iowa's historical role as a champion of civil rights and equality, and how will you actively promote policies that combat discrimination and uphold equality for all residents?

Answer: I became an attorney because I wanted to see justice done for those who have been knocked down by their employers in their workplaces. It’s why I’ve spent my career as an attorney representing people who have been wrongfully terminated, individuals who have suffered disabling and even fatal workplace injuries, and labor unions in efforts to achieve fair wages and better working conditions for workers in Iowa. When we see repeated efforts to restrict access to meaningful justice when Iowans have their civil rights violated, we have to ask ourselves: what kind of state are we creating? I cannot, did not, and will not support efforts to restrict access to a fair and impartial process through our courts and Civil Rights Commission. Taking away the Iowa Civil Rights Commission’s independence was intentional. Putting the ICRC within the Department of Inspections, Appeals, and Licensing, and under a new board with authority over the commission and the director, was designed to keep the ICRC in check. Having the ICRC constantly worried about how a political administration will react to its actions in investigations of complaints against prominent corporations and individuals will cause inherent conflicts, and weaken the ability to protect Iowans’ civil rights. When factoring in the work done and ongoing proposals to do even more to stack our courts with a partisan process for selecting judges, our state has taken major steps that have systemically undercut Iowans’ access to meaningful justice for years to come.

Iowa needs to restore the independence of the ICRC. We need independent, fair, and impartial state agencies who hold powerful, final roles in adjudication of claims from public employee rights to workplace injuries to civil rights violations.

Question 4: Effective legislation often depends not just on public speeches but on strategic actions during the early stages of a bill and building relationships with key influencers. Given the pivotal role of bipartisan cooperation, are you willing to work across the aisle and can you share examples of how you forge productive relationships with colleagues, particularly those with whom you have significant differences?

Answer: I’ve worked diligently to establish relationships within my party and across the aisle to effectively represent my constituents and do the work to make Iowa a better place. I’ve worked across the aisle to get bipartisan cosponsors for legislation I’ve introduced, including getting a bill I’ve drafted cosponsored by members of both parties and successfully passed out of the Senate. I’ve worked with committee chairs as a ranking member on bills, first as ranking member of labor and now as ranking member of judiciary, to be introduced as committee bills to enhance their chances of getting through the legislative process. I’ve also worked across the rotunda with members of the Iowa House, Republican and Democrat, on bills and amendments. Having served in the minority party for eight years, I take pride in having had bills advanced and amendments adopted by working with legislators from both parties to get things done.

Question 5: Many residents remain civically disengaged, often due to the demands of their daily lives and efforts to make ends meet. If elected, these individuals will be among your constituents. How do you plan to actively engage with these hardworking individuals? What strategies will you employ to ensure their concerns are heard and effectively represented in your legislative work?

Answer: I make it a priority every month during the legislative session to get out to different parts of my district for coffee hours to make sure I am accessible for constituents. This year, I held coffee hours in Altoona, Pleasant Hill, east Des Moines, and Ankeny as well as participated in town halls and forums at a city hall, school library, and college campus. I’ve shown up on picket lines, in community marches, and at countless community events. It’s important for me to be able to meet people and hear from them is as many places as I can to help ensure I’m able to represent them well in the Iowa Senate.

Question 6: Immigration has shaped Iowa's community landscape from its early days as a state, bringing diverse groups who sought new opportunities in response to both 'push' and 'pull' factors. As the NAACP, we advocate for humane and inclusive immigration policies that recognize the dignity of all people. How will you collaborate with relevant community stakeholders to promote fair and just immigration policies in Iowa, ensuring that immigrants and refugees are treated with respect and dignity? Additionally, given Iowa's rich history of welcoming various immigrant waves, how will you address the specific challenges faced by today's immigrant communities in areas such as healthcare, education, and employment to ensure they are integrated and supported within our state?

Answer: We need less fear and more understanding our communities, but state policies over the past eight years have done so much damage to relationships between Iowans of different backgrounds. Iowa has historically been a proud state that has welcomed new immigrants into our communities, and our state has been made better for those efforts. I saw it in the vibrant new businesses created in my hometown of Columbus Junction as immigrants started a new grocery store and other businesses and brought new life to a small town main street. Immigration cannot continue to be a topic exploited to instill fear and create division. Especially in a state that is in the middle of a critical worker shortage that is a critical concern for the future of Iowa’s economy. Instead of creating new policies on immigration enforcement actions that foster distrust of law enforcement in communities that should be protected and served by those who want to keep our communities safe, we can and should look for ways to ensure abusive employment practices are stopped and worker traffickers are held accountable. Strong public schools with robust English language learner programs are a “win-win” for new Iowans today and our state’s long-term future. Enforcement of laws in the workplace, like worker safety laws, child labor regulations, and combatting employee misclassification and wage theft can protect Iowas workers and make sure unscrupulous employers cannot get away with exploiting immigrant workers who feel like they’ve been pushed further underground by new, fear-based policies.

Other Iowa Senate District 20 candidates:

No other candidates responded to our request.


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