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Samy El-Baroudi: Iowa House District 34

Updated: May 29

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.


 

Samy's 90 seconds:


Samy'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: As a 29-year veteran public school educator I am very concerned about the move toward public money going to private schools.  2/3rds of those using these vouchers were families that were already in private school, creating a tax credit for affluent families instead of opportunities for our most vulnerable children.  Public money must be used to ensure the highest quality education for EVERY child!  Our schools have been chronically underfunded by out Republican governor and legislature for over a decade.  This additional reduction in funding continues to hurt our most vulnerable children: children of color, LGBTQ+, and students with special needs.  As a candidate I will fight to reverse these damaging laws and backfill the necessary funding to ensure a quality education for every child.


We know that arming teachers will disproportionately impact our children of color.  Gun violence is already a scourge in our minority communities, and holding school staff and districts harmless when innocent people are hurt only amplifies the danger to our children.  This law is analogous to pouring gas on a fire and wondering why the fire doesn’t go out.  We know how to address gun violence with common sense gun laws like background checks, waiting periods, and red flag laws.  We also need to do a better job of keeping guns out of school by hardening school entrances, using electronic monitoring, and having the staff available to monitor.


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: Our Republican leaders have chosen to wage war against our marginalized communities.  From refusing federal money to feed our lower income children to passing laws that make public support more difficult to quality for coupled with tax cuts targeted to the most affluent Iowans, we are seeing a transfer of public wealth from supporting our citizens into the pockets of those who already have the most.  As the Iowa House Representative for District 34 I will fight every day to bring equity back to Iowa.  This starts by ensuring that every Iowan has a seat at the table, because until every Iowan is represented at the table they are on the menu.


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: Iowa has a rich progressive history, from one of the first states to integrate schools to codifying same-sex marriage.  That legacy is being dismantled by our current Republican leadership.  The war against DEI in our communities and our educational institutions is in full swing.  As the representative for District 34 I will continue to fight to honor this legacy and expand the rights and voice for all Iowans regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or identity, and disability.  This will necessitate amplifying all of our voices and reminding our friends on the other side of the aisle of our rich history and legacy.  We must remind them that more equality for all is not reduced equality for those in the majority.  When all Iowans are seen, heard, and valued, Iowa wins.


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: Republicans have a super-majority in both houses and the governors chair.  That means that bipartisan cooperation is not required to pass their agenda.  The only way to combat this is to build strong relationships with our friends on the other side of the aisle.  This comes from finding our common values and principles and building a strong relationship.  I commit to focusing on our common values to build trust that will help me to fight their most damaging initiatives.  I also will continue to work across the state to elect representatives, senators, and eventually a governor who value our diversity and the uniqueness of every Iowan.


As a 29-year veteran public school teacher I have had to work with thousands of students and families from different backgrounds and beliefs.  Many times, in building these relationships I recognize that our values are different, but the goal of educating every student is the priority.  I will bring that same energy and acceptance of all to the House to build the relationships that will allow us to protect our most vulnerable.


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: In 2022 Cindy Axne lost her seat by 2,000 votes.  In District 34 we have well over 8,000 Democrats, yet barely over 2,000 of them voted.  Our most diverse districts have some of the lowest voter turnout in the state.  For that reason I am so excited that we have four amazing Democrats vying for this seat as we are all working to engage these voters.


As the representative for Iowa House District 34 I will engage all of our voters.  I pledge to walk this district and engage our citizens in conversation every year, not just on election years.  I will create multiple opportunities for constituents to engage me in conversation and share their concerns, hopes and dreams for Iowa.  Ako used to have a monthly coffee with your legislator event that I plan to bring back.  I will use multiple social media platforms in addition to traditional media to share news and opportunities to engage my constituents.  I will focus on voter registration and voter turnout to ensure that the voices of District 34 are heard throughout Iowa.  Silence is complicity, and we can no longer be silent!


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: Being an Arab-American born in Alexandria Egypt, I understand the value of our immigrant communities.  Lanon Baccam is a great example of how the immigrant story is truly the story of Iowa.  Every culture adds to our Iowa story and enhances Iowa’s identity of inclusion and acceptance.  We must fight to retain that identity.


This starts for me by bringing these communities to the table.  I will create a “Kitchen Cabinet” of leaders that represent these communities in our district.  As the conduit for their voices issues important to all will be brought to the House floor and will be amplified by our Democratic caucus. In addition I will fight to open our state to new immigrants.  Iowa needs immigrants to build our communities, to increase opportunities, and to bring diverse and unique perspectives to our state.  Increasing our diversity in Iowa improves and enhances the lives of all Iowans.



Other Iowa House District 34 candidates:


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