DeJear campaigns on education and mental health access | News, sports, jobs

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Democratic candidate for Iowa Gov. Deidre DeGuire spoke at his campaign event at the Triton Cafe in Iowa Central Thursday night.

Democratic governor candidate Deidre DeJear focused on the quality of Iowa’s education and access to mental health care — two priorities she feels are not inconsequential.

DeJear spoke with about 75 people at the Triton Cafe at Iowa Central Community College Thursday evening.

“This is a country that was once No. 1 in education,” said the candidate. “Now we’re 18, 19, 20 on the list, depending on which list you look at. And we know that’s not where we belong… We currently have a governor who doesn’t fund our entire education system, which is unfortunate.”

DeJear said she wants to make Iowa more competitive with other states in attracting new teachers by increasing initial teacher salaries and reintroducing loan forgiveness programs for teachers who commit to teaching in Iowa.

The candidate said the need for more teachers — amid a nationwide teacher shortage — is also linked to Iowa’s need for more mental health professionals.

-Picture of Messenger Kelby Wingert

Democratic Iowa Governor Deedre DeJear candidate talks with Fort Dodge Senior High School students Gabe Schumacher and Kylie Gansfeld before a DeJear campaign stop at Triton Cafe in Iowa Central Thursday night.

“I want to provide mental health care in every one of our public schools across the state,” She said. “We are asking our teachers to do a lot with a lot less. If we can get social workers and mental health care workers into our schools, it will make a huge difference.”

DeJear shared the story of a father from northeastern Iowa who took his teenage son to the emergency room during a mental health crisis, and found there weren’t many options — he could wait six months to see a psychiatrist, wait two months to see a psychiatrist, or drive for two. Six hours across the state to the open bed of a mental health patient.

“This is unreasonable” DeJear said. “We have fewer than 30 child psychiatrists in the state and we have more than half a million children…we have less than 750 mental health care beds in the state and we have more than 3 million people.”

Most of the problem, the candidate said, is that there are not enough mental health care providers in the state. It wants to improve reimbursement rates for mental health providers and simplify the licensing process to attract providers to Iowa.

These are reasonable goals, Degers said.

“We are asking for a fully funded education system, not asking for much,” She said. “When you’re asking for health care and mental health care services in your community, you’re not asking for much…but what doesn’t make sense is that we have leadership that is unwilling to create a pathway for people to access these services.”

An audience member asked DeJear about a recent TV ad campaign support for Governor Kim Reynolds indicating that DeJear is part of the Stop funding the police a movement.

“I’m not with ‘Defunding the Police’ in any way,” DeJear said.

Believing that stopping police funding is a solution, she said, means that the police are the problem.

“I don’t think the police are the problem,” DeJear said. I think police and law enforcement are part of the solution. I think the failed policies of this current ruler are our problem.”

Attempts by Republicans to describe it as ‘anti-police’ It’s just a political tactic and a distraction from the issues, Deguerre said.

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