Meet the Democrats running for Senate District 41 | Elections

Two Democrats are on the ballot for Senate District 41, which covers rural northwest Scott County and all of Cedar County, with different philosophies on how Democrats should operate as a minority party .

Nicole Tutton, a Mechanicalville Democrat and HR consultant on diversity and inclusion, said the Iowa Democratic Party hasn’t been forceful enough to describe the wrongdoings of Republican policies.

“If I’m in the minority, so be it, but I’ll be shaking some bushes,” Tutton said. “…I’m going to stick an amendment in every bill I can and just be a thorn in the side of those Republicans who want to be mean and mean.”



Deb VanderGaast, Democrat of Tipton, registered nurse and daycare director, has cast herself as a pragmatic legislator, pushing for legislation she helped craft that would address rising child care expenses.

“I already have a plan to solve my biggest problem,” VanderGaast said. “And I’ve already worked with other current senators to make it happen. So I’m going to get results.”

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Deb Vander Gaast

Earlier last month, resident Deb VanderGaast announced she would be running for Senate District 41.


Due to the ten-year legislative redistricting, no incumbent is running for the district. Senator Jim Lykam and Senator Roby Smith both chose not to run. The winner will face one of two new faces, Kerry Gruenhagen or Alan Weets, who are running for the Republican nomination. The Iowa Senate is currently split into 32 Republicans and 18 Democrats.

For VanderGaast, childcare is one of the main reasons she runs. She is closing her daycare for children with special needs, Tipton Adaptive Daycare, she said, due to a shortage of workers and increasingly unsustainable costs – she said she was operating at a loss between 5 $000 and $7000 a month for about a year.

She said she had drafted legislation that would implement a payroll tax for employers to make more families eligible for the federal Child Care and Development Grant, which pays child care centers to compensate for costs for eligible families.

“Employers are the primary beneficiaries of child care services,” VanderGaast said. “…So they will probably get eight times what they pay back in taxes when we get our economy back on track, we solve our labor shortages and our supply chain issues because families can finally afford to ‘to go to work.”

Tutton also has a personal motivation to run. She said she moved in with her son, who Asperger’s syndromeat Mechanicsville, where she said there were no autism-specific resources for him.

“I work with families through the Iowa Autism Society who just fight for IEP, individual education programs, for their child,” Tutton said. “The first thing to take cuts are special education programs.”

She said she wanted to work to increase funding for K-12 schools at a faster pace, block taxpayer-funded scholarships for private schools, and pledged to push to bring Medicaid back under government control. ‘State.

In 2016, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad transferred Iowa’s state-run system to private insurers. In a state audit, auditor Rob Sand, a Democrat, found that unlawful coverage denials, cases where a judge reinstated a plaintiff’s benefits, increased by 891%. Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds continued to support privatization, as did the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Both said they support raising Iowa’s minimum wage, VanderGaast to at least $10 an hour, and Tutton said she supports an eventual minimum wage of $15 an hour.

“I’m passionate about issues,” Tutton said. “I may not be the finest politician, nor the most talkative, but I tell you what, it comes from the heart. And no one is more passionate about equality, democracy and justice. than me.”

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