Meet the Candidates: State House District 56

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Anne Osmundson

Angela Reed

Republican Anne Osmundson and Democrat Angela Reed will face off in the Nov. 3 general election for the opportunity to represent District 56 in the Iowa State House. Osmundson has held the seat for the past two years. District 56 includes all of Allamakee County and most of Clayton County, excluding Marion, Highland and Boardman townships. Osmundson and Reed recently shared their thoughts on key issues with Times-Register editor Audrey Posten.


Anne Osmundson

Incumbent Anne Osmundson grew up on a family farm and has lived in rural Clayton County her entire life. She and her husband have operated an ag business in the area for over 30 years, which Osmundson said has given her the opportunity to meet many area residents and allowed an understanding of the rural community she represents. Osmundson said serving in the legislature for two years and meeting many folks from all walks of life has increased her knowledge base of issues important to friends in District 56.

Q: What is the single most important policy initiative you want to see enacted or built upon?

A: There are many important issues that need addressing. But, most importantly, when considering any policy initiative, we need to keep individuals’ constitutional liberties in mind. Our Founding Fathers created an incredible play book to give each individual the ability to grow and work without government interference, and each one of these liberties needs to be protected. 

Q: How do you feel Iowa’s response to COVID-19 has been handled, and what does recovery look like for individuals and businesses?

A: Our governor has done an outstanding job in a very difficult situation—balancing safety with individual responsibility. Our state shut down initially to slow the spread, to give the hospitals opportunity to gear up to handle the onslaught of patients. They are prepared. We must move forward, protecting those that are most vulnerable and encouraging those at risk to take precautions as they do during flu season. I am confident that we can get folks back to work and school safely and responsibly and get about the business of living. Life is full of risk; we must live our lives. Courage over fear; hope over hate.

Q: How will you ensure rural school districts receive the support they need when it comes to education funding and legislation?

A: Since 2011, investment in Iowa’s schools has grown to an all-time high of nearly $3.4 billion annually, an increase of almost $1 billion over the last decade. K-12 funding makes up around 43 percent of Iowa’s budget, making it the top spending priority each year. Under Republican leadership, school funding has never been cut, and student achievement ranks among the best in the nation. I will continue to make education a priority.

Q: What is your take on the job vacancies in area communities (particularly in manufacturing, trades and health care) and the shortage of qualified individuals to fill those positions? How would you work to facilitate connections in those areas?

A: Workforce is a big issue that impacts the entire state. We have many employers here in northeast Iowa who have jobs to fill but can’t find workers. We have worked hard in the Legislature to support our community colleges and make sure they are offering high quality job training programs to help Iowans gain the skills needed for 21st century careers. We also have local economic development offices in both counties staffed with very capable gals that have a pulse on the needs of the community. They are ready and willing to help.

Q: What are your thoughts on the state of health care in Iowa? Which area(s)—such as Medicaid, mental health, nurse/doctor shortages—would you focus on and why?

A: Iowa’s health care providers are some of the best in the Midwest, but we do have some challenges. One of those challenges is access to health care services in rural areas. One way we can address this is by continuing to invest in our small-town hospitals so that people can access care in their communities. Over the last few years, we have provided rural hospitals with additional funding so they can remain operational and in good financial condition. We have also been working on legislation to bring more health care providers to our rural communities through various means. Over the past two years, we have expanded access to telehealth. This service will be helpful for both physical and mental wellbeing.

Q: How will you support northeast Iowa farmers and the agricultural economy?

A: Our farmers do an incredibly important job feeding and fueling our state, country and the world, and I’ll stand up against any efforts to make that more difficult. I’m honored to be endorsed by the Iowa Farm Bureau, the Iowa Corn Growers Association and Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

Q: Northeast Iowa’s natural resources are important for agriculture, tourism, quality of life and more. How will you help protect them?

A: Natural resources are extremely important to Iowans, especially those of us here in northeast Iowa. We have some of the most amazing state parks in the entire state, which is a major driver of local tourism. I serve as vice chair of the agriculture and natural resources budget subcommittee and will make sure that our state parks and natural resource programs have the funds they need to be successful and provide Iowans with great quality of life and recreational opportunities. 

I will also continue to support efforts to improve water quality utilizing the science-based Nutrient Reduction Strategy. Recently passed legislation invests $282 million into water quality initiatives over 10 years. I would be supportive of efforts to increase this amount in the future so we can continue to make improvements to Iowa’s rivers and streams.


Angela Reed

Angela Reed grew up on a farm and currently resides in Guttenberg with her husband of 20 years, Aaron, their son Kaleb, who is a sophomore at Western Dubuque High School, and their two dogs, General and Mav. Daughter Kaleigh is currently a freshman at UNI. Reed graduated from the University of Dubuque with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and is a finance manager for Finnin Ford in Dubuque. She has spent 25 years working in customer service in the restaurant, retail and automotive industries. Her senior year of high school, Reed worked as a page for the Legislative Service Bureau, now known as the Legislative Service Agency. She is a strong supporter of the military, since her dad, husband, uncles and numerous cousins have served. Reed attends St. John’s Church in Guttenberg, has taught Sunday school, coached little league, sang in a classic rock band and volunteered for RAGBRAI and other events. Having been a small business owner, Reed said she understands the struggles of maintaining a small business in a rural area.

Q: What is the single most important policy initiative you want to see enacted or built upon?

A: Rebuilding our relationships on both sides of the aisle to better serve our people in this great state of Iowa. We will be looking at different types of recovery efforts from COVID-19 for small businesses, schools and communities. We need to pull together to figure out how to better support our communities after unexpected natural disasters, and we need to work together to ensure that our people are taken care of and united. Iowa is an amazing place to raise a family, start a business, obtain an education and grill with friends, family and neighbors. We need to get back to our roots on what is important, and that starts with relationship building, communication and open minds.

Q: How do you feel Iowa's response to COVID-19 has been handled, and what does recovery look like for individuals and businesses?

A: Recovery for individuals and small businesses is going to take time. We, unfortunately, have seen numerous small businesses across our state forced to close. We need to figure out how to protect our small businesses in a time of crisis. While there were programs like paycheck protection and additional unemployment benefits offered, the time sensitivity of these situations were met with extremely long hold times, little support for information and extreme frustration for individuals and businesses.

Q: How will you ensure rural school districts receive the support they need when it comes to education funding and legislation?

A: My children attended a small rural school and open-enrolled to a much larger rural school for additional opportunities. I would like to figure out a way for our smaller rural communities to be able to offer additional programs that we find at larger schools, providing our children with equal opportunities. I want to focus on the lack of funding for rural public education and the collective bargaining rights that were taken away from our educators. Working collectively with educators and administration, I want to address how to better prepare our children for what comes after high school, providing them with the essential skills they need to be successful on their own.

Q: What is your take on the job vacancies in area communities (particularly in manufacturing, trades and health care) and the shortage of qualified individuals to fill those positions? How would you work to facilitate connections in those areas?

A: My husband has been an electrician for 22 years. I have first-hand knowledge of the shortages they face in his industry. Working collectively with educators and administration, I want to address how to better prepare our children for what comes after high school, providing them with the essential skills they need to be successful on their own. I want to encourage programs that promote trade skills and effectively offer opportunities that show our children what it is like to be on a real job site. I want to work directly with the local high schools and community colleges, the unions and employers to figure out what we can collectively do to reduce these shortages.

Q: What are your thoughts on the state of health care in Iowa? Which area(s)—such as Medicaid, mental health, nurse/doctor shortages—would you focus on and why?

A: The privatization of Medicaid has proven to be incredibly detrimental to the people of Iowa. We need to re-evaluate ways for our people to obtain affordable healthcare and make it accessible to all Iowans. Iowa, like many other states, is seeing a dramatic up-tick in mental health situations stemming from COVID-19 as well. Mental health needs to be addressed and, instead of cutting funding, find additional support to those suffering with mental health issues.

Q: How will you support northeast Iowa farmers and the agricultural economy?

A: When I agreed to run for District 56, I had no idea that COVID-19 was going to make campaigning a difficult task. I looked forward to meeting with individuals and groups in my area to learn and better understand what our most direct needs were. Unfortunately, the pandemic and relying on virtual meetings made this an even greater challenge. Having family that is still part of the farming community in our area, I am aware of different challenges farmers are facing—in the area of livestock and the challenges with the meat packing plants having to shut down to address COVID-19 concerns, milk prices where a gallon of milk is almost $4 but our dairy farmers are not being paid their dues. The millions of acres of crops that were lost to the derecho and the lasting effects that will be felt for years to come resulting in shortages in our great state. I honestly don’t have the answers on how to alleviate or address those challenges, but I will exert all of my energy to make sure that our agricultural industry has a fair shot and northeast Iowa continues to be a great place to raise a family, farm and do business.

Q: Northeast Iowa’s natural resources are important for agriculture, tourism, quality of life and more. How will you help protect them?

A: Working with local communities, our farmers, the Corps of Engineers and the DNR, I will continue to provide necessary information and resources to keep our northeast corner of the state beautiful and protected. This area is our home, and where we chose to raise our children. It is a collective effort that is necessary to ensure moving forward that our natural resources continue to support agriculture, tourism and our quality of life.

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