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Megan Srinivas is running for re-election in House District 30 on Des Moines’ south side

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Rep. Megan Srinivas is running unopposed for re-election to represent Iowa House District 30.

Srinivas, a Democrat serving her first term, is the only candidate on the ballot for the Des Moines-based district that covers part of the city’s South Side.

To help voters, the Des Moines Register has sent questions to all federal and Des Moines County legislative candidates running for political office this year. Their answers have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

The primaries are scheduled for June 4, ahead of the November 5 general election.

Who is Megan Srinivas?

Megan SrinivasMegan Srinivas

Megan Srinivas

Age: 36.

Party: Democrat.

Grown up: Fort Dodge.

Current residence: Des Moines.

Education: Fort Dodge Senior High, 2005; Harvard College, 2009 AB cum laude; University of Iowa Medical School, 2014 MD with Teaching Distinction; Harvard School of Public Health, 2014 MPH; Johns Hopkins Medical School, Internal Medicine Residency 2017; University of North Carolina School of Medicine 2019 Infectious Diseases Fellowship.

Occupation: Public health physician and researcher.

Political experience and social activities: Current Iowa State Representative elected in November 2022; former Governor Vilsack appointed to the Iowa State Board of Education from 2003-2005; Board Member, Iowa’s National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI); Executive Committee, Access to Justice Commission of the Iowa Supreme Court; Co-leader of the World Health Organization’s project to improve access to reproductive health services; Doctor volunteers with Project ECHO to expand specialty care to rural and underserved areas of Iowa.

What would be your most important issue if elected?

As a doctor, I see too many of my patients struggling to make ends meet. Many work two to three jobs and still worry about how to pay for their medications, pay their rent/mortgage, or feed their families. And for those who can afford health care, many essential services aren’t even available in our state. Iowa ranks last in mental health care per capita in the country. Additionally, we are the only state with increasing cancer rates yet losing more cancer treatment services due to both cost and inability to recruit health care professionals. I ran to help Iowans access the care they need and that remains my top priority.

What policies would you support to improve Iowa’s education system?

It is essential that we increase funding for our public schools so we can catch up on the last 15 years of underfunding. We also need to re-strengthen the programming of our Regional Education Agencies (AEA), restore local control over school boards and curriculum planning for schools/teachers, and lift book bans that prevent students from reading classics like “To Kill a Mockingbird.” We can improve teacher recruitment and retention by creating programs that help with education loans for those teaching in high-need areas. We also need to properly fund our public universities and community colleges and increase early exposure to vocational curricula and skilled trades.

What do you think Iowa’s tax policy should be? Do you believe the state’s priority should be lowering rates or spending services on Iowans?

State income taxes are vital to funding our road maintenance, law enforcement agencies, education and other public services on which our communities depend. Without the income tax, property and sales taxes would rise to replace lost resources. So it is critical that we preserve the state income tax. We have already reduced the rate, so it is critical that we give the state time to catch up on funding needs such as mental health and education before we explore further cuts at this time.

What policies would you support to improve school safety in Iowa?

There are many strategies we can use to make schools safer. Des Moines Public Schools are improving their safety infrastructure for early firearm detection, something that would be beneficial to schools across the state. We also need to institute universal background checks to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands. Additionally, we must close the loopholes that allow people found guilty of sexual assault or domestic violence to obtain firearms. We also need to raise awareness about safe gun storage.

What next steps do you think the Iowa Legislature should take when it comes to abortion?

As a physician, I strongly believe that an individual’s healthcare decisions are their own and should only be discussed with the medical team. I will advocate for an individual’s right to abortion care. I will also fight efforts to eliminate insurance coverage for contraception and family planning. In 2017, our state stripped family planning health centers of public funding if they are affiliated with an abortion provider or even discuss abortion as a health care option. One of my goals is to reverse these policies and improve the delivery of reproductive health care services in every part of our state.

Virginia Barreda is a Des Moines city government reporter for the Register. She can be reached via [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @vbarreda2.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Where Megan Srinivas stands on key issues in Iowa House District 30