Marshalltown Community College held a local state candidate forum Wednesday night and it was an easy guess as to what the main topic of conversation was - education.
The forum, moderated by Dean Borg of Iowa Public Television, included House District 71 candidates Mark Smith and Allen Burt, District 72 candidates Dean Fisher and Nathan Wrage and Senate District 36 candidates Steve Sodders and Jane Jech.
Most candidates agreed funding needs to increase for community colleges as they said there is a need to train a better skilled workforce in the state.
T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW POTTER
Dean Borg, left, served as the moderator of a local candidate forum Wednesday at Marshalltown Community College featuring six state candidates on the ballot for the Nov. 6 election. Pictured are Senate District 36 candidates Steve Sodders, center, and Jane Jech.
"We need to focus much more on skilled workforce development," said Sodders, a Democratic incumbent from State Center.
His opponent, Jane Jech, a Republican from Marshalltown, said that community colleges provide more "bang for the buck" than funding for private four-year colleges and in many cases there is a lack of motivation among people to go after the skilled jobs.
Burt, a Republican from rural Marshalltown, said there is a problem in the state with the attitude among students who quit when things don't go their way.
"Unfortunately, we have a lot of young people in our society that decide that it's easier to quit," Burt said.
Smith, the incumbent from Marshalltown, said more quality jobs are the key to helping the state's economy.
"I believe it all comes down to that," Smith said.
The majority of the night focused on education funding, specifically funding for the community colleges. Gladbrook Democrat Wrage feels that in funding education you get what you pay for and he's in favor of increasing funding to higher education.
"Over time that's going to improve the quality of life in our state," Wrage said.
Garwin Republican Fisher believes there needs to be an expanded job base in the state. He said Iowa has not grown in population at the rate of the rest of the nation because the younger generations are moving out of the state to find jobs.
At one point, Sodders and Jech sparred over community college funding. Jech asked Sodders why he said he favors an increase in funding for community colleges, while at the same time attacks her for "wasteful and irresponsible spending" while she was on the college board.
"I think I said you were wasteful when you were on the board," Sodders said.
Jech said an attack on her is an attack on the entire Iowa Valley Community College District and therefore on community college spending in general.
Eventually, Borg interrupted the rival candidates to allow for the discussion to continue with other candidates.
"That's an issue in your campaign and we are trying to cover a broader issue," Borg said.
The Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce will host the next candidate forum at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 18 at the Fisher Community Center. The forum will feature these same six state candidates plus Marshall County Sheriff candidates Ted Kamatchus and Randy Price.
The election is Nov. 6.