Editorials: Feenstra won’t debate Scholten

Iowa PBS does the state a great service by televising debates for the US Senate and Congressional races — except for one, the Fourth District. Democratic candidate JD Scholten agreed to a debate but Republican opponent Randy Feenstra refused. Feenstra also refused to debate Scholten on KTIV-TV in Sioux City. Scholten says he is willing to debate Feenstra anytime, anyplace.

Feenstra, a state senator from Hull, has restricted most of his campaigning to Republican fundraisers. Clearly, he believes that the GOP base will be all he needs in November.

Scholten, meanwhile, is running all over the 39 counties in his camper Sioux City Sue meeting supporters in parking lots, at grocery stores that are about to close, and near ethanol plants that have been idled.

Feenstra does not want to debate Scholten because Feenstra would have to defend taking campaign contributions from Smithfield Foods and other corporate interests. He thinks he doesn’t have to earn your vote by defending his ideas. Scholten, by contrast, is seeking out new support. He is calling for anti-trust enforcement to break up Smithfield and Tyson. He supports paying farmers to be good stewards of the land. He defends the rights of immigrants to feed their families. Feenstra parrots President Trump. That’s not much of a debate, and Feenstra knows it.

Trust BVU to handle it

A surge in coronavirus cases at Buena Vista University of course is of concern to Storm Lake. It was to be expected. As President Brian Lenzmeier said, a college is much like a cruise ship. Lenzmeier, himself a virologist, is keenly aware of the dangers of the virus, how best to contain it and how to keep the university functioning safely.

The university has a protocol in place to monitor, test and quarantine students. It has the space and facilities to handle quarantine. Buena Vista has long experience in online education — longer than most universities in the nation. At the same time, it brings in college students and hopes that they use enough sense to keep themselves safe. It is easier to control a middle school student.

Storm Lake is pretty safe from the BVU uptick. The campus has been closed to the public. Students are isolated from the general population. A surge in the K-12 school population or in food processing probably poses a greater risk to the larger community.

Biden needs Latinos

Latino leaders in recent weeks have called on the Biden campaign to reach out more. Polls reflect that he is not doing as well as Barack Obama did with Latino voters, perhaps a legacy from the Obama Administration’s indifferent record toward immigrants. Saying that you support Dreamers isn’t enough.

We need to hear Biden speak up for workers in meatpacking who have been treated as pawns by the Trump Administration, which terrorizes them at the border yet orders them into work in Covid hotspots. The Bernie Sanders campaign knew how to reach young Latinos, and his message of universal health care for everyone had strong appeal.

There is a sizeable bloc of immigrant voters, mainly Latino, in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota who need a message of unity and hope. They are not hearing it in sufficient numbers. We would hate to think that this race could be lost because Latinos don’t believe that either side really shares their concerns.

Vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris is very popular with Latinos across the country. We would hope that she could return to Iowa to bring out the long silent Latino vote.

-ART CULLEN

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