Claire Celsi loves serving her community. It comes as naturally to her as breathing. Throughout the course of her career, Celsi has served on over a dozen local governing bodies from school and advisory boards to committees and commissions. When asked why she finally decided to run, it was a matter of continuing that trend of service.
“I really just want to live the rest of my life serving people and I feel that I didn’t have any more reason to wait any longer” Celsi states.
Speaking to Celsi, it is immediately apparent that she has a bright outlook for her community and sincerely believes it only takes a single person to make a real difference. So, when Governor Branstad exercised his executive right and vetoed a major education bill, Celsi knew it was time to step up.
“When this education veto happened, I decided I was ready to run … when I talk to people in my district, I see that people want a change,” Celsi commented. “People are tired and they want to see some changes.”
Claire Celsi is challenging Republican incumbent Representative Peter Cownie for Iowa House District 42, which is largely comprised of West Des Moines in Polk County.
Cownie has served in the Iowa legislature since 2009, but his legislative record thus far indicates nothing noteworthy, and he votes along party lines regularly. It is understandable why voters elected Cownie as his credentials and name cannot be ignored, but Iowans in West Des Moines should seek out leaders who not only challenge the status quo, but actively take a stake in seeing changes made. Cownie’s silence on the most pressing issues facing Iowa is deafening. Surely, he cannot have agreed with Gov. Branstad’s decision to block nearly $60 million dollars in funding to K-12 education? Why, then, did he and his Republican colleagues not stand up to the Governor? For a legislator who purportedly “feel(s) strongly that schools need to be properly funded,” he was strangely silent.
Besides education, health is another area Cownie has failed Iowa’s families in. In mid-March, the Iowa Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill that would allow parents with autistic children 21 and younger to be covered by their insurance providers. Why would autistic children need health insurance? It depends. Some research has shown that early care for children with autism leads to better social and cognitive development, but generally, it is an issue that requires case by case analysis and a choice by parents to decide what is best for their family. This article in The Atlantic breaks it down well.
The point is, the bill would give parents the choice to do what was best, whereas without this law, families would have to go out of pocket for treatment. When the bill came to the House, it went to Cownie’s committee for review and never came out, effectively scuttled without discussion. They did not even bother to edit it and propose a revised version or provide an explanation for it not making it out of committee. And this all happened only a month before Autism Awareness Month.
The most significant action that Cownie has taken for Iowa families is his advocacy for legalization of cannabidiol for those suffering from severe seizures, but when reviewing the limiting nature of the bill passed, it is clearly just showmanship. For instance, what about those living with chronic pain? Cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive substance that treats seizures, anxiety, depression and some other medical issues, but not necessarily chronic pain like plain medical marijuana does. Under current laws, they would have to acquire their only means of relief out of state, and even then they cannot bring any back to Iowa. Cownie and his Republican colleagues have repeatedly blocked efforts for medical marijuana that would cover a host of health problems Iowans suffer from.
In contrast, Claire Celsi plans to add her voice to the contingent of House Democrats who advocate for Iowa’s families unconditionally. Celsi has knocked on thousands of doors and keeps a running blog of her interactions with voters on her campaign website. Celsi is really giving Cownie a run for his money. Perhaps that is why he has recently come out with some very weak attacks recently, one television ad citing a decade old blog post Celsi had written airing her grievance about receiving a speeding ticket and negative campaign literature discussing very narrow views of the Affordable Care Act, which went as far as embedding a personal photo off of Celsi’s Facebook page with the President.
However, Cownie is going to need a lot more than a speeding ticket and a picture of President Obama to beat his challenger. As stated in an earlier profile, “When politicians spend money to run negative ads which lack substance and the entire truth, they usually do so out of fear of their opponent.” That is good news for the Celsi campaign because they have joined an exclusive club.
Partisan gridlock is at the core of why simple solutions cannot be reached in the legislature. More balance is needed in the Iowa House and voting in Claire Celsi for Iowa House District 42 can make that a reality.
by CJ Louis