If there’s anyone who knows how to bargain, it’s candidate for Iowa House in District 37, Andrea Phillips. Although Phillips has never aspired to political leadership, she has been involved in politics since 1992, volunteering with the Clinton-Gore campaign. More recently, she has been a stellar surrogate for Hillary Clinton, hosting watch parties and GOTV efforts.
After the Iowa Caucuses, a friend inspired by Phillips’ leadership emailed her suggesting that she run for public office in her district since there were no Democrats challenging the incumbent, Representative John Landon.
“It was not on my radar at all,” Phillips said. “I was going to continue helping as a volunteer on somebody else’s campaign … I immediately read the email to my husband, Tom, sort of laughing since it was never my dream to be the candidate … he didn’t laugh, he didn’t think it was a crazy idea, he just looked at me and said, ‘Ugh, you’re going to be working so many nights!’”
Originally from Boise, Idaho, Andrea earned her degree in economics from Boise State University. Before moving to Iowa permanently in 2009, Phillips worked in China as a member of the Board of Governors on the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai. At 27, she was the youngest person ever elected to the chamber at the time. Phillips served three terms, negotiating with various politicians and captains of industry from around the world regarding different economic plans on behalf of American interests.
“Most of the people I worked with were seasoned business professionals who had a more conservative bend than I had,” she explained. “Still, we were able to work together. It wasn’t the state legislature, we didn’t pass laws, but I worked with people from many different countries, from all different backgrounds with ideological views as far apart as possible from mine. Yet in business, you can disagree with someone all day long as much as you want to, but at the end of the day you need to get a contract signed. And so you have to find an area of common ground or nothing gets done. And that’s what I think is happening in the legislature. They can’t find common ground so nothing gets done.”
When asked how she plans to bring negotiating skills to the Statehouse, Phillips believes that what’s important is not looking at the person on the other side of the table as an enemy that needs to be convinced to change their core beliefs, but that legislators need to look at issues bargaining from the perspective of how we can reach reasonable solutions that match most of everyone’s expectations.
“When we see things in society that need to be improved we need to do our part to make things better,” Phillips said.
As a former globetrotting businesswoman, Phillips understands that there is more than one way to achieve the economic goals that Republicans have for Iowa besides simply cutting taxes for businesses, reducing expenditures for education and blocking new proposals for social programs.
“There needs to be a balance and legislators need to get more creative about these problems because what’s happening right now is not working,” she said.
Like many Iowans, Andrea Phillips is deeply concerned about Iowa education funding, a contentious issue that spurred many of the current first-time candidates in Polk County to run. When she and her husband were looking to move back to the United States from China, many friends and colleagues recommended Iowa as a state to settle down because of its reputation in education and growing potential in other areas. Today, Phillips believes that legacy is in trouble and needs to be secured.
Water quality is also an issue that she is running on that many Iowans in Ankeny care about.
“You can see what happens when nothing is done and we don’t need a Flint, Michigan happening here in Iowa,” Phillips warned.
Phillips criticized Governor Branstad’s decision last year to attempt to move money earmarked for school infrastructure and apply it towards water quality as political posturing.
“[The Governor] just wanted to claim he was doing something for clean water knowing it wouldn’t pass so he could say, ‘Democrats aren’t for clean water, they just want all the money for education,’” she said.
Lastly, Andrea Phillips believes families deserve a chance to thrive and that we can enable that by raising the minimum wage to a fair rate so that Iowans working full-time in any occupation aren’t living in poverty. Additionally, Phillips has ideas to spur economic growth in Ankeny, one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., and thinks the Iowa legislature can borrow successful ideas from other states that are implementing innovative economic programs. Phillips believes there is plenty of room for additional public-private partnerships to find new sources of funding. That could be one way to work with Republicans on allowing things like paid family leave and affordable childcare to be funded, but also avoid too many new taxes.
On Tuesday candidates all over the United States will receive the votes of millions of citizens who believe they are capable of representing their interests in government. Iowans in Ankeny have an opportunity to elect a stellar candidate for Iowa House in District 37, Andrea Phillips. Vote for Iowa’s future and make sure we send Phillips to the Iowa House.
by CJ Louis