As a medical doctor, new Iowa Rep. Austin Baeth (D-Des Moines) has met a lot of everyday Iowans and listened to them talk about their issues.
Their stories, and those skills, are things he plans to bring to the chambers of the Iowa Legislature this year.
“In general, I hope to put a lot of human stories that I see in my patients behind a lot of these issues so that legislators can see the real-life impacts some of these decisions make,” Baeth said. “This isn’t just numbers and budgets. These are real people’s lives who really depend on the help of the state.”
Baeth is an internal medicine doctor in Des Moines and also serves on the board of directors for the Iowa Medical Society. There, he said he spends a lot of time advocating for policies to increase healthcare access.
Baeth decided to run for office in part because of the way public health efforts to manage the COVID-19 pandemic have been politicized. Early on, he was a big proponent of masks and he cited studies showing how effective they were in containing the spread of the virus. While there’s other priorities now, Baeth’s goal is to push for evidence-based guidance when it comes to new policies, no matter what they concern.
Baeth said one of his biggest concerns is continuing to advocate for the interests of Iowans over those of lobbyists.
“I think from the outset, what’s really important for me is to highlight when the state government is working on behalf of the everyday Iowans and when they are not,” he said.
Baeth is also concerned with Iowa’s water quality, abortion rights, attracting new people to the state, supporting public education and opposing Republican-proposed school vouchers.
As a member of the minority party, Baeth is aware he won’t have much influence on legislation, but he said he wants to be active and engaged while helping to inform people about what’s happening.
“While I may not be able to single-handedly push through legislation, when I’m seeing the interests of everyday Iowans being thwarted by moneyed special interests, I’m going to call it out,” he said.
This first year will be more about building relationships and finding the places where he can agree with others.
“I’m hopeful that those skills are going to allow me to build relationships with legislators on the other side of the aisle, who I probably disagree 90% of on some of their stances,” he said. “But to find that 10% where we can work towards something, and when you listen, you build trust between the two people, that’s what I want to do.”
At A Glance:
Name: Austin Baeth
Position: Iowa Representative for District 36
Committee Assignments: environmental protection (ranking member), health and human services, state government
Residence: Des Moines
Education: Des Moines Public Schools, University of Iowa (undergrad and medical), University of Colorado (residency)
Experience: On the board of the Iowa Medical Society
Family: wife, son, daughter
Interests (when he has the time): hiking, camping, fly-fishing
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