Audubon County Supervisor Gary Van Aernam introduced Senator Joni Ernst when she visited Audubon as part of her 99 county tour. (photo by Laura Bacon)

AUDUBON - Senator Joni Ernst took questions on a variety of topics from trade to mental health issues, from presidential powers to finding ways to work together across the aisle in Washington, in order to get things done.

She visited Audubon as part of her 99 county tour on Saturday, Feb. 9, taking time to get to know what constituents are concerned about.

Instead of beginning with a report or statement, she took questions from the audience of about 70, discussing issues from trade issues and Iowa farmers, how to encourage people to get into politics, being respectful and tolerant, rural broadband, mental health issues and more.

Among those with questions for the Senator was Dr. Robert Blomme, asking with issues politicians faced, especially concerning their private lives, how do you get people interested in getting into politics.

Another area resident wanted to know how Ernst felt about comments made recently by U.S. Representative Steve King. Ernst said it was important for people to take the higher road, and be respectful, and said while she considered King a friend, personally, racist commentaries could not be tolerated.

She was asked about reports of drugs being brought in to the country, about how to encourage the expansion of rural broadband to rural areas, about mental health issues, and her “Squeal Awards.”

Working with people on both sides of the aisle, to get things done in Washington, D.C. done, was important, she said, adding that she thought  politicians from Iowa could help get things done. “We all see the good in working (things) through,” she said.

“I think we can set the example, and what you have seen Chuck Grassley do for, oh gosh, this is his 39th year of doing the 99 county tour - and this is my fifth year,” she said. “It sets a great example for others that we work with in Washington D.C. some folks say, “You are crazy for doing that,” but I don’t think so at all, because I hear directly from the people I represent. Sometimes they are angry sometimes they are really supportive but you need to know that if you want to write good legislation and address their concerns.”

Getting things done on both sides of the aisle is easier when legislators find topics they share interest in, and are passionate about.

Ernst had a couple examples. She has worked with Elizabeth Warren - who officially announced her run for Democratic nomination for President on Saturday - on veterans and traumatic brain injuries.

“How you get things done is to find areas you have passions, and you can work with that person,” she said.

Ernst also worked with Kirsten Gillibrand, “another friend,” on military justice issues.

“I think just by working, getting to know some of the other members in both the Republic party and Democratic party,” Ernst said, “Understanding again what their passions are, allows us to really focus on those things where we want to make a difference together.”

“We all see the good in working through (issues) together,” she said.

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