CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) — Both the Republican and Democratic candidates for Iowa's open Senate seat in District 30 are ramping up their campaigns. With the March 19 special election date looming and less than three weeks to go, they're mobilizing their supporter.
"It's kind of like a six-month campaign shortened into three weeks," said Rogers. "I kind of like that actually--it's kind of fun to have that kind of intensity for a short amount of time."
Rogers served in the Iowa House of Representatives for 8 years after being elected in 2011, until being defeated by Democrat Rep. Dave Williams in November 2018.
"I'm really focused on making government smaller and smarter. That's my theme," he said. "There's only so much money that's coming in every year, and so we just have to be smart about how we allocate it."
Rogers says health care and education are at the top of his agenda, and says he's proud of what he's accomplished for UNI during his time in the legislature.
"Since I've been there, [UNI's] funding has gone up 28 percent, compared to 2 percent and 3 percent for University of Iowa and ISU," he said.
Democrat Eric Giddens, who works at UNI's Center for Energy and Environmental Education, says there's more to the picture. He says that funding increase was accompanied by burdensome tuition hikes that are not sustainable. He adds that the funding increase isn't sufficient, as it followed steep cuts years before.
"I’d like to fight for funding UNI which is here in our community, and an institution that we highly value," said Giddens.
Giddens is a former K-12 teacher, and currently serves on the Cedar Falls School Board.
"I care a lot about education issues. I grew up in an education household, I was a teacher at Cedar Falls School District, I'm on the school board now."
That experience is why Danielle Templeton, a UNI senior majoring in education, says she's supporting Giddens.
"I'm really excited to have a candidate who is truly a public education advocate," said Templeton, who is the recruitment director for Northern Iowa Democrats. "UNI graduates a huge amount of teachers and I think it's really important to have an advocate in Des Moines who supports those teachers and supports their working environments and wages."
The members of the executive board for the UNI College Republicans were unavailable for an immediate interview, but sent CBS2/FOX28 a statement reading:
“Walt Rogers is a true leader with a proven track-record of supporting UNI. During his time serving in the Iowa House from 2012-2019, Walt led the fight to secure a 28 percent increase in funding for UNI while Iowa and Iowa State got only 3 percent. Those are real results for UNI students. Walt has always worked hard for the students of UNI, and UNI College Republicans will work just as hard to get him elected to the Iowa Senate."
The special election will take place March 19, which falls during UNI students' Spring Break. The Blackhawk County Auditor's office has arranged for satellite voting on UNI's campus from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p .m. on March 12 and 13.