By Kathleen Darling, West Branch
Mr. Kaufmann has not earned my trust or my vote. He does have a gift for saying the right thing according to the audience. After I visited several town hall meetings I found his responses evasive, dismissive and misleading. For example, in Clarence when public workers present raised concerns of the 2017 gutted collective bargaining bill, Mr. Kaufmann stated he would see what he could do. The bill passed quickly and Mr. Kaufmann was not one of the six Republicans that broke ranks and voted against the bill. When questioned on his vote he remarked he was not going to waste taxpayers’ money.
Another concern is his missing or ineffective support for mental health services. According to NAMI, Iowa ranks among the worst states in our nation for providing assistance to our mentally ill. Mr. Kaufmann was elected in 2013 and basically our assistance for this human need has become worse. As of 2015 we lost both Clarinda and the Mount Pleasant facilities. Recently Iowa City Mercy Hospital has closed its mental health beds due to COVID. It is a fact that we have more mentally ill persons in jail then in a MHI. During 2016 Mr. Kaufmann publicly denied extra assistance to our public university students experiencing anxiety.
Our statewide suicide rates have increased 36.2 percent over the last 17 years. Half of all suicides are from gunshots. Mr. Kaufmann supported gun laws that would override background checks allowing those with a history of mental illness or domestic abuse to have access. The only recent legislation that addresses our mentally unstable citizens was the 2019 Children Health bill. This bill was severely underfunded and left out funding for children with brain injury and disabilities. It took six years for Mr. Kaufmann to promote any action on this issue. There are still no resources for persons over 18 years. We have had this emergency as long as Mr. Kaufmann has been in office. His actions have been too little, too limited, and way too late.
Lonny Pulkrabek, as a law enforcer, has had to recognize problems before they become emergencies. He has implemented crisis intervention and mental health training for officers. The success of this program has officers from other districts attending. He is outstanding in his ability to work with people of opposing views. He became president of the Iowa State Sheriff and Deputies Association and the Iowa State Association of Counties (reducing emergency response times and expanding patrols of rural roads). Here is a leader whose integrity is in his action.