State Senator Steve King has spent time recently exploring issues facing Storm Lake, Buena Vista County and the new Fifth Congressional district.
King's home of Kiron falls right in the middle of the district, a decidedly rural mass of land compared to Sioux City and Council Bluffs, which are the homes of the other candidates in the race.
"People are not electing someone to vote the right way, but someone with passion to defend their beliefs," King said of the race.
As he continues campaigning for Congress, King said he notes a change in people throughout the sprawling Fifth District since September 11.
"People are more cooperative, more open and more friendly," he said. "We see us all as Americans.
"It's lessened the clamor on divisive issues, like multiculturalism where people identify themselves as members of groups - that has taken a back seat, which is a lot better for national unity," he said.
People he has met with have talked about immigration and a need for tightening borders and a debate on immigration.
He said he would also advocate building a missile defense shield. "Airplanes were used because they had not had access to nuclear weapons at this time," he said.
And while the nation faces both a domestic threat and continuing conflict overseas, the Iowa legislators are set to debate the state's fiscal problems in a special session next week.
One item that won't make it into the state's budget is further lake restoration or dredging dollars. "The opportunities for more funding are gone," King said.
Dredging and lake restoration could be a part of the infrastructure budget, King argues, which is funded through gambling revenues.
"(That's) tied down and co-opted by other interests, which Vision Iowa is one of," King said. "Other resources need to be looked to for dredging - though I'm not optimistic we'll find money for lake dredging."
As a Congressman, King said he would be "very aggressive in providing any funding that I can in lake dredging," adding that he is committed to the project at both state and federal levels.
King also suggests the waters of Storm Lake could serve as a model for other communities. "Storm Lake can and should be a prototype for dredging for our other glacial lakes in northwest Iowa," he said.
As a prototype, King said dredging of Storm Lake would go beyond the "natural level of dredging." It would not be out of place, King said, because all glacial lakes have seen some sort of siltation over the years.
"Dredging beyond the 'natural level' would enhance water quality," King said. "We can establish Storm Lake as a prototype for water quality and then we can carry that over to the next lake in priority."
Another issue on hand is Vision Iowa, which is not living up to its vision, King said. He said it diverts funds from "small rural Iowa to urban centers."
"One-hundred percent of the Vision Iowa money is committed to six gambling cities in Iowa," he said.
He said gambling was established for two reasons: providing money for education and for economic development.
"The very communities profiting from tourism are the same communities using the same reason to enhance their qualifications for Vision Iowa grants," King said. "It's Robin Hood in reverse."
The state also has the Cultural Attractions and Tourism fund for smaller cities, but King said there is a field of over 900 communities in the state competing for those funds.
When the legislature convenes next January, Senator King plans on introducing a bill to offer a limited version of the death penalty in the state.
His proposal would see a limited bill which would "provide deterrence and protect citizens of the state," King said.
King's "limited death penalty bill" would affect a person convicted of a second murder, as in the case of an inmate already convicted to life murdering a fellow inmate or guard in prison. It could also apply to an individual like Adam Moss, who earlier this year killed a mother and her children in Sioux City and then traveled across town and killed another person.
King noted the penalty of death is not an alien concept for Americans, citing Timothy McVeigh's death for the Oklahoma City bombing and the outstanding death warrant President Bush signed for Osama bin Laden.
"The real questions Americans need to ask themselves is how many people would Adam Moss have to kill to qualify for the justice we believe is fit for Timothy McVeigh and Osama bin Laden?"