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Democratic congressional candidate Ryan Melton pushes for 'quality of life' investments

Ryan Melton speaks to a small crowd at the Iowa State Fair on Monday.
Kendall Crawford
/
IPR
Ryan Melton speaks to a small crowd at the Iowa State Fair on Monday.

Democratic congressional candidate Ryan Melton said he wants to fix the problems contributing to rural population losses.

Melton is challenging Republican incumbent Randy Feenstra to represent the 4th Congressional District. At the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox on Monday, Melton said his opponent has not done enough to improve the quality of life for Iowans.

“The reason why population decline is so important to worry about is because if you're losing population base, it leaves your hospitals, businesses, schools and community much more vulnerable,” Melton said in his soapbox speech.

He said he believes that rural America can draw in more young residents by investing in healthcare, childcare and raising the minimum wage.

Iowa State Fair attendees gather around Ryan Melton as he speaks on the soapbox stage on Monday.
Kendall Crawford
/
IPR
Iowa State Fair attendees gather around Ryan Melton as he speaks on the soapbox stage on Monday.

Melton said a lack of education funding is also hurting Iowa’s potential to grow. He said it’s leading to children falling through the cracks.

“The only person that's going to educate our kids about a future, including college and other options, is a public school teacher,” he said. “But if we're underpaying them and overworking them, they're going to miss those opportunities all the time.”

The 4th District has long been a conservative stronghold for the state. Former Congressman Steve King held the seat for two decades, until he was stripped of his committee assignments. Feenstra defeated him in the 2020 Republican primary.

Melton criticized Feenstra for his response to the Jan. 6 riots. In the days following the insurrection, Feenstra said a “wonderful group” of protestors got carried away.

“My opponent has still not refused or rescinded or revoked the endorsement he received from Donald Trump, early June of this year,” Melton said. “And, in my opinion, an acceptance of Donald Trump's endorsement is a rejection of American democracy.”

Melton also promised to try to make Iowa safer for people of color, LGBTQ people and pregnant people in the aftermath of the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

The Nevada native ended his soapbox speech with a call to put more climate change mitigations in place.

He applauded Iowa’s participation in wind energy, but said that he opposes the construction of carbon capture and sequestration pipelines throughout Iowa. Summit Carbon Solutions, Navigator CO2 and Archer-Daniels Midland have all proposed to build these pipelines across the state – touting its ability to remove carbon dioxide from the air.

But, Melton said he doesn’t believe the technology is a climate solution and that the companies should not be granted eminent domain to construct a pipeline.

“Why would you give the burden of a risk of a carbon capture pipeline leak? Why would you put that burden on us, on our shoulders, on the ground, just so corporations can rake in massive profit from that?” Melton said.

Kendall is Iowa Public Radio’s western Iowa reporter based in Sioux City, IA.