See where Dr. Mary Kathleen Figaro stands on the topics that matter to you.
What should be done to combat inflation?
Nearly everyone is impacted by the global trend of inflation. The solution rests with the federal reserve and the federal interest rate. For instance, the housing market has cooled after interest rates for mortgages have increased. In the face of inflation, we need economic policies that are helpful and supportive to as many Iowans as possible; including members of the middle class.
In addition, better and more affordable childcare will allow more people to work, and income-based tax credits can help make childcare more affordable in Iowa. Policies that are pro-labor will boost wages and will have the most impact to combat the effect of inflation on a family’s budget. A person should be able to afford food and necessities of life with one full-time job. As the Amazon and meat packing plants exemplify, we can raise the standard of living with jobs that allow one job per person to support a family and work together to strengthen our community.
Too many families are struggling with medical bills and higher costs on everyday items. Politicians don't understand the stress these costs are putting on families right now. Dr. Figaro is a doctor, not a politician. As a mom and small business owner, she feels the stress, too, and she'll fight to address the real problems facing hard-working families.
As a doctor concerned for her diabetic patients, Dr. Figaro helped lead the effort to pass legislation to lower the cost of insulin at the nation level, and she'll use her experience to lower health care costs for all Iowans.
As an Alderman in Bettendorf, her opponent, Scott Webster, voted to raise property taxes, stormwater fees, sewer fees and garbage fees — all of which passed with Webster's support. We need a senator who will protect our money, not keep voting to raise taxes and fees. Dr. Figaro wants to cut taxes for middle- and working-class families, not raise them.
Along with raising taxes and fees, her opponent is also a wasteful spender. See this article about his lavish dining on Bettendorf taxpayers' bill.
How do you plan to address housing access and affordability?
The Iowa Housing and Finance Authority, Iowa’s alternative to the Federal Housing Administration, can make low-interest loans available to families. Lack of affordable housing is a problem nationwide, including in the QCA. Local and regional government leaders must work to find ways to build affordable structures that are durable, rather than weak structures that become uninhabitable and need to be torn down.
In addition, subsidies that help families afford stable housing during a transition can help maintain stability. Lastly, the rates of increase in rental units should be pegged to a system of measurement that corresponds with the ebb and flow of the economy. This could cushion the financial blow of inflation and simultaneous rent increases that would otherwise destabilize the finances of young people and families.
Do you support providing student loan debt relief? Why or why not?
I had over $100k worth of student loans after finishing my education and lived within my means and beyond as a student to be able to pay it all off early. For that reason, I am against paying off the loans of others, who, like me, willingly entered into educational loan contracts. Students used to be able to afford education using income from a Summer job, minimal loans and scholarships. This is no longer possible for the vast majority of students.
We need an education system that works for all. Students and their parents now often bear the burden alone. The best solution is to fund public education in a way that benefits all of society and will lead to a better educated population and more technical/practical graduates.
How high of a priority should global warming be? What will you do to help address the climate crisis?
We must consider the future health of our children and grandchildren to realize the importance of controlling the climate crisis. Federal agencies, insurance institutes, businesses and members of the general public all play a part in increasing the resiliency of rural communities to the effects of climate change. Responsible municipal planners, including city councils and county supervisors, must plan policy that takes into account the risks of climate change for residential or industrial zoning, cost sharing, grant-seeking and resource development.
I would work hand-in-hand with our regional leaders to ensure our demographic changes and resources are accounted for when planning for climate change. I would also advocate that our weaknesses as communities (such as lack of resources) be accurately identified so that sound, science-based policies can be developed. Climate change is inevitable; our most effective response will be to create custom solutions that are tailored to address the needs of Iowa.
Do you approve of the current state position on abortion rights? What changes to abortion rights should be made?
As a physician, I took an oath to protect life. I honor and respect the right of another person to make medical decisions that are right for them and their family. We Iowans all deserve the freedom to make healthcare decisions that protect our own lives.
It’s dangerous to compel a person to risk her own life and safety for any reason. Pregnancy is very dangerous — 14 times more dangerous than a medical abortion. In addition, maternal mortality rates are highest in the US compared to other industrialized nations. Outlawing abortion can threaten a woman’s physical and mental health, her life, as well as her freedom.
Many state statutes use definitions of abortion that put doctors and patients in dangerous situations. Physicians who care for pregnant women with dangerous pregnancies risk prosecution under the law. They may inadvertently let the patient’s condition become so bad that they risk her life. The uncertainty and diversity of current state-based abortion laws can chill the willingness of doctors to provide care for women.
Dr. Figaro believes that private healthcare decisions should stay between a patient and her doctor, without interference from the government. She will oppose any legislative decisions that will lessen a person’s personal healthcare choices. Her opponent advocates for an amendment to the Iowa constitution to strip women and their doctors of any rights to make healthcare decisions regarding abortion.
Do you support raising the minimum wage?
Yes. Many hard working Iowans are still struggling to afford very basic needs for sustenance. Wages are not even close to keeping up with inflation and the rising cost of living. Over 12% of Iowans are food insecure. Kids are going to school without breakfast and/or going home and not having dinner. Anxious, hungry children are less likely to perform at their best academically or become nurses, teachers, engineers, etc. We must raise wages in Iowa so that families will have sufficient resources and time for raising their children to become good citizens of the state.
As a doctor, Mary Kathleen Figaro knows that preventing a health problem is always better than treating it later. That’s why she has spent her career finding solutions that lower barriers to healthcare, making it easier to afford life-sustaining drugs like insulin, and working with the governor to promote healthy meals for kids. As senator, she will work for accessible care for all Iowans, no matter their background.
What do you believe to be the #1 public safety issue in Iowa today?
Iowa does not adequately invest in combating drug use or providing mental health. Not only are these two of the most urgent issues, they are related. Every family has a member who has or has had a mental disorder. Iowa has the sixth-highest rate of serious mental illness in the country and ranked dead last in treatment openings available per capita. People with mental illness are often victims of violence. A scarcity of mental health professionals in Iowa can leave patients and their families scared, alone, and out of options. I intend to make improving mental health a priority for our state.
What role do you think the government should have in establishing workplace policies like paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, and minimum wage?
It’s because of unions that there is OSHA, 40-hour work weeks, minimum wage laws, safety measures and compensation for injuries at work. The government must keep collective bargaining options for all workers and make family-friendly policies like paid sick leave a reality for workers for all jobs.
While women may currently benefit more as primary caretakers of children and older adults, our entire state benefits from preventing sick children from infecting their schoolmates or elderly relatives, workers from infecting others in the work setting and stressed and sick people from making errors in medical, government and other work settings. Ultimately, sick and family leave helps families and communities maintain stability and thrive.
There is increasing scrutiny toward law enforcement nationally, statewide, and locally. Do you feel that the scrutiny is justified?
In Iowa, law enforcement is to be commended for their restraint and general good reputation. There are instances where law enforcement has had to be held accountable for actions or inaction during specific crises. I support law enforcement and will work together with regional authorities to ensure they have the proper training and tools to serve and protect our community with integrity and honor.
Under Scott Webster, the City of Bettendorf has been unable to hire additional police officers because the city is drowning in debt --because Webster and others repeatedly gave tax breaks to the wealthiest developers. Dr. Figaro opposes big tax breaks for the wealthiest developers and other special interests. Instead, she’ll use that money to help our communities fully fund police and make sure they have the training and equipment they need to keep us safe.
Dr. Figaro has experience teaching (from school kids all the way to post-graduate doctors). She knows how difficult it is to be an educator. If elected, she will work with parents to support our teachers and stop public dollars from going to vouchers for private schools. Her opponent, Scott Webster, supports a radical voucher plan that would send public taxpayer dollars to private schools. He wants to defund public schools. He even opposed a provision to send additional aid to the rural school districts that suffer the most when public schools are defunded.