PRO-FAMILY POLICIES

I will champion public education to build a brighter future for everyone in our community.

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As a mother and educator from children to post-graduate doctors, I have firsthand experience with the challenges that parents and school districts currently face. I'm also a Bettendorf resident, so I know what excellent resources the Quad City Area has to offer its families — and where it can improve.

Iowa public schools have been falling behind for years. In 2017, the state was No. 8 in education. By 2021, we'd dropped 10 places. Budget increases fall far short of inflation, and the teacher shortage is still in full effect. From vaping problems to high rates of untreated mental illness in youth, there are many issues that demand our attention if we want to give Iowa's kids the best chances of success.

As your candidate for senator, I intend to use robust funding and evidence-based strategies to strengthen District 47 and cultivate a place where children can thrive.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Read Dr. Mary Kathleen Figaro's published Letters to the Editor on issues facing Iowa families and the safety of our communities.

Railroaded By Our Representatives

Published on Sept. 9, 2022, in the Quad-City Times

By now, Quad Citians know about plans to fast-track a project that would triple train traffic running through the busiest parts of our hometowns. But what many may not know about this unpopular plan is how public opinion has been bypassed and who is responsible for failing those who could lose the most. These questions all have the same answer; we’re being railroaded by some of our respective city leaders and elected representatives. Right now, the federal Surface Transportation Board is reviewing a proposed multi-billion-dollar merger between Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern railways. If approved by the STB, the resulting robust increase in rail traffic would cause more noise pollution, more blocked crossings, and worse safety conditions in our communities. In recent months, many local citizens, commuters, and business owners have raised legitimate concerns about how the trains could jeopardize livelihoods. But those pleas have so far fallen on deaf ears among both the Davenport and Bettendorf City Councils. Both councils decided to disregard public outcry by voting to accept money from the railways in exchange for agreeing not to voice opposition to the STB. City leaders who rushed to rubber stamp these deals have essentially sold-out many of the same people who elected them. Regardless of the eventual train merger decision, we must remember the names of the city leaders who brushed off our thoughts as afterthoughts. We must retaliate by not reelecting them, nor voting for them in other political offices they seek. Dr. Mary Kathleen Figaro (Candidate for Iowa Senate District 47) Bettendorf

Gun Violence Prevention and School Safety

Published on August 7, 2022, in the Quad-City Times

I’m running for state Senate because I love and care for this community. I want to provide access to healthcare, competitive wages, and outstanding public education. That includes schools safe from gun violence. Children and teachers shouldn’t have to worry about being victimized in classrooms. Parents and all Iowa citizens should have the freedom to own a gun. We need efforts to preserve our lives while protecting gun-owners rights. After each school shooting, we vow, “never again,” so our laws must shield children from bloodshed. Leaders in Iowa have only offered small gestures, and moves to bolster mental health care for all Iowans has been slow. Gov. Reynolds quoted a finding that 24% of Iowa’s 11th graders thought about suicide in the past year and yet no additional dollars were appropriated for schools to assess and treat their students. Post-pandemic mental health has deteriorated worldwide; however, the tsunami of gun violence, made worse by weapons of mass destruction in schools, is only in America. Reducing gun violence will also require our community to come together. We must commit to common sense measures including utilizing outreach, social services, background checks/vetting processes for gun owners, and rethinking the gun industry’s immunity. We have the resources to fight gun violence. We must have the courage to use them. As your next state senator, I will make it a priority to safeguard all schools and to save students from untreated mental illness or its violent results. Dr. Mary Kathleen Figaro (Candidate for Iowa Senate District 47) Bettendorf

Make Vaping Vanish From Schools

Published on May 18, 2022, in the Quad-City Times

The danger is literally right under the noses of our teenagers. The disinformation is found in claims that “vaping” or smoking e-cigarettes is not harmful to kids, at least not like cigarettes are. Vape pens can be bought online and in convenience stores near home. Take a closer look: they’re everywhere! Vapes can also be disguised to look like flash drives or accessories; manufacturers make it easy for kids to fool their parents. According to the CDC, vapes end up in pockets, bags, lockers, and the mouths of 1 in 5 high school students. Many are unaware that nicotine, CBD, and THC can harm adolescent brain development which finishes at age 25.  Disinformation about vapes convinces school officials and parents: no cause for concern. But the numbers don’t lie. Vaping increased at PVHS by 118% in the past 2 years, an increase similar to high schools across the state and country. And it gets worse: Pleasant Valley Community School District recently warned parents about vape cartridges laced with fentanyl, a potentially deadly contamination. Thankfully those samples later tested negative for fentanyl. This is a wake-up call to protect our children and students from addiction to nicotine via vaping that will cause lifelong illness and shorten life spans.  We parents are the frontline protection. Let’s crackdown on e-cigarettes in our community, including small businesses which sell illegal vapes. Let’s make vaping vanish from our schools! Dr. Mary Kathleen Figaro (Dr. Figaro is a Democratic candidate for the Iowa State Senate, District 47.)

Iowa Parents: A Call to Action

Published on April 18, 2022, in the Quad-City Times

Also published on April 13, 2022, as "School Funding Lags Behind Inflation" in the North Scott Press

Iowa parents have much to be proud of - so do their children and their children’s educators and school staff. The past two years have brought severe health threats to our communities. Families and school districts have made unnerving decisions while under the pressure of an unforgiving pandemic and a deluge of disinformation. Despite the difficulty of our shared journey, Iowans largely put disagreements aside and made the best of a bad situation. Most of our students are back in school where they belong.  The battle to invigorate our public schools is far from over. Long before the pandemic, our state’s public educational system rank slipped from the head of class compared to the rest of the country. From 2019 to 2021, we've dropped 3 spots in higher education rankings, dropped 11 spots in K-12 rankings, and 9 spots overall. This slide, in large part, is the result of drastic cuts and a lack of attention from our elected officials. Yearly budget increases of 2.5% that do not keep up with costs and inflation of 7% ARE actual budget cuts: these have lessened our ability to teach all of our students and ensure our shared future.  Iowa parents have proven they will do whatever it takes to protect public schools that support their children’s futures. Now is the time to support new leaders who will work to restore and invest in our public schools, and recruit and retain teachers, bus drivers, and staff by providing proper support and innovative programs that help protect the physical and mental health of children. Iowa public schools provide a crucial service and forge our community leaders of tomorrow.  Dr. Mary Kathleen Figaro (Dr. Figaro is a Democratic candidate for the Iowa State Senate, District 47.)