By Madeleine Neal
First- and second-time caucus-goers showed up to support their respective gubernatorial candidates Monday night in precincts across Iowa City.
In the IMU, University of Iowa students honed in on their top-campaign issues when the nomination sheets were doled out.
UI junior Courtney Squires, a first-time caucus attendee, was impressed with the evening.
“It was a cool experience,” she said. “It was a little chaotic at first, but our chairman did a really good job, and it was cool to be involved in local politics for the first time.”
Squires caucused for Fred Hubbell, a Democratic candidate for governor and a retired insurance executive from Equitable Life Insurance of Iowa. She said Hubbell’s plans to reform the state’s education was one of her deciding factors.
“… Just being a student, that’s sort of where I am in my life, and he wants to make higher education more affordable for students, and he also wants to do a lot of work sort of universalizing K-12 education, which I think is really important,” she said. “I think that alleviates the educational-attainment gap that is so prevalent, because some children are receiving less quality schooling than others.”
Brittany Martin, a UI first-year law student, caucused for her second time, her first time being the 2016 election. She said she was undecided.
“… One of the fellow caucus members had some really good input — he said it’s still pretty early on in the race, and we still don’t have a lot of information,” Martin said. “I am still just not really sure whom I want to vote for.”
Austin Wu, a UI second-year student, was not a newbie to the process, but while it was his second time caucusing, it was his first time being a precinct leader. He was elected as a precinct delegate in support of Cathy Glasson, a Democratic candidate for governor, the president of the SEIU Local 199, and a Coralville nurse.
“… I found her very approachable as a candidate meeting her in person,” Wu said. “I think she has a policy platform focused on education and health care that I agree with a lot.”
Wu, like Martin, said he was once split between candidates: Sen. Nate Boulton, D-Des Moines, and Glasson.
“I figured that, if Boulton doesn’t win the primary this year, he’ll probably run several times in the future,” he said. “So I guess I just took a chance in that sense.”
UI junior Annie Gudenkauf also caucused for Glasson at her second caucus.
“She’s very excellent on mental-health awareness and for affordable health care — those are my big reasons,” Gudenkauf said.
Glasson’s work as a nurse and as a union leader were some of her main selling points, Gudenkauf said.
“I’ve seen her speak before; she seems very humble, she’s a nurse, and she’s done a lot for the community through her union work,” she said. “And so I just really support her, and she’s very down-to-earth, so I appreciate that, too.”
UI sophomore Molly Bagnall, who caucused in the 2016 election, also supported Glasson on Monday evening.
Bagnall, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, said Glasson will offer the progressive change that she thinks Iowa needs.
“… We [Democratic Socialists] have endorsed her because we really think that she’s offering the most progressive, democratic change to the Democratic Party, which is the best option for the community at-large,” she said.
As a young voter, Bagnall said, it’s important for young people to get involved in politics.
“… Especially the smaller ones, not just the presidential elections,” she said. “You need to be voting for your governor, for your local representatives, always, because the lives we all live day-to-day are more impacted by those elections than by the president.”
While the candidates discussed in this article are Democratic, the DI also attended a Republican caucus at the Iowa City Public Library.
Aadit Tambe contributed to the reporting for this story.