Oct 26, 2021 - Politics

Taxpayers Association of Central Iowa warns against political vitriol

An illustration.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Harsh political rhetoric in local elections has reached unprecedented levels, Art Wittmack, president of the Taxpayers Association of Central Iowa (TACI), told Axios Monday.

Driving the news: The association is holding a town hall meeting Wednesday to offer guidance to help resolve the problem.

Why it matters: School and city elections are a week from Tuesday, and serious issues like student achievement are being overshadowed, Wittmack argues.

  • The toxic atmosphere could discourage people from running for offices in the future — especially for seats that aren't paid, he said.

Catch up quick: Mask mandates have driven vitriol in races for even nonpartisan roles, such as school boards.

  • What were typically uneventful elections are now drawing the attention of the state's top politicians, including Gov. Kim Reynolds.

State of play: Several candidates in Iowa have recently reported intimidation or harassment, such as anonymous postcards with anti-vaccine and anti-mask messages.

  • Ankeny school board members faced threats during a meeting last month, including from a parent who screamed, "We know where you live."
  • And just last week, Iowa Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn reported threats he's received since publishing an op-ed critical of former President Donald Trump earlier this month.

The big picture: The metro is a microcosm of what’s happening across the U.S.

  • The Justice Department this month announced efforts to address the problem, including special training for school boards and administrators.

How to watch: TACI's virtual town hall starts at 4:30pm Wednesday.


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