OTTUMWA — Retired three-star Navy Admiral Mike Franken visited Top Hat Coffee Saturday to continue his campaign for U.S. Senate against incumbent Sen. Joni Ernst.
Franken addressed his upbringing, his time in the Navy, importance of voters and veterans, agriculture and climate change, health care, education and future goals and visions for Iowans. He also spoke about why he is running for Senate and how he differs from Ernst.
Franken is the youngest of nine children. He grew up in Sioux County on a farm raised by a stay-at-home mother and his father, a World War II veteran. Franken dealt with international affairs and spent time in four continents, including his time in the Middle East.
“Frankly there’s a couple of things that are really important to voters and that’s service,” Franken said, “whether it’s inner city work or the multitude of things that you can do with your occupation — the military is one of them and I am the oldest senior military officer to ever run for a Senate seat.”
Franken said he has more years of military service under his belt in comparison to Ernst, which is something he said that sets him apart from her. Ernst, a first-term senator, is seeking re-election to another six-year term. Theresa Greenfield, Kimberly Graham and Eddie Mauro — three other Democrats — will compete with Franken for their party’s nomination in the June primary.
“My platform is threefold, to address climate crises as it pertains to Iowa’s agriculture,” he said. “We have a principal role to be positive in this and to be simpatico with climate, we can do this. Iowa will be more wealthy in the execution of this, and the nation, the world — will all be beneficiaries.” Franken aims to address comprehensive health care and work against special interest, two aspects also part of the “threefold platform.”
Franken said the agricultural policies are “more and more confined.” He called this an issue, and deemed trade issues problematic, too.
“In the end what really really serves us is the quality of life,” he said. “When the ag industry becomes so focused on production, their quality of life concerns seem to take a backseat over profits. The person, the entity most pressed for profit is the growth, the price of the commodity, transportation, the processing — that’s generally fixed.”
State Rep. Mary Gaskill asked what solutions there are for fixing agricultural issues, to which Franken said it begins with controlling the Senate. In order to control the Senate, he said, a person must have transparency, clarity and “not being beholding as a senator … and to special interest.”
In regard to health care, Franken said he seeks to address the inefficiencies in the system. He wants health care to be affordable to all Iowans.
As for education, Franken aims for schools to perform in the top 90 percentile. Franken is determined to run for Senate to not only address education, agricultural policies, health services and other issues, but to make a “positive imprint in the Senate.”
“I have an endearing hope for Iowans for a better future,” he said, “this is from improper involvement overseas to an increase in quality of life. I’ve got something to add in every area and I hope to be that senator who can stand on my own accord and not have to look for assistance from some lobbyists or a staffer who is being fed something at the behest of special interest.”
“I would like to see Iowa be the nucleus of a high-quality of life,” Franken added, “from revised agricultural production to the different commodities coming off the fruit of the land from being a state renowned for a state renowned for its renewable fuel to renewable energy and being a place from high-tech manufacturing … there’s a number of things.