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Governor mingles, brags about Iowa at Ionia Fun Days

Governor mingles, brags about Iowa at Ionia Fun Days
Gov. Kim Reynolds reacts to comments made by Betty Stewart, a crafter from Marble Rock, at the Ionia Fun Days Saturday. Enterprise Media photo by Bob Fenske
Governor mingles, brags about Iowa at Ionia Fun Days
Gov. Kim Reynolds poses for a photo with Cliff and Marian Burgart at the Ionia Fun Days on Saturday. Enterprise Media photo by Bob Fenske
By Bob Fenske, [email protected]

If we learned anything about Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds during her visit to Ionia this past Saturday, it is this: The governor likes her salsa “hot.”

“No mild for me,” she said with a laugh during her visit to the Ionia Fun Days Farmers Market as part of an extended swing through the northern part of the state. “The hotter, the better.”

Although Reynolds emphasized that her trip to Ionia was simply a governor doing her job, she sounded very much like a campaigner during her hour-long stay as she touted the strength of Iowa’s economy and the resilience the state is showing as, she put it, Iowa “comes out of” the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We really focused on getting out to see Iowans gathered together for fairs, events like this, and to see Iowa’s small businesses,” she said. “What we’ve found is that we have a very vibrant state. Our people are celebrating all Iowa has to offer. Our small businesses are thriving and we’re going to keep rebounding. We’ve had a tough couple of years obviously, but Iowa’s spirit is alive and well.”

She spent much of her time in Ionia at a Farmers Market that featured that hot salsa she asked her husband, Kevin, to purchase, and talking to vendors including the New Hampton High School FFA and Kellogg’s Honey, a family affair for more than 50 years that produces honey that is sold not just in Iowa but all across the country.

Asked what the story of that family honey business means to her, Reynolds had a quick answer.

“It can happen anywhere,” she said. “You don’t have to be in one of the big cities – Des Moines, Cedar Rapids – to be successful in Iowa. I really believe rural Iowa’s best days are ahead, and you can see it in businesses like this.”

She said one lesson businesses in Iowa learned through COVID-19 was that “you can be anywhere” and be successful.

Reynolds said that’s why she is pushing for infrastructure investment in rural Iowa.

“Broadband, good roads, safe bridges – we need all that to thrive, and that’s something I preach at almost every stop I make,” she said. “We have so much potential here in rural Iowa, and we’re going to tap into that.”

Reynolds took over as governor in 2017 after her predecessor, Terry Branstad, became the U.S. ambassador to China, and she won a full term in the 2018 election. Polls show she is comfortably ahead of Democrat Deidre DeJear in her bid for re-election this fall.

In June, DeJear told Democrats gathered for a convention in Des Moines that Reynolds has lost touch with the state, saying, “We’ve got to focus on Iowans. We’ve gotten chance after chance to see something out of this current governor, but we know now through the evidence, the fruits of her labor, that her focus is not on Iowa.”

Reynolds, though, said her swing through northern Iowa, which included stops in places like Forest City, Osage, Waukon and Ionia, showed she’s in touch with her constituents.

“One of the best parts of the past few days is getting out of Des Moines,” she said. “My heart is in rural Iowa. It’s where I’m from. It holds the key to the future of our state.”

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