A small group sat in a circle as Pete D’Alessandro spoke during a meet and greet event on Tuesday, May 8 at the Perry Public Library.
D’Alessandro, Democratic candidate for Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District, came to Iowa 20 years ago from the Chicago area. He worked for former Rep. Leonard Boswell and former Gov. Tom Vilsack and Chet Culver.
Most recently, he was the state campaign coordinator for Bernie Sanders before the 2016 presidential election.
“When we started here in Iowa, we were down 56 points,” D’Alessandro said of Sanders’ campaign against fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The reason he brought that race up, he said, is because “I know how to win tough races.” D’Alessandro said that knowledge will come in handy as he goes up against incumbent David Young in November.
He first has to get through the primary election on June 5 and he spent time talking to Perry residents about the issues important to him.
One of those issues revolves around gun rights. D’Alessandro said a significant portion of Americans want to see assault weapons taken off the streets. Another large section of Americans want to see longer times put in place during gun sales.
“And there’s not a serious debate in the U.S. Congress about it,” he said.
“Because there’s too much money,” one of the audience members said.
D’Alessandro said that isn’t likely to change until there is a change in how election campaigns are financed.
“When you can’t even get Congress to talk about it because people with their hands on the levers of money matter more than what 90 percent of the people want to discuss, we have to have fundamental campaign finance reform,” he said.
The second issue D’Alessandro brought up was raising the minimum wage to $15.
“If you work for a living, you should be able to earn a wage in which your family lives with dignity,” he said.
What $15 does as the federal minimum wage, D’Alessandro said, is just get it to where it should be. He added that if the minimum wage is raised to $15 by 2024, it should continue to be adjusted to keep up with inflation and cost of living.
Health care is another necessity for all Americans, D’Alessandro said. It’s a right, he said, and not a privilege.
He would like to see the country adopt a “Medicare for all” system that take the profit out of the health care industry.
“Profit is the thing that keeps us from allowing people to get the care that they need,” D’Alessandro said.
He thinks a single-payer system will work because Medicare has already helped more than a generation of Americans. The plan D’Alessandro supports would include a 6.2 percent tax on payroll and would be a 2.2 percent income tax on each individual in the country.
While a family of four would see their income tax go up by 2.2 percent, D’Alessandro said they would see their monthly premiums go away. The same goes for co-pays.
“When you add all of that up that you’re not paying for anymore, the 2.2 percent actually puts money in your pocket,” he said. “And we’ve already discussed what happens when regular people put more money in their pocket.”