Political newcomer looks to unseat Iowa House Majority Leader

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HR King
May 29, 2001
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What a maroon!:

David Golbitz
When the Harrison County Board of Supervisors voted to approve a mask mandate in October 2020, Mondamin resident Rebecca Wilkerson felt like she needed to take action.
“That’s my God-given right to breathe air freely, and I don’t think that anyone has the right to take that away,” Wilkerson said in an interview with the Daily Nonpareil.
After the county board ultimately decided to enact a mask mandate, in part due to 21 straight days of a COVID positivity rate at or above 20%, Wilkerson began attending county board and school board meetings. She was “blown away” by what she witnessed.
“They want more government,” Wilkerson said. “They want more government control of our lives, and I’m, like, nope, that’s not right.”

Wilkerson began to travel to Des Moines to speak with legislators about Iowans medical freedoms, and when a bill was proposed to protect those freedoms, Wilkerson found herself appointed to the task force that helped write it.



The task force, led by House Rep. Jon Jacobsen, came up with HF 2545, a medical freedom bill that would have prohibited businesses from requiring any vaccines, inquiring about vaccination status or mandating masks, but the bill never made it to the House floor.
“It never got brought to the floor as we wrote it,” Wilkerson said. “That’s basically when I said, we need someone down there that’s going to stand up for all of our freedoms.”



And that’s when Wilkerson decided to run for state legislature in District 15 against seven-term incumbent Matt Windschitl, a fellow Republican and current Iowa House Majority Leader.
Wilkerson is originally from New Hampshire, and her family moved to Iowa when she was 11. She grew up outside Magnolia and moved to Mondamin when she and her husband of 34 years found a piece of property that they liked.
After graduating from Logan Magnolia High School at the top of her class, Wilkerson chose not to attend college. She married two days after turning 18 and knew that she wanted to have children sooner rather than later.

“I said, you know, why go to four years of college and then stay home?” Wilkerson said. “I knew my kids were my most important thing to me.”

Wilkerson has two daughters, both of whom she homeschooled, and four grandchildren. She was also a proponent of HF 2369, which would have provided public money for students wanting to attend private schools. It also would have required public school teachers to post lesson plan material for parental review.

Wilkerson said that while western Iowa doesn’t have very many private schools, “the children in the urban areas, it’s like they’re locked in to where they are.”
“They can’t go to private schools, their parents can’t afford it,” Wilkerson continued. “And that’s the thing, that’s the parents’ tax dollars. And people are screaming that this is, you know, this is public money. Well, their parents and grandparents pay taxes. So it’s their money.”


Wilkerson was also dismayed by how the county had decided to spend some of its American Rescue Plan funds.

The Harrison County Board of Supervisors committed $1 million in ARPA funds to the construction of a new building at the Willow Lake Nature Center, which Wilkerson thinks is a misuse of the funds due to a misinterpretation of the law.
“Don’t get me wrong,” Wilkerson said. “I am not against the Willow Lake recreation area. It’s a very nice place, but to take ($1 million) of our taxpayer dollars, that was not okay. ARPA funds were supposed to go to help businesses that were hurt during COVID.”
Her displeasure with the Harrison County Board fuels another reason why she decided to run for the state legislature. Iowa does not currently have a mechanism in place for the recall of local officials, such as county board members. Wilkerson would like to change that.
“If these people are doing things that they shouldn’t be, that aren’t necessarily illegal, but they’re not right, then there should be a provision in Iowa for county level and below that we can recall them,” Wilkerson said. “Say they do something egregious in the first year they’re in office, we have to wait three years to vote them out.”

Wilkerson also takes exception to the state’s biofuels bill, which Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law last month. Under the bill, most gas stations will be required to sell E15 gasoline — gasoline that is 15% ethanol — by 2026. The bill provides $5 million a year in grants for retailers that upgrade their equipment to sell E15 and higher ethanol blends. Smaller retailers are exempt from the law.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Wilkerson said. “I have a farm. I’m all for selling corn, but I’m not for mandates. That’s what I’m against.”
Much like with mask and vaccine mandates, Wilkerson simply doesn’t want to see the government telling private businesses what they have to do.
Wilkerson is aware that some voters might simply think of her as a housewife and a stay-at-home mom, and she concedes that she has a lot to learn, but she’s also confident that she can do it.
“I think that if I can figure out how to teach my children, then I can figure out what I need to do,” she said.
Wilkerson is running against Matt Windschitl in the primary election, which is June 7.