Iowa City – Christina Bohannan(D) is campaigning to unseat a two-decade incumbent Vicki Lensing(D) in Iowa House District 85. This is the first challenge Lensing has faced since she first joined the Iowa House in 2001. GoGuide has reached out to Lensing campaign, however, at press time there has been no response.
The primary winner would be heavily favored to win the November election. According to Iowa City Press-Citizen, there are 47,133 registered active Democrats in the district, which is more than three times the number of Republicans (16,173).
The first in her family to go to college, she worked her way through school as an engineer with the State of Florida Department of Environmental Protection. She graduated with honors with a degree in Environmental Engineering. She then went on to law school at the University of Florida, where she graduated first in her class and was Editor-in-Chief of the law review.
Twenty years ago, Christina moved to Iowa City to become a law professor at the University of Iowa. She teaches and writes in several areas of law, including Constitutional Law, Torts, and Intellectual Property. She enjoys teaching the vital role of law and constitutional democracy in a just and vibrant society.
While at the University of Iowa, Christina has served as Faculty Senate President, where she drafted and championed a university-wide policy that gave hundreds of non-tenure track faculty greater job security, a path to promotion, and grievance rights. She has also led initiatives related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, faculty development, and free speech.
Christina is the proud mom of City High Senior Mira Bohannan Kumar, an enthusiastic yellow lab named Honey, and a stubborn (but sweet) little spaniel named Ginger. She has been involved in several community organizations, including groups that advocate for gun violence prevention, women’s empowerment, and social justice
GoGuide goes one-on-one with Christina Bohannan
GG: Describe House District 85 for our readers.
CB: Iowa House District 85 covers roughly the northern half of Iowa City. With a few exceptions, it runs from Burlington Street/Muscatine Avenue north up to around I-80, and from Manville Heights east across the University, downtown, and eastside areas, ending at Scott Township.
GG: What most essential issues for your constituents?
CB: In talking to hundreds of constituents across the district, the paramount concern right now is a coronavirus and its effect on both people and the economy. It is also clear that people are worried about education, healthcare, worker rights (minimum wage, collective bargaining, wage theft), the environment and climate change, and gun safety.
GG: a woman has held this district for many years. Obviously, this trend will continue. How important is it that more women are elected to office?
CB: I think it is crucial to elect women to office, and I want to be clear that I include in that any person identifying as a woman. Women are collaborative and empathetic. They are pragmatic and want to get things done. We also need women in office to serve as role models and mentors for the next generation of women. I have been active in 50-50 by 2020, an advocacy group helping to get women elected in Iowa. It is a great resource in this effort.
GG: Fundraising ability has become an issue in this campaign. What is your take on this issue?
CB: I wish money were not such a big factor in politics, but so long as it is, we have to work hard at it. Iowa City is the bluest part of the state, and it has more resources than many other districts. A representative from Iowa City has a huge responsibility to raise money to help elect Democratic candidates in other districts. It is the only way Democrats can take back the House and restore any balance in our legislature. I have talked to many people who are frustrated that we have not been raising enough money in the district. I have been successful in raising money, even though as a primary challenger I have had no support from the party. If elected, I am confident that I would be a very strong fundraiser, and I would be fully committed to that effort.
GG: This session began with an unusual amount of anti-LGBTQ+ issues being proposed by the majority party. Fortunately, these proposals did not make it out of committee, but the sentiment remains. What is your take on this development? Should the LGBTQ+ community be concerned?
CB: Yes, we all should be concerned about anti-LGBTQ sentiment and legislative proposals. At the University of Iowa, I have worked hard on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion for the LGBTQ community as well as other marginalized communities. Although we should celebrate the victories of the past couple of decades, we must continue to resist ongoing prejudice. My concern about equity for vulnerable populations is one of the reasons I think it is so important to flip seats and take back the House.
GG: What do you see as the most critical items for the upcoming session of the Iowa legislature?
CB: Honestly, there are so many. Even before coronavirus hit, the legislature had been disinvesting in education and healthcare. It had struck down Johnson County’s minimum wage and eviscerated collective bargaining rights. It had failed to protect the environment or take action on climate change. All of these continue to be challenges. In addition, in the upcoming session, the legislature is scheduled to take up a proposed state constitutional amendment that the NRA says creates an “iron wall” around gun rights. But the driving factor for the upcoming session will likely be the coronavirus and its health and economic effects. It has already damaged the state budget, which will limit the resources available for other priorities. At the same time, the virus will continue to be a presence in our lives, and we will need to continue to provide resources to keep people safe while trying to keep the economy afloat. These are daunting challenges, and we need strong leadership now more than ever.
GG: Elections have consequences. What can the LGBTQ+ community do to organize and elect more LGBTQ+ candidates and LGBTQ+ friendly candidates?
CB: This type of candidate interview is a great start, and it is good to see that your questions are tailored to this particular race. I would also increase your leverage by looking for allies who might have similar concerns about the treatment of marginalized groups generally. Finally, get involved with grassroots groups who are actively working to flip seats to blue. They need your help and would welcome you with open arms! GG
Visit https://www.bohannanforiowa.com/ for more information.