A second Democrat has entered the race in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District. Melissa Vine, a small business owner and executive director of a Des Moines nonprofit that assists women in need who are working to overcome trauma, made her announcement in an online video in which she drew a sharp contrast between herself and first-term incumbent Republican Zach Nunn.
Thank you for joining me, Melissa. I really appreciate your time. Yeah, happy to be here. So, you announced your campaign two weeks ago for the third Congressional District. What’s life been like kind of for you since then? I’ve just been overwhelmed by the response. The people I’ve been calling and talking to in social media and comments and messages, it’s like, yes, this is what we’re looking for, someone we can relate with. You’re a regular. I own lifetime own, and you get me. You get my story, and I’m excited to see you take it to Washington. Tell me some of the goals for your campaign. What are some of the main things that you want to push? Some of our top issues include access to abortion and women’s healthcare rights. We’ve got an income that works for all Iowans, right? You should be able to put a roof over your head, put food on the table, and get your kid a backpack for school. That’s if you’re working 40 hours a week. Those are things that should just be possible for you and your family. And then, third, I would say moving away from extremism. I think Iowans are ready to be done with having their rights taken away and the divisiveness that has come out of that. I’m kind of curious. If elected as a representative, how could you translate some of the services you provide at not only a state level but also at a national level? Yeah. Yeah, that’s a great question. There are so many similarities between nonprofit work and political work, right? Because you’re looking at systems change. So when I got to the Beacon, I came into space and saw systems that were harming people, right? So, in a nonprofit, you’re trying to do damage control for systems that were set up before you began, right? So, I want to go into the political sphere where those systems originated and take the same amount of determination that I have into that space with more issues and a broader audience, but also the ability to make even bigger changes. I’m super motivated by that. I watched your campaign announcement video a couple of times. One thing that kind of sticks out to me, obviously, is that you would be running against current Representative Zach Nunn, but the contrast that you kind of draw between yourself, your campaign, and his talk to me a little bit about that contrast between you guys being with the people and bringing the stories of your everyday Iowan to D.C. and advocating for what the people want. Right. So we know that hardly any Iowans want a total abortion ban, right? But to have someone as our representative who is advocating for that, that’s dangerous, right? So we want to have a representative who advocates for the things that Iowans actually want. That’s the whole job of a representative. How can your Iowan roots be reflected on Capitol Hill? Yeah, so there are some really great values for all Iowans, right? We are a hardworking group of people, and we genuinely care about our neighbors. We care about each other, and we want to see people succeed. Right. And we want people to have the human rights that they deserve in order to succeed. And I think those are values that we could all agree on and that can be really important to have in D.C..So you’re running for the third Congressional District. I already mentioned you’d be up against Representative Zach Nunn. Why do you believe it’s time for a change in that area of Iowa? Well, we’ve seen this shift toward extremism, and that’s being reflected even within our own district. And the impact of that is harming families. Right? And so we need to have systems in place that are supporting families. And I have lived in so many of those spaces. I have been in absolute poverty. When I had $0 in my bank after I left domestic violence, I was on my own with four little boys. I’ve been an hourly worker. In that first job, I checked groceries for 850 an hour. I know what it’s like to have almost no paycheck. I’ve worked in health care, so I know what the health care system is like. And navigating that and some of the problems we have in health care. Right. Lots of problems. I started and run small businesses, Right? So to be a small business owner brings all kinds of joys and challenges with it that I can relate with. And now being in nonprofit. So, there are so many spaces of what life might look like for an Iowan in their family that I can relate to. And for those that I can’t, I’m eager to learn and to bring empathy to those situations so I can carry those stories with me to D.C. I think the last thing I want to ask you, Melissa, and this is just to wrap up anything that we have missed.