Next month, voters are heading to the polls to decided a small election with state wide consequences. The special election for Iowa Senate District 18 will decide the political leaning of the Iowa Senate. The seat was vacated by Democrat Swati Dandekar. If a Republican wins the seat, the Senate will be split 25-25.
Three candidates faced off in a forum Thursday night. Democrat Liz Mathis and Republican Cindy Golding were joined by Constitutionalist Jon Tack. He's hoping to shake up the legislature by bringing a third-party voice into the Senate.
"We do need to get back to a constitutional government, and away from party politics which has split our Senate with 25 Democrats and 24 Republicans," Tack said.
The winner of this election could be the deciding vote on some very hot topics. Thursday, the candidates gave their take on issues of jobs, education, and tax reform..
But the topic which created the most reaction from audience members was on the legalization of same-sex marriage, and whether Iowans should have a chance to vote.
Tack said, constitutionally, it's not up to the government to decide. Golding said she believes in a traditional marriage, and that Iowans should have the chance to vote, in order to put this matter behind us.
Mathis told voters, she doesn't discriminate, and feels there are more important issues to discuss.
"I think that there are a lot of outside groups that are trying to sway the opinion one way or another. And they're coming in, and they're campaigning for something they feel is important. When really, our district is about business, job growth, and education," said Mathis.
There were times when Mathis seemed a bit scattered with her answers. She initially opted not to answer a question about mental health, instead using the time to discuss education. Then, after another question was asked, she back-tracked and discussed mental health.
"I was surprised, as a participant, we weren't required to answer the question. We could go off in whatever tangent we wanted to. Because I felt people wanted to hear an answer to the question as it was asked," said Golding.
Mathis and Tack believe education reform will be the deciding issue in the race. Golding said, she believes voters care more about the economy and job creation.
Linn County voters will make their decision in the Nov. 8, election.