When Eddie Mauro is campaigning around Iowa he considers the communities in which he finds himself.
“Every time I drive into a community I look at places where I say we help insure that,” Mauro said. “We help insure that restaurant; we help insure that daycare…”
As president and chief executive of UIG, a Des Moines-based insurance company he founded, Mauro and his team of 70 people provide property and casualty insurance to businesses in all 99 Iowa counties. He’s also one of five candidates for U.S. Senate in the June 2 Democratic primary election.
On Thursday, Jan. 16, Blog for Iowa interviewed Mauro at a coffee shop in Coralville. When I arrived he was standing at a table with his hands on his hips. He appeared to be stretching after sitting in his vehicle for a while. He had another stop in Waterloo after our interview so it would be a long day of campaigning. This post reflects a transcription of his responses to my questions.
In addition to running a successful insurance company, Mauro spent a lifetime in community organizing and activism. Mauro is a founding member of AMOS (A Midwest Organizing Strategy) which “seek(s) to channel individual action into a responsible and powerfully organized force for the common good,” according to the AMOS website. He also worked as a coach in a number of small Iowa towns.
BFIA: What does being a community organizer mean to you?
MAURO: I started doing service work back to (when) I was 14 years old. Catholic Worker in Des Moines was forming then. I started getting involved with the homeless at an early age and have been involved with the homeless community ever since. As a teacher we used to take kids out in the mornings. We would crawl under bridges, and abandoned buildings, or wooded areas, and we would serve the homeless. We had a Saturday program as well with the produce in the impoverished neighborhoods of Des Moines. I’m still doing homeless work.
BFIA: In terms of community service, what are you most proud of?
MAURO: Proud of?
BFIA: What do you look at and say, “boy this was really good.”
MAURO: I’m not proud of any of it. I feel good that God’s given me the wherewithal to step up and help. I do a project in Tanzania called Water Systems of Tanzania. I go over there usually a couple of times a year. It’s a phenomenal project. We created a non profit called the Purify Project. We have some water quality issues here in this country for sure. People are dying every day in Africa. So it’s a good project.
BFIA: Why are you running for U.S. Senate?
MAURO: There are a lot of reasons for running. Primarily that Iowans deserve a leader today to address the problems facing this country with the urgency and the courage that’s demanded in this moment in history. We don’t get that out of Joni Ernst. We have a United States Senate that is broken and under performing.
BFIA: How do you deal with Joni Ernst’s popularity? She was popular in 2014, she continues to be popular.
MAURO: First of all her popularity has been sliding as people are starting to sense that a lot of that was a ruse. She’s been doing a good job of talking, misleading, and conning, and tricking people. It’s starting to become evident that she hasn’t done anything meaningful for Iowans. In fact, she hasn’t even been a senator for Iowans, (but) a senator for special interests and big industry, for her buddies the Koch brothers who created her, who she’s fiercely loyal to. The people in the state deserve better than that. I don’t think she’s overly popular here. I think there’s a lot of holes in that popularity. We are going to talk about she’s voted to take health care away from Iowans five times.
BFIA: I’m seeing people who don’t care about that and are willing to set her voting record aside and say, “she’s our girl.” There’s a plain acceptance of her votes on issues.
MAURO: Those issues are real, Paul. To go out to people and say, ‘Yep, you really like her. Well why do you like her?’ Are you aware of what she’s done for the healthcare? Are you aware of what she’s done to women’s rights? Are you aware what she’s done to turn her back on vulnerable women who are domestic violence survivors? Are you aware of what she’s doing to our public schools, the future for our kids and our teachers? Are you aware of what she’s done for rural Iowa, of the lack of courage that she’s displayed when it comes to the renewable fuel standard, and how she’s cow-tied to the president?
It’s not enough to say all the bad things she did, you have to very well stand for something. So I’m out preaching what I think are strong progressive bona fides while I talk about what we can be doing in rural Iowa. What we can be doing on Main Streets and town squares that I do business with now for over twenty years. What we can do with rural farmers to really give them a strong P&L and balance sheet, something they are yearning for. While at the same time tackling climate change. So we’re going to go out and communicate that we deserve better and we can do better than what we’ve gotten out of Joni Ernst who has not been a senator for this state.
We go out and sell that message wide and far, we’re convinced our strategy shows us that we win this race by five to seven points.
~ First published on Blog for Iowa