Q&A: Meet our presence at the Iowa State Capitol

Clay & Milk will be covering the 87th General Assembly of the Iowa Legislature and anything that impacts Iowa’s tech, startup and art communities.

Although she’s only in her second year at Drake University, Morgan Garner—a Strategic Political Communication and Economics major—has enough credits to be a senior and will report on any legislation impacting those communities.

Garner is a native of St. Louis who has spent time as an intern for LobbyIt in Washington D.C, a communication assistant at the Drake University Agricultural Law Center and a political columnist for the student newspaper the Times-Delphic.

We got a chance to know her during the interview process but thought we’d introduce her to our readers.

Our Q&A is below:

& How did you get to Des Moines?

MG: I’m from St. Louis, Missouri but happily transplanted to Iowa in 2016. I chose to attend school in Iowa, specifically at Drake, because of my love of politics and presidents. I wanted to be in the state that plays a huge role in picking our next president. I’m a sophomore at Drake studying Economics and Strategic Political Communication. I plan to graduate early and move out to D.C. right after.

& How were first introduced to politics?

MG: My dad doesn’t know it, but he’s very political. He’s always grumbling about what he heard on NPR or saw in The Atlantic. Because of that, I always feel behind if I don’t know what is going on in my state, nation and world.

My earliest political memory was watching Obama’s 2008 inauguration on television. I was in fifth grade and was turned on in the classroom when I arrived. My teacher kept repeating, “Class, you’ll remember this forever” because she was so proud that an African American was elected president.

& Talk about your experiences being involved in politics

MG: Tangibly, I’ve only worked in politics for a little over a year. As soon as I got to Drake, I joined a congressional campaign and worked as a field intern. I knocked hundreds of doors and called hundreds of people. Like most people, I strongly disliked field work, but I had to start from the bottom.

The spring after the campaign, I worked for Vote Smart, a non-partisan research organization, doing bill research. I learned valuable tracking skills and knowledge of political structure.

During the summer of 2017, I interned in Washington, D.C., at a boutique government relations firm called Lobbyit. I loved the entire experience, which allowed me to visit the Hill and watch hearings and events every day.

& How has that experience prepared you to cover the Iowa Legislature?

MG: My unique mixture of experiences working on a campaign, for a political research organization and for a lobbying firm provide a well-rounded perspective to see what people want and need to hear from the happenings at the Capitol.

& What made you want to cover the Iowa Legislature?

MG: I love Iowa, and I love politics, so the opportunity to merge the two is ideal. While I do want to live in D.C. one day, Iowa provides a great learning experience and context for national politics. Like America, Iowa land is mostly rural, but the population is mostly urban, creating a challenge for politicians trying to navigate the urban-rural divide. Iowa politics will hopefully prepare me for seeing that challenge on a national level.

& What issues get your attention?

MG: I always pay attention to farm bills or anything related to agriculture because my family has a fifth-generation farm in Southern Illinois. Furthermore, I’m really intrigued by cybersecurity legislation (and the lack of it).

& Other students your age, what are they saying about politics?

MG: Despite our surprisingly high turnout in November 2016, most are still disengaged. Interests piqued with the sexual misconduct scandals, likely because a large percentage of students are from Minnesota, home of Al Franken.

& What excites you about covering the legislative session?

MG: I greatly anticipate this much-talked-about tax reform. I’ll also be interested in how the water quality bill is passed and how it’s funded.

& What do you want Clay & Milk readers to know about you as a reporter?

MG: I really want to create a reputation for accuracy and fairness that I can
carry throughout my career.