On Saturday morning, California Member of Congress Ro Khanna stopped in Dubuque during his tour of midwestern cities and towns. Rep. Khanna is gathering insight on the pressing need to bring increased technology-related industry and jobs to middle America.

Rep. Khanna addresses Dubuque Mayor Brad Cavanaugh and area education and business leaders.

Greater Dubuque Development hosted an informal gathering of 25 area leaders, including Mayor Brad Cavanagh, City Councilors, State Senator Pam Jochum, and education and business representatives.

I first met Ro Khanna and began to follow his career in 2014 when he ran to unseat a longtime California Bay Area member of Congress. You could see then that Khanna was a bright young candidate and potential rising political star. Unfortunately, as is often the case in first attempts at attaining political office, Khanna came up short. Still, the effort paid off when he ran again and won two years later. So, it was nice to see Khanna engaging in the role of a congressman, proactively meeting and listening to folks in Iowa.

Photo Credit: Keith B. via Canvas
Photo Credit: Keith B. via Canva

Today, Ro Khanna represents California's 17th Congressional District, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, where he is serving his third term. With tech titans like Google and Apple in his district, Khanna represents a part of California and America with a tech industry-worth TRILLIONS and untold individual billionaires and multi-millionaires. It's the sort of unprecedented wealth unseen and perhaps even challenging to comprehend in most other parts of the country.

So why does Ro Khanna care about a place like Dubuque, Janesville, Wisconsin, or New Castle, Indiana? To his credit, Khanna may be one of the few members of the U.S. Congress who grasps the big picture on economic, cultural, and social issues dividing the country. Including having the understanding that America's long-term success requires spreading and sharing prosperity beyond the wealthy coastal enclaves and back to middle-American communities like Dubuque.

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Dubuque City Councilor Katy Wethel shares exchanges insights with Rep. Ro Khanna
Dubuque City Councilor Katy Wethel exchanges ideas with Rep. Ro Khanna


There needs to be a new economic patriotism in America. Where we invest and rebuild with cutting edge technology in middle-America, creating 21st Century jobs and spreading and sharing prosperity in places like Dubuque and other parts of rural and middle America. - U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17)

According to his website and what he said on Saturday, Rep. Khanna is working to ensure our nation focuses on creating new tech jobs across the country. Mainly for Americans left out of the technology economy. His plan invests in science and technology to win the 21st Century. In addition, his ideas include enhanced job training programs, economic development initiatives, re-wiring of the U.S. infrastructure, and debt-free college to help working families prepare for the future.

Photo Credit: Keith B. via Canva
Photo Credit: Keith B. via Canva

It was Khanna's first trip to Dubuque, and the Congressman had an immediate positive impression of the City and the Tri-State Region. Noting that, Dubuque is a shining example of a community demonstrating how to forge effective business and government partnerships to create a robust and efficient economy. However, much remains to be done to maintain what has been established while bringing increased technology, jobs, and sustainable prosperity to the local and regional economies.

Photo Credit: Keith B. / Timmy O'Malley
Dubuque City Councilor Katy Wethel, Rep. Ro Khanna & WJOD Good Morning Rodeo Host Keith Breitbach. Photo Credit: Keith B.

Those community leaders in attendance expressed gratitude for the visit. Still, they took the opportunity to stress the concern for additional attention from federal officials on essential items necessary to maintain ongoing local economic efforts. At the same time, such measures also support Khanna's initiative and broader vision.

Local economic development leaders noted that Dubuque is doing everything possible to maintain, sustain and grow our local economy. Yet, there still needs to be sensible and equitable long-range Federal level planning to ensure local job creation, business, and other economic opportunities aren't missed.

Greater Dubuque Development President Rick Dickinson noted that the Federal Government gave billions to subsidize and bail out the airlines. However, despite federal assistance in building a first-class $25 million airport terminal, the Dubuque Regional Airport will soon be left stranded without a commercial carrier as American Airlines plans its farewell departure in September. So, despite billions in subsidies, the airline now cites a lack of pilots as its primary reason for pulling out regional airports of similar size throughout the country.

Participants emphasized to Rep. Khanna that a reliable, comprehensive transportation system is vital to the region's continued economic growth and long-term viability. Therefore, the Federal Government must ensure essential regional economies like Dubuque aren't overlooked regarding transportation policy and infrastructure investment.

Additionally, several in attendance commented and agreed that a "fresh set of eyes" with Khanna's leadership might restore much-needed common sense in Washington. Citing several instances of his work to forge bipartisan relationships, Khanna agreed that finding common ground is vital to resolving the nation's most pressing concerns.

Based on the reaction of those gathered around the table this past Saturday morning, several area leaders appreciated Ro Khanna's vision and are now rooting for his success.

Being one of 435 members of Congress and getting a coalition to agree on significant legislation is a tall order under the best set of circumstances. Still, it was terrific to welcome to Dubuque one of the next generation's thoughtful leaders capable and willing to give it a try.

A Democrat, Khanna comes from a middle-class family with his parents immigrating to the United States in the early 1970s in search of the American Dream. Indeed, already in his third term, their son Ro Khanna has risen to represent what may be the wealthiest and undoubtedly most significant technological and entrepreneurial Congressional District in America.

To learn more about Congressman Ro Khanna, visit khanna.house.gov.




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