Photo: Jeremy Leong
When people imagine a member of a statehouse legislature, they tend to picture a middle-aged male, often one who is distant from their concerns. But in Iowa, there is a candidate who is challenging that stereotype. Twenty-two-year-old Jake Highfill is a Republican running for the Iowa Statehouse this year.
“People are tired of the rich, white, old guy sitting in the office,” Highfill said. “People want new faces. They want change.”
Highfill majored in business and minored in exercise science at the University of Iowa. He hopes to one day start his own business. Highfill favors low taxes and few regulations on businesses to spur job growth and economic development.
“I’m a fiscal conservative first; I believe that government is not the answer,” Highfill said.
A major aspect of Highfill’s campaign is going door-to-door to talk to people about what issues are important to them. Highfill said this is not to ask for votes, but to hear people’s experiences and listen to their concerns.
“I have to have a lot of people trust me and have a lot of people know that I’m a great candidate,” Highfill said.
Highfill and his family have a long tradition of working at Hy-Vee. Highfill’s father, Brent Highfill, started working at Hy-Vee when he was 16 and is now president of a Hy-Vee subsidiary and assistant vice president of Hy-Vee. While working at Hy-Vee, Brent met his wife Renee, who currently works as a certified pharmaceutical technician at Hy-Vee.
Highfill and his sister both worked at Hy-Vee from a young age, and Highfill connects his political beliefs to his experience with Hy-Vee.
“Businesses create jobs, not the government,” Highfill said. “Coming from a family of lifelong Hy-Vee employees, which is Iowa’s largest private employer, I know what it takes to create jobs.”
Highfill says that, if elected, he will honor the Constitution, lower taxes and remove regulations on “Iowa’s job creators,” defend the Second Amendment, protect the sanctity of life and decrease the size of government.
Some students express concern that someone so young, nearly the age of many Drake students, might have difficulty getting votes later this fall.
“His age doesn’t matter. It’s about experience. He theoretically could have more experience than an older candidate if he spent his time well. However, some people will still think he’s too young,” Kevin Smaller, first-year, said.
Other students feel that those who are younger are more connected to the issues in modern times.
“I think a lot of times people who run for office are older, so they don’t relate to our generation,” said first-year student Mckayla Crouss. “If he had the right stance on issues, and he could prove he knows what he’s doing, he could stand a chance.”