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With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging in the U.S., many voters are choosing to stay safe and vote absentee prior to the Nov. 3 election.

In Iowa, ballot request forms have been mailed out to every active voter, some by the county auditor, most by Secretary of State Paul Pate, and more being mailed by the political parties and other independent voting advocacy groups. However, applications in three counties — Linn, Johnson and Woodbury — were invalidated by separate court decisions because auditors in those counties proactively filled out voter information beyond Pate’s directives.

But with the mailing of the ballots starting Oct. 5 — 29 days prior to election day as dictated by Iowa law — Waverly Newspapers is continuing its tradition to summarize who and what will be voted on this year.

There are three contested races of local interest. Republican Supervisor Ken Kammeyer will face Democratic challenger Dean Mitchell for the Supervisor District 1 seat. The district includes Wards 1, 2, 3 and 4 in Waverly along with the unincorporated areas of Washington Township east of Easton Avenue and east of the Waverly city limits.

Kammeyer is a retired real estate agent seeking his fifth term on the board.

His challenger, Mitchell, owner of Dean Mitchell Insurance in Waverly, is seeking public office for the first time but has served as the president of the Waverly Softball Association and is a past AMVETS post commander.

Meanwhile, the other county-level offices are uncontested. Supervisor Dewey Hildebrandt is seeking a third term in District 3; Auditor Shelley Wolf and Sheriff Dan Pickett are also unopposed for their races.

At the state level, both of Statehouse races are contested. State Rep. Sandy Salmon, R-Janesville, faces Democratic challenger Carissa Froyum, of Denver, in House District 63.

Salmon, a retired Marine and farm manager, is hoping to be voted in for her sixth term.

Meanwhile, Froyum, an instructor at the University of Northern Iowa, hopes to flip the seat to the blue side. The district includes all of Bremer County and the northern part of Black Hawk County outside of Waterloo and Cedar Falls.

State Sen. Craig Johnson, R-Independence, will is challenged by Pam Egli, a Democrat from Waverly in Senate District 32.

Johnson, a financial planner and former director of Heartland Acres Agribition Center in Independence, is running for a second term after defeating long-time Sen. Brian Schoenjahn, D-Arlington, in 2016.

Egli, a retired teacher at Waverly-Shell Rock, is also seeking office for the first time.

At the federal level, there are two high-profile congressional races in which Bremer County voters can have a say.

For the 1st Congressional District, current Rep. Abby Finkenauer, a Democrat from Dubuque, looks for her second term against State Rep. Ashley Hinson, a Marion Republican.

Finkenauer served two terms in the Iowa House, being elected at age 25 soon after graduating from Drake University. She defeated former Rep. Rod Blum, a fellow Dubuquer, in the 2018 midterm election.

Hinson is a former morning news anchor at KCRG-TV, where she signed on after her graduation from the University of Southern California. The West Des Moines Valley alumna has also served two terms in the Iowa House before entering the 1st District race.

There is a four-way race for Senate: incumbent Joni Ernst, a Republican from Red Oak, Theresa Greenfield, a Des Moines Democrat, Rick Stewart, a Libertarian from Postville, and Suzanne Herzog, a non-party candidate from West Des Moines originally from Cedar Rapids.

Ernst became the first Iowa woman to be elected to either Congress or governor following her victory over former Rep. Bruce Braley in 2014 to replace the retiring Sen. Tom Harkin. She says she is also the first female combat veteran in the Senate, having attained the rank of lieutenant colonel and having served in Iraq and Kuwait with a transportation company.

Greenfield is making her second attempt at public office. Several signatures on her petition for the primary in the 3rd Congressional District were deemed invalid in 2018. She has worked as a president of a Colby Interests, a real estate company in Des Moines.

Stewart is a retired entrepreneur and former law enforcement officer. He’s been active in the Libertarian Party ever since he tried to get then-presidential candidate Gary Johnson into the 2012 presidential debates. He ran independently in the 2014 Senate race, then ran as a Libertarian for Linn County Sheriff in 2016 and for Secretary of Agriculture in 2018.

Herzog is a nurse by trade, having earned her degree at Kirkwood Community College before working with the VA hospital in Puerto Rico and later a private hospital emergency room in San Juan before moving to West Des Moines in 1995. She is looking to be the first independent senator from Iowa.

The presidential field is crowded, but it’s dominated by the two major party tickets: The Republican incumbents are President Donald Trump, a New York native now residing in Palm Beach, Florida, and Vice President Mike Pence, of Indiana. The Democratic challengers are former Vice President Joe Biden, who is also a former Delaware senator, with running mate Kamala Harris, a senator from California who is also a former prosecutor in the San Francisco Bay area.

The third-party candidates for president include Howie Hawkins and Angela Nicole Walker of the Green Party, Jo Jorgensen and Jeremy Cohen of the Libertarian Party, Roque Rocky de la Fuente and Darcy Richardson of the Alliance Party, Don Blankenship and William Alan Mohr of the Constitution Party of Iowa, Ricki Sue King and Dayna R. Chandler of the Genealogy Know Your Family History Party, and two tickets nominated by petition: rapper Kanye West and running mate Michelle Tidball, and Brock Pierce and Karla Ballard.

In addition, voters in Iowa will be asked to vote on a ballot measure to call a state constitutional convention, which is done every 10 years. The last five times the question has been on the ballot, the call for the convention had been rejected, according to Ballotpedia.