Al Ringgenberg is a Republican candidate running in Iowa Senate District 8 that includes Council Bluffs and Carter Lake. Ringgenberg is competing in a three-way Republican primary that will be held on June 7. The nominee will challenge Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs).
Al Ringgenberg was born and raised in Perry, Iowa, where his parents operated a small farm supply business. Just after turning age 14, Al became an Eagle Scout. He later graduated from Perry High School in 1976. In 1979, Drake University awarded Al a Bachelors Degree Magna Cum Laude, with a double major in political science and history. In 1982, he received a Juris Doctor Degree from the Drake University Law School.
Ringgenberg was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force in 1982, and married his wife Jacquelyn. Ringgenberg entered active duty in 1983 and served in the Air Force for over 20 years as an attorney and judge. He also served in the U.S. Department of Defense as an Associate Deputy General Counsel for International Law. He retired in 2004 having attained the rank of Colonel.
Ringgenberg has participated in multiple military campaigns that include Operations Just Cause, Desert Shield, Southern Watch, Northern Watch, Allied Force, Noble Anvil, Joint Forge, Resolute Eagle, and Enduring Freedom.
His military awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, two Joint Service Meritorious Service Medals, and four Air Force Meritorious Service Medals.
Ringgenberg currently serves on the Council Bluffs City Council. He and his wife Jackie remain very active in their church and participate in missions trips overseas. They are also engaged in numerous civci activities in the Council Bluffs area.
Ringgenberg took time to complete a survey that Caffeinated Thoughts sent him.
Why do you want to serve as a state legislator?
What drives me is the opportunity to serve others. I believe that I am called to this service by God. My education, my work in the law, my military service and my current service on the Council Bluffs City Council has led me to this point. I believe that working with the people, I can improve the lives of my fellow citizens. This viewpoint has guided my service as a Council Bluffs City Councilman.
Describe your worldview and what role that would play as a state legislator:
As a Christian my worldview is morally, Biblically and constitutionally based. I believe that our government exists to allow us to implement our values. As a State Senator, I will strive for legislation that does not conflict with the Judeo-Christian beliefs upon which this nation was founded.
Your top three issues of concern are?
- The growing infringement of our religious liberty, second amendment rights and rights of free expression
- Government over-regulation and over-reach into our homes, our schools, our farms, our businesses
- Burdensome and excessive taxation.
What is your position on education, in particular Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards, Iowa Core and high stakes testing?
Although it is touted as an effort to raise educational standards, Common Core and the Next Generation Science Standards only produce one centralized strategy and one centralized interpretation of ideas. History clearly shows us that this is a road to failure. There are many topics that are under debate. We do not need one government thinker telling us all what to teach about such things as the environment, social behavior, creationism and history. This is the great vulnerability of such a system. In a reflection of the free marketplace, the individual school systems that design curriculums that truly work will lead in innovation rather than following “big brother”. Testing can be a very effective tool. Tests could be used to assure that schools are actually teaching the basics instead of using classroom time for social and political indoctrination.
How do you define local control in education?
Decisions on things such as curriculums, textbooks, lunch menus and recess should be made by local school Boards. This allows greater involvement by parents and communities. It is at the local levels that the people are predominately taxed for education and it is at that level that control should reside. Interference from the federal government is not needed and state involvement should be minimal.
When does someone become a person and at what point should they be granted all constitutional protections of a person under the law?
It is at conception that fetuses become human beings or persons and by virtue of their very existence are entitled to constitutional protections under the law.
Do you support recently passed legislation in the Iowa House allowing kids under 14 to use handguns with parental supervision:
Yes. It is not the appropriate role of government to usurp the authority of parents. Unless the gun activity involves the commission of a crime, the authority of parents to train and guide their children must not be abridged by government.
Do you support Constitutional carry and the Second Amendment:
Do you support raising any taxes. And, have you supported raising any taxes in the past? If so, which ones?
In general terms, I very strongly oppose the raising of taxes. However, as a Council Bluffs City Council member I currently support a bond issue to build a desperately needed police station. I will continue to be the “Taxpayers Watchdog”, yet such things as the need to provide public safety and security may necessitate a tax. On the rare occasion a tax must be raised we must always offset that with a reduction in spending. Efficient use of the peoples’ money will result if we always tie reductions in taxation to the streamlining of government.
What will you do as a state legislator to lessen the tax burden on farmers and small businesses?
A thorough house cleaning would be a good start. Duplication of services must be eliminated. Ridiculous, excessive fees and taxes and regulations must be eliminated. In short, if we must get our state government out of the way of our farmers and businesses. We must reduce taxes on businesses to make us more competitive with neighboring states and we must reduce our reliance on TIF deals. Government should not use tax laws to pick winners and losers.
Do you support traditional marriage and is there anything you hope to do as a state legislator regarding marriage and how?
I do support Bible-based traditional marriage and I will aggressively support any legislation that attempts to protect this time-honored religious and social institution. I will share the message that strengthening this institution is about protecting our society from the chaos that will come when definitions and guidelines are destroyed. It is not actually about discrimination at all.
What is your position on Christians refusing service at same-sex weddings?
When did we become a country in which we sacrifice our personal rights when we become a business owners or service providers? Public access businesses are one thing- when a product or service is available to all, that availability is protected. However, when we enter into individual transactions we maintain personal rights. Can we tell a wedding service provider they must accept every client? Can a lawyer turn anyone away? Can a vegetarian chef be forced to make beef stew? Not yet. Not here. Theses wedding service cases are nothing more than religious persecution. I will not put government before God.
What will you do as legislator, if anything, to strengthen religious liberty?
I will be alert and vocal. Those who seek to end our liberty are not always overt. Ways to hinder or harm the open practice of religion are often hidden within laws or policies. I will be vigilant and fight with all the courage and dedication possible. The liberal media is trying to convince the people that our founders intended all expressions of faith to be banished. To the contrary, our founders wanted no national religion but instead wanted it all to be free and open. I will be a voice for this truth.
Do you support allowing Syrian refugees into Iowa?
As a military officer, I understand security risks very well while it is our primary responsibility to provide for the safety and security of all people residing in the borders of our state. It is a dangerous mistake to begin “cherry picking” groups based on cause or geography for exemption from the scrutiny that allows this security. This applies to refugees from Syria as well as from any place else. Of course we are all moved by the dire circumstances that plague these people, but the solution is not to endanger our own. We must maintain safeguards . We should place some emphasis on helping such refugees to rectify the situations that have driven them from their homes.
What types of pro-life legislation will you support?
I would support legislation that effectively saves the life of an unborn child.
Should taxpayer money pay for Planned Parenthood?
No. Tax dollars should not support abortion or many of the other questionable social programs administered by this organization. Some say Planned Parenthood deserves tax money because some of the things they do are good but there is a basic issue here that is much bigger. The people’s money is intended to support the basic functions of their government, not selected private organizations.
In what circumstances would you go against the leadership of your own caucus if elected?
My directive is a simple one: I will base all decisions and actions on what is in the best interests of the people. It does not matter to me who I would have to oppose to do what is right. These principles have guided me through many difficult City Council votes. I am proud to have earned the reputation of one who is not afraid to withstand opposition to fight for the people.