Government

Know your candidates for governor: We posed five questions each to the six Democrats running

A debate between the Iowa Democratic gubernatorial candidates is held at the KWQC Studio in Davenport on Sunday, May 13, 2018. The Democratic primary will be held June, 5, 2018.
A debate between the Iowa Democratic gubernatorial candidates is held at the KWQC Studio in Davenport on Sunday, May 13, 2018. The Democratic primary will be held June, 5, 2018.
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Six candidates are competing for the party nomination for governor in the Democratic primary election June 5. The nominee will face Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds in the November general election. The Des Moines Bureau asked each of the candidates a series of questions. Some responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.

CATHY GLASSON

 
  • Residence: Coralville
  • Age: 59
  • Family: husband Matt, one daughter
  • Professional and political experience: registered nurse, local union president
  • Website: cathyglasson.com

Q: What would be your No. 1 priority as governor, and what steps would you take to achieve it?

A: I believe the No. 1 job of a governor is to raise wages and improve the standard of living for every Iowan, and on that key job Kim Reynolds and the Republican Legislature have failed miserably. We have 381,000 families, nearly a third of Iowa families, struggling to make ends meet each and every month and they are looking for big ideas to turn things around. That’s why our campaign has come out bold since Day 1 to support raising the minimum wage to $15 fast, expanding and strengthening union rights including the reversal of right to work laws, and enacting single-payer universal health care in Iowa.

Q: Given the likelihood that you would be working with a Legislature with either Republican or split control, how will you implement your agenda?

A: A governor needs to lead and be the loudest voice in setting the agenda that would improve the lives of every Iowan, but nobody can do it alone. ... The truth is, in this country, change has always come from everyday people demanding it. ... Nobody elected Kim Reynolds and these legislators to take away workers’ rights, privatize Medicaid or close Planned Parenthood clinics. That doesn’t represent what Iowans want and I believe Iowans are ready to rise up and work with us to demand that change. And if we let them lead, we can achieve these bold ideas because change always comes bottom up, never from the top down.

Q: How will you begin to address privatized management of Medicaid and issues related to cost, access, quality of care and reimbursement? Given the program’s increased cost, can Iowa afford to return to a state-run Medicaid program?

A: I absolutely believe that we need to reverse the privatization of Medicaid and return it to a state-run program as quickly as possible. ... While I think reversing privatization is a good first step, I believe we will never truly reduce health care costs until we invest in single-payer universal health care. It’s the only real way to ensure that Iowans get the care they need when they need it without having to worry how they are going to pay the bill.

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Q: What needs do you think are most important to Iowa’s economic future, and what steps would you take to meet those needs?

A: We must raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and do it fast ... We must invest in unions and fight against the misleadingly named “right to work laws” in this state ... We also must get the greed of the private insurance companies out of our health care and invest in single payer universal health care. ... We must freeze tuition at our public universities (and) expand loan forgiveness plans so students can graduate debt free, and make community college tuition-free.

Q: How would you ensure that Iowa’s students get a first-class education, and if this involves increases in funding how would you pay for it?

A: From Day 1 of this campaign I came out bold to say that I support public school funding at levels 6 percent higher than current funding, and that I would veto anything less than a 4 percent increase. And this isn’t a radical idea because 4 percent is what we used to fund our public education at back when Iowa’s education system was considered world-class. ... The money is there to invest in our schools, in our teachers and in our students. We just need leaders in state government who are willing to fight for it.

FRED HUBBELL

 
  • Residence: Des Moines
  • Age: 67
  • Family: wife Charlotte, three children, three grandchildren
  • Professional and political experience: chairman of Younkers, president of Equitable of Iowa, chairman of Iowa Power Fund, interim director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development
  • Website: fredhubbell.com

Q: What would be your No. 1 priority as governor, and what steps would you take to achieve it?

A: First, we need to restore fiscal responsibility in order to invest in priorities like education, job training and health care to get Iowa growing for the long-term. Gov. Reynolds’ fiscal mismanagement and misguided priorities have taken an almost billion dollar surplus four years ago to $144 million in debt while underfunding our schools and reducing access to quality health care for over 50,000 Iowans. I would put people first by ending the shortsighted, wasteful corporate giveaways that cost our state millions and use that money to grow Iowa’s high-skilled workforce and expand access to quality health care. That’s how we will actually attract new business to Iowa.

Q: Given the likelihood that you would be working with a Legislature with either Republican or split control, how will you implement your agenda?

A: When I was on the Board of Planned Parenthood, I was approached by the Catholic nun who ran Mercy Hospital who asked me to join their board. After explaining that I wouldn’t step down from Planned Parenthood but would gladly join their efforts if they wanted me, she told me that what we agreed on was far greater than what we disagreed on. We both wanted to ensure every Iowan received good quality, health care, and in that spirit, there was a lot of good that we could do together. That’s the approach I will bring to government.

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Q: How will you begin to address privatized management of Medicaid and issues related to cost, access, quality of care and reimbursement? Given the program’s increased cost, can Iowa afford to return to a state-run Medicaid program?

A: On Day 1, I will work to reverse the privatization of Medicaid and create a system that works for Iowans, is run by Iowans and puts patients first, not profits. Gov. Reynolds’ failed privatization experiment has reduced or denied coverage for over 40,000 Iowans, forced local providers to close because of delayed or denied payments and cost Iowans far more than was promised. ... I’m going to put our budget behind the right priorities to ensure Iowans receive the quality health care they deserve, utilizing some of the $160 million from the identified wasteful tax giveaways, but also implementing more efficient management of the system.

Q: What needs do you think are most important to Iowa’s economic future, and what steps would you take to meet those needs?

A: We need a long-term approach and fiscally responsible leadership managing Iowa’s budget and economic future. That means investing in people not wasteful tax giveaways. With my decades of experience managing complex budgets, I will turn Gov. Reynolds’ fiscal mess around and invest in education, health care and local infrastructure like high-speed broadband and housing, to get Iowa growing the right way. ... As governor I would personally reach out to Iowa’s trade partners to establish stable, long-term, bilateral relationships that secure the markets for Iowa grown goods for the long-term.

Q: How would you ensure that Iowa’s students get a first-class education, and if this involves increases in funding how would you pay for it?

A: Iowa used to have one of the best education systems in the country, but years of underfunding have taken our schools backwards. ... As governor, I will work to restore Iowa’s national leadership on education and job training so students are prepared for successful careers and can attract high-paying jobs across Iowa. In addition to fully funding pre-K and K-12 public schools and making higher education more affordable, I will restore collective bargaining rights for our teachers so that we can recruit and retain the best talent to shape our young people.

ANDY MCGUIRE

 
  • Residence: Des Moines
  • Age: 61
  • Family: husband Dan, seven children, one grandchild
  • Professional and political experience: physician, Iowa Democratic Party chairwoman
  • Website: mcguireforgovernor.com

Q: What would be your No. 1 priority as governor, and what steps would you take to achieve it?

A: As a medical doctor and health care expert with executive experience, my No. 1 priority would be improving the health care system for every Iowan. From the Medicaid privatization mess to limiting women’s access to health care and the state’s mental health crisis, health care has not been a priority in the Reynolds administration. Improving health care will be at the front and center in my administration. My agenda includes bringing Medicaid back into the state, restoring funding to Planned Parenthood and ensuring that every Iowan has access to affordable health care.

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Q: Given the likelihood that you would be working with a Legislature with either Republican or split control, how will you implement your agenda?

A: Democrats and Republicans need to start talking to one another again. We need to put our political differences aside and sit down at the table and have a real discussion about policies that are truly Iowans’ best interests. This is something that the Republican legislators and Gov. Reynolds have failed to do after gaining full control last year. ... We need to bring civility and compromise back to state government, and remember that we serve at the pleasure of the people of Iowa, not lobbyists and special interests.

Q: How will you begin to address privatized management of Medicaid and issues related to cost, access, quality of care and reimbursement? Given the program’s increased cost, can Iowa afford to return to a state-run Medicaid program?

A: I’ve spoken with people whose lives are impacted by the Medicaid mess, and it’s clear that we must bring it back under the state’s control. ... It’s clear that we must make changes to this system, and as a doctor and health care professional who has worked with Medicaid, I know how to do that. I’ll begin by bringing together patients, doctors, and Medicaid providers to discuss how we can fix the current system we have or look for new ways to structure the way we deliver care. Medicaid privatization is costing us more money and worsening the quality of life of too many patients.

Q: What needs do you think are most important to Iowa’s economic future, and what steps would you take to meet those needs?

A: I’ll create a division within the (state economic development board) to bring together local economists, business leaders and educators in our communities to strategize the best path forward for job creation in rural communities. I’ll also look for new ways to help businesses through the creation of regional targeted loan funds that are tasked with encouraging economic development in towns smaller than 25,000 residents. ... We also need to take measures to address our state’s rural housing crisis. One way to do that is to raise wages to bridge the gap between income and housing affordability.

Q: How would you ensure that Iowa’s students get a first-class education, and if this involves increases in funding how would you pay for it?

A: Iowa’s education budget is a matter of making it a priority. The fact is, the Republican budget for education has not kept up with the cost of inflation, so funding for our public schools has fallen over the past 10 years. ... As governor, I will make sure the education budget keeps up with the rise in inflation by adjusting (state funding) to meet the demands world class schools require. Shifting priorities so out-of-state corporations, through tax cuts, are not robbing our students, our educators and our communities of the vital funds they need is the first priority.

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JOHN NORRIS

 
  • Residence: Des Moines
  • Age: 59
  • Family: wife Jackie, three children,
  • Professional and political experience: aide to U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell, Gov. and USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack, President Barack Obama, co-owner of State Public Policy Group
  • Website: norrisforthepeople.com

Q: What would be your No. 1 priority as governor, and what steps would you take to achieve it?

A: My No. 1 priority goal is to make Iowa the best again in America in public education. ... My No. 1 priority executive action as governor will be to reverse the privatization of Medicaid. We must rebuild our state workforce to administer a state-run Medicaid, so we will have a phased-in approach beginning with our most severely disabled and individuals with the most severe mental health needs. Patients, families, providers and hospitals will all be invited to participate in developing the new system where success is measured in meeting patient needs, not insurance company profit margins.

Q: Given the likelihood that you would be working with a Legislature with either Republican or split control, how will you implement your agenda?

A: I will convene leaders from both parties to identify the easiest problem we all agree needs to be resolved and we will find an agreeable solution. Then the next most difficult problem to resolve becomes easier. We won’t agree on everything, but first and foremost we have to learn to work together where we can. ... In some cases it means reaching across the aisle to members and working to address concerns through compromise. In other cases it’s using the power of the governor’s office to apply pressure from the outside, and take the argument to reluctant member’s districts.

Q: How will you begin to address privatized management of Medicaid and issues related to cost, access, quality of care and reimbursement? Given the program’s increased cost, can Iowa afford to return to a state-run Medicaid program?

A: The privatization of Medicaid has been a disaster for patients and providers since Day 1. ... I believe both in terms of cost and quality of care we need a publicly administered managed care system driven by the goal of best patient outcomes delivered in the most efficient way possible. Enabling for-profit insurers to carve a profit margin out of limited resources dedicated to serving our most vulnerable citizens and then expecting quality care and saving money is fundamentally flawed. The most effective way to manage costs will be through a state-run program.

Q: What needs do you think are most important to Iowa’s economic future, and what steps would you take to meet those needs?

A: Addressing the cycle of poverty that exists in Iowa for so many families is the lynch pin for a broad spectrum of our most pressing issues. We know that children born into poverty are less likely to be reading proficient at an early age, more likely to have untreated mental illness, and more likely to remain in poverty for the rest of their lives. Wage growth in our state is almost dead last in America. We must act to change this. I believe it is critical to combat this cycle by raising wages, properly funding our schools, and investing in job skills training and higher education.

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Q: How would you ensure that Iowa’s students get a first-class education, and if this involves increases in funding how would you pay for it?

A: We must restore collective bargain rights for teachers and we need an annual increase of 4 percent in state supplemental aid for at least four years. Through a combination of capping tax credits and converting select business tax credits to deductions, requiring corporations to file their Iowa tax returns on a nationwide combined basis, adjusting the franchise tax on regional and national banks and the collection of sales tax on online sales, we can restore the funding our schools so desperately need.

ROSS WILBURN

 
  • Residence: Ames
  • Age: 53
  • Family: divorced, two children
  • Professional and political experience: Iowa City mayor and council member, diversity officer for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
  • Website: letsbeiowa.com

Q: What would be your No. 1 priority as governor, and what steps would you take to achieve it?

A: The most important issue facing Iowa is adequate mental health care and a comprehensive mental health care system for children. Mental health care cuts across political party and eventually impacts Iowans directly or indirectly through effected family and friends. ... As governor, I would reverse privatized Medicaid with a state run system with input from recipients and providers. I would create tuition incentives for mental health care graduates who stay in Iowa for two years in order to increase the pool of appropriate providers and higher levels of funding for prekindergarten programs and K-12 education for early assessment and treatment.

Q: Given the likelihood that you would be working with a Legislature with either Republican or split control, how will you implement your agenda?

A: I would work with a Republican or split-control Legislature with the same relationship-building and issue-based approach that I used as a mayor and 12-year city council member in Iowa City. Even though it was a nonpartisan office, everyone knew who belonged to which political party, yet government still had to work. Police and fire services needed to be in place. Trash and recycling needed to be picked up. Streets and parks needed to be maintained. I would start with areas that we have in common to begin the working relationship.

Q: How will you begin to address privatized management of Medicaid and issues related to cost, access, quality of care and reimbursement? Given the program’s increased cost, can Iowa afford to return to a state-run Medicaid program?

A: We pay for health issues one way or another. We can pay proactively through a comprehensive system of prevention, screening, treatment and education, or we can pay more with preventable deaths and untapped human potential. Race, gender and gender identity, income and other factors shouldn’t dictate whether an Iowan or anyone can get quality health care. In our state and country, healthy people are essential to our successful future. As governor, I would reverse privatized Medicaid and change the relationship between medical and mental health providers and the governor’s office. We can incentivize keeping people well, and pay attention to cost savings.

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Q: What needs do you think are most important to Iowa’s economic future, and what steps would you take to meet those needs?

A: Strengthening rural and urban economies by investing directly in public infrastructure like broadband, bridge repair, or tax incentives for small to medium-sized business in rural and smaller communities. Providing adequate support for our public university system. ... I would direct state agencies to review corporate tax breaks every two years so companies seeking them demonstrate the return on investment by the state. ... Promote Iowa products across the country and around the world, including those that ensure a healthy diversification of crops and livestock, a strong future for family farms, enhancement of sustainable organic farming and continued growth of local food systems.

Q: How would you ensure that Iowa’s students get a first-class education, and if this involves increases in funding how would you pay for it?

A: I would repeal the new corporate tax breaks and ensure dependable state funding for public schools and fund education as our No. 1 priority. Let’s keep classes to sizes that promote rigorous learning and healthy relationship-building. Let’s focus on teaching and learning and decrease the focus on mandatory testing. Restore collective bargaining rights. Provide quality before and after-school programs at all schools across our state, as well as access within schools to physical and mental health services for our children.

NATE BOULTON

Note: Since this article was originally published, Nate Boulton suspended his campaign for Governor, following allegations of sexual misconduct.

 
  • Residence: Des Moines
  • Age: 38
  • Family: wife Andrea
  • Professional and political experience: state senator, labor lawyer
  • Website: boultonforiowa.com

Q: What would be your No. 1 priority as governor, and what steps would you take to achieve it?

A: I will work to increase the quality of life for working Iowans in every county by investing in public education, incentivizing local economic development, expanding workplace rights and improving the quality of and access to affordable health care. The first step to making that happen is addressing the hundreds of millions of dollars that Republicans hand out to wealthy corporations in the form of tax credits and exemptions. By prioritizing those dollars, we can pass positive legislation to ensure Iowa is a place that we are proud to call home.

Q: Given the likelihood that you would be working with a Legislature with either Republican or split control, how will you implement your agenda?

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A: I’ve spent the last few years building relationships with Republican legislators in the House and Senate. In one of the most hyperpartisan legislative sessions ever, I worked with Republicans to pass multiple amendments when very few Democratic ideas were even given a chance. I’ve already proved that I can work with legislators who don’t agree with me on everything, but where we find common ground, we can make a positive difference in Iowa.

Q: How will you begin to address privatized management of Medicaid and issues related to cost, access, quality of care and reimbursement? Given the program’s increased cost, can Iowa afford to return to a state-run Medicaid program?

A: We could afford a state-managed system before, and we can do it again, especially if we address the corporate tax credits, exemptions and giveaways that blow multimillion dollar holes in our budget. By returning to a system where Iowans are taking care of Iowans, we boost our own health care economy by keeping our dollars in our local communities. I’ve co-sponsored efforts to get the most severe medical needs cases back to state-managed care quickly and a bill that would have canceled the privatized Medicaid contracts and get a six-month transition set up to ensure Iowans get the Iowa-based care they need and deserve.

Q: What needs do you think are most important to Iowa’s economic future, and what steps would you take to meet those needs?

A: We need more Iowans, particularly our best and brightest, choosing to stay in Iowa and new Iowans coming to this state because of the quality of life we offer here. That comes from investment in small and mid-size communities through programs like Vision Iowa and main street grants, and basic infrastructure updates are essential to revitalizing rural Iowa and maintaining our ag economy; supporting our education system to apprenticeship programs, community colleges, and four-year colleges and universities to build the most skilled, educated and productive workforce in the world; (and) treating our workforce with the dignity and respect they deserve, by expanding workers’ rights.

Q: How would you ensure that Iowa’s students get a first-class education, and if this involves increases in funding how would you pay for it?

A: No state has ever succeeded by failing in the education of its children, and we must begin to prioritize public schools again. By eliminating, strategically targeting and capping the corporate tax credits and exemptions that waste more than $600 million of our budget, we can increase funding for public education to address inequalities across our state and ensure learning materials are up to date. We must also reinstate and expand collective bargaining rights so teachers can have a say in their wages, health care and class sizes and feel respected in their workplaces again.

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.