Democratic candidates for governor speak at Simpson, criticize Gov. Reynolds


Photo courtesy of Seth Andersen

by Randy Paulson, News Editor

The six Democratic candidates running for governor presented their vision for Iowa to an audience of about 200 people at a forum held on April 11 in Simpson College’s Pote Theatre.

The Simpson College Democrats organization co-hosted the event along with the John C. Culver Public Policy Center. Three members of Simpson Democrats—senior Will Seiler and sophomores Abby Shulte and Jake Stoulil—asked the candidates questions.

In their opening remarks, all six candidates made it clear they oppose the current governor’s approach to issues such as healthcare, education and immigration.

To make a college education more affordable for Iowans, John Norris, said a change in tax policy is needed.

Norris, who is a Simpson graduate and former chair of the Iowa Democratic Party and chief of staff for former Gov. Tom Vilsack, said tax cuts for the wealthy prevent the government from funding for K–12 and higher education.

“You first have to get our fiscal house in order and end these special tax cuts for the few, that benefit only the few, at the expense of our future,” said Norris.

As governor, he said he would refund K–12 public schools and level off tuition increases for Iowa’s public universities. He would also offer tuition tax credits to students to help them pay off their college loans.

Fred Hubbell said he has worked to expand education in Iowa as former chair of Simpson College’s board of trustees and also through his leadership on the Iowa College Foundation Board. “My top priority, every time I get in front of anyone other than my wife, is making sure that every Iowan has access to quality, lifelong learning,” he said.

To do so, he said Iowa needs to fully fund pre–K and K–12 education and make higher education affordable again.

He also said if corporate tax cut money instead went to education funding, “we could make a huge difference in our state, and we could start to slow down those tuition increases.”

Andy McGuire spoke to the teachers in the audience, saying, “We need to give you the respect you deserve and the resources you need to make sure you can teach our kids.”

McGuire and Cathy Glasson drew on their experience working in the medical field as a doctor and nurse respectively to explain why they were the best fit to address Iowa’s healthcare system.

Both opposed Iowa’s privatization of Medicaid, with Glasson saying, “It’s been a disaster for Iowans and the folks that deserve a better healthcare system.”

She said as governor, she would reverse privatization and support universal healthcare for all Iowans.

When the topic turned to immigration and Gov. Reynolds’ recent passage of a bill critics say would allow racial profiling, Ross Wilburn cited his experience as city councilman and mayor of Iowa City to combat xenophobia and racial profiling in his city.

“It’s not only being welcoming in terms of preventing any type of unwanted behavior,” Wilburn said, “but it’s creating opportunities and that sense of belonging that’s consistent with the Iowa we know and love. Let’s be Iowa.”

Nate Boulton, a former Simpson adjunct professor, board of trustees member and current state senator, also criticized Gov. Reynolds for failing to create jobs and increase wages and also for threatening the future of education in Iowa.

Boulton also addressed the need to revitalize rural Iowa by incentivizing young Iowans to stay in those communities.

He said instead of giving $20 million in corporate tax cuts to Apple, Gov. Reynolds could have used that money to rebuild local infrastructure in 260 Iowa communities. “We shouldn’t wait for tornadoes or floods to restore the opportunities of rural Iowa,” he said.

In their closing remarks, each candidate summed up their experiences and policy stances to encourage the audience members to support them in the Democratic primary on June 5.

The Simpson College Democrats livestreamed the event on their Facebook page: