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Guest Commentary

Iowa governor: a job description


Charles Ruhl is a member of one of Iowa ‘s multi-generational aristocracies. His habitual crimes added up to stealing $1.3 million of his partners’ money. A federal judge in Scott County agonized over his “harsh” one year sentence in order to teach him a lesson. He walked out of the court house in January and has yet to be incarcerated. Meanwhile, a young woman sits in Mitchellville prison. She too is considered habitual. The crime that earned her a five year prison sentence — writing a bad check to Wal-Mart for baby formula and diapers.

When I announced my candidacy for governor Jan. 20, it was based on a political calculation — I expect to beat Jack Hatch. Weeks into the primary campaign, however, I realize something much more important is at stake. The 2014 gubernatorial campaign is a battle for the soul of Iowa.

Gov. Branstad has not protected Iowans. His administration is a model of cronyism and misplaced priorities. Yet, his appointments, policies and practices have all been sanctioned and financed by “the loyal opposition.” It is impossible to criticize Branstad without criticizing his silent partners — Senate Democrats.

Both parties have betrayed Iowans, especially when it comes to inequitable justice. And, now key Democrats are calling for a crippling gas tax hike on single moms, the elderly and working Iowans… all while voting Branstad and his benefactors a MASSIVE tax cut.

Education is another area of bi-partisan betrayal. No Child Left Behind has wounded our communities, schools, educators and students. Iowa should have opted out. Instead both parties’ leaders have embraced this public policy travesty, and now are welcoming the Common Core, which is also egregious.

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My campaign has laid out a vision for investing in early childhood education, increasing vocational and technical education, and providing affordable post-secondary education as part of a strategy to keep young Iowans in Iowa.

I have called for clear measures to restore integrity to state and local governance. These measures begin by protecting public pensions from statehouse politicians who raided various funds such as the Senior Living Trust and Tobacco Trust.

As a Des Moines School Board Director, I exposed various corruptions of the Nancy Sebring administration. These included contractor billings for time that didn’t exist, bottled water and cell phones accounts. Yet nothing was done about it.

As governor I will order forensic audits of state and local government. These will create transparency regarding tax dollar expenditures and set a strong example of how to govern moving forward.

Taxes are not revenue. They are compelled. Government officials ought to, therefore, ensure that taxpayers receive a dollars’ worth of honest governance for every tax dollar spent.

The governor’s job is not to be a lobbyist for special interests or to have all the answers. The governor’s job is to appoint public servants who possess the moral and ethical compass to put the interests of Iowans above political agendas. This means appointing men and women, smarter than he, with demonstrated competence in the areas they are assigned. Then to hold them accountable to outcomes linked to documented goals, objectives and expectations.

Iowans are honest, hardworking people. They are very trusting. The leadership of our state has exploited that goodness, often in service to the patrons of their political ambitions. In other instances career politicians have become millionaires at the public’s expense.

This is where the battle for the soul of Iowa lives.

Who will protect instead of profiteer?

Who will serve as Chief Accountability Officer for Iowa?

Branstad and Hatch have resided at the Statehouse since the early 1980s. Both have proven they will do what is right when it is easy. Both have proven they will do what is personally profitable and forgo protecting the public, when it is easy, as well.

Iowa needs an HONEST governor. A governor who doesn’t owe anyone. A governor who is free to do what is right. Each time. Every time. CV

Jon Narcisse is a Democratic candidate for the governor’s race in Iowa, and he submits occasional columns for Cityview. Contact him at

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