Hubbell boasts state-wide experience9/6/2017
Democratic candidate for governor seeks a return home in 2018 bid
Fred Hubbell, a scion of a foundational Iowa family, says he wants to see rural Iowa flourish as much as its capital city.
Hubbell, if elected governor in 2018, says he would return to Terrace Hill, a home his family donated to the state in 1971, with a central mission: Boosting employment and business opportunities in all of Iowa, extending growth outside of the cities, with business-education partnerships aimed at filling modern jobs.
Hubbell, 66, a Democrat, has served as president of Younkers and Equitable of Iowa. He also chaired the Iowa Power Fund, and served for a time as interim director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development.
“I’ve got a lot of actual hardworking business experience in all parts of the state,” Hubbell said.
In an interview with this newspaper in his offices in Des Moines, Hubbell said there is no getting away from the fact that most new jobs in the United States are created in a handful of cities.
“We have some of that same thing going on in Iowa — Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Ames, Des Moines,” Hubbell said. “But that doesn’t mean it has to be that way.”
Hubbell said economic-development leaders, as well as city council members and county supervisors, have some terrific plans for growth in rural Iowa.
“When they have good ideas like that, I think that’s where the state should be putting its economic-development money, in all these small places around the state,” Hubbell said.
Hubbell says when companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft want to connect with Iowa for data centers and other structures on key tracts of land, and locate here because of the attraction of renewable-energy portfolios, they should provide more jobs to Iowans.
“They should have been giving us 50 or 100 jobs each around our state, where people work online where they live,” Hubbell said.
On the jobs front, Hubbell said Iowa needs to prepare more people for careers that are in high demand like plumbing and mechanics. Not all of those demand a four-year college degree, Hubbell said.
People in those positions can make $60,000 a year or more with no college debt, he said.
“Those are good quality jobs that provide wonderful living wages, provide great benefits, and you can go home and sleep at night, and you don’t have to worry about the stress of your job, and you’re sitting on your phone or you’re sitting on your Internet at night for your job,” Hubbell said.
Hubbell said those jobs are available around Iowa, not just in concentrated urban corridors.
On transportation, the newspaper asked Hubbell if he preferred to invest in rural highway projects, or the development of more lanes on interstates that connect urban areas.
“I’m not a fan of putting roads out there just to have roads,” Hubbell said.
So what does he think about getting the family keys back to the governor’s mansion, Terrace Hill?
“I don’t think the voters are going to give me the keys back — they might rent the keys back,” Hubbell said. “I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. We still have to go through a primary and a general election first. But it’s an interesting story, and it’s a beautiful home.” ♦
Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa newspaperman. He and his family own and publish newspapers in Carroll, Jefferson and other neighboring communities.
Sunday silence: Hubbell doesn’t want to talk faith
Businessman-turned-politician Fred Hubbell’s biography is generations deep in Iowa. In fact, it tracks with the history of our state itself. His family, beginning in the mid-1800s, built much of the foundation of the Des Moines — and indeed Iowa — economy.
On Hubbell’s campaign website, one scrolls quickly to see a photo of his attractive family, smiles widening through the still frame, the picture of comfort and ease. There are two babies and even a little dog.
We learn that Hubbell, a Democratic candidate for governor from Des Moines, met his wife, Charlotte, in law school at the University of Iowa. The couple have three children and the same number of grandkids.
There are some details on his career at Younkers and Equitable of Iowa — and a resume of philanthropic and public-minded pursuits as impressive in scope as any living Iowan.
He’s lived a full life at age 66, and his campaign biography reflects it. As it should. It ain’t bragging if you can back it up, as they say in Texas.
But Hubbell’s bio-heavy web presence fails to mention his church or make any reference to faith. OK. Some politicians include a brief note on their religion, others skip it, and some elaborate as if the Holy Spirit were riding shotgun on their fingers as they keyboarded affirmation and testimony to Jesus Christ.
So why is there is no reference to church or faith from Hubbell?
Is Hubbell not a religious man, or does he just not believe it is appropriate to discuss faith in the public square? Or is the absence explained simply as an oversight?
“I largely think that faith is a personal issue,” Hubbell said in an interview with this newspaper. “I grew up in an Episcopal church. We raised our kids in a Congregational church, over here at Plymouth Congregational Church. We still go sometimes. I wouldn’t say we’re frequent church-goers. But we do go sometimes.”
So does Hubbell describe himself as a Christian?
“I would say that I have faith,” Hubbell said.
But would he go so far as to say he’s Christian?
“I think people are allowed to have their own faith, whether that’s Christian or Buddhist or Jewish or Catholic or Muslim or whatever,” Hubbell said. “I think people deserve to have their own faith, whatever that is. And I think our country and our state should recognize and encourage all those faiths.”
Should voters be able to ask Hubbell to elaborate on his faith?
“Well, I’ve already told you where we go to church,” he said.
Hubbell attends a Christian church, but why is he hesitant to define himself as a Christian?
“I’m happy to say that I’m a Christian, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not sympathetic and supportive of other religions,” Hubbell said. “That’s my point.”
So Hubbell is Christian?
“I go to a Christian church,” he said.
Fair enough. But why is it so important to Hubbell to make a distinction between acknowledging attendance in a Christian church and defining himself as a Christian?
“Because I fundamentally think that religion is a personal issue,” Hubbell said. “Whether I’m Christian or not I don’t think is the most important issue for somebody running for any office in our country. There is separation of church and state, which I support.” ♦