Fairfield Ledger

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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 17, 2018

John Norris makes pitch for governor

By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Feb 05, 2018
John Norris

Candidate John Norris made a campaign stop in Fairfield last week in his bid to be the Democratic Party’s nominee for governor.

Norris was chief of staff under former Gov. Tom Vilsack, and was a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Vilsack appointed Norris to chair of the Iowa Utilities Board, and chief of staff at the United States Department of Agriculture.

Norris said his top priority as governor will be to “take back control of our government from the wealthy special interests and corporate lobbyists.” In terms of policy, that means reversing the privatization of Medicaid, which Norris said is having a negative impact on “so many vulnerable Iowans.” He said it’s also making it more difficult for rural hospitals to survive.

Public education is another of Norris’s priorities.

“We’ve got to recommit ourselves to public education, which is what we built this state upon,” he said. “We’ve neglected to keep our schools and education system at the highest level to compete in this modern economy and environment.”

Norris said the state must work toward diversifying agriculture and addressing water quality.



When asked what sets him apart from the many other candidates in the race, Norris said it’s his depth of experience on agriculture and energy policy.

“I was the United States’s representative at the United Nations for agricultural policy,” he said. “As chairman of the Iowa Utilities Board, I led Iowa to be a national leader in renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

Norris said his experience under Vilsack, putting together budgets and managing a staff, has given him the tools necessary to be a competent governor.

He has also owned a restaurant.

“We have got to rebuild economic opportunity in rural Iowa, and that is the primary focus of my campaign,” he said.

Norris accused Kim Reynolds’s administration of “grossly mismanaging” the budget, which he said has left the state in position where it can’t adequately fund education, mental health services and cleaning up the environment.

Water quality

Just last week, Reynolds signed into law a $282 million water quality bill. The bill establishes a water quality infrastructure fund within the state’s Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship for conservation projects such as wetlands and terraces.

Norris derided the bill as “electioneering window-dressing” that merely “kicked the can down the road.”

“There’s no monitoring or measuring in their legislation, so we won’t be able to monitor any progress,” he said. “It includes woefully inadequate funding to make a difference.”

Norris said Reynolds is looking out for special interests that “don’t want us to have hard data and to quantify the seriousness of the problem. If you deny it exists, you don’t have to take the necessary action to clean it up. It’s just like climate change. Deny climate change, and you don’t have to address it.”

Norris said he also disagreed with the Reynolds administration’s approach to economic growth. He said attempting to lure businesses to the state through tax cuts was “wrongheaded.”

“We have existing manufacturers all over the state whose chief problem is finding a workforce, and yet their handing out unlimited tax credits and deductions has undermined our ability to train a workforce to meet the needs of our existing businesses,” he said.











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