Ross Wilburn was one of the last of the Democrats running for governor to jump into the race. But the former mayor of Iowa City said Tuesday that he has a broad base of experience that separates him from the rest of the field.
Wilburn, who was the mayor of Iowa City from 2006 to 2007 and served on the city council there for 12 years, was in the Quad-Cities on Tuesday for a fundraiser. And in an interview with the Quad-City Times, he said his experience in local government, service in the Iowa Army National Guard and previous positions in the Iowa City School District and the Crisis Center of Johnson County give him a perspective he believes people are noticing.
"I think that some votes are going to come my way because of that breadth of experience," he said.
Wilburn was the equity director for the Iowa City school district and executive director of the crisis agency. He currently is diversity officer and associate program director for community and economic development at Iowa State University's extension service.
Wilburn, one of seven Democrats seeking the party's nomination, announced his candidacy in August, touting a message of unity.
He says he would focus on improving health care, education and the economy, along with reforming the criminal justice system.
He is proposing that a broader number of Iowans be allowed to buy into the Medicaid program, and that the move to private management of the program be reversed.
Wilburn added that, as governor, he also would push for the federal government to create a path to citizenship for people in the country illegally.
"Let's not give in to fear and hate," he said.
Wilburn, a 1982 graduate of Davenport Central High School, spent his junior high school and high school years here.
He acknowledged fundraising challenges, which has already led to a handful of other Democrats to drop out of the race. But he added that as he's able to meet with people and explain his background, he finds them supportive.
In addition to Wilburn, also in the running are state Sen. Nate Boulton, D-Des Moines; former Democratic Party Chair Andy McGuire; Des Moines businessman Fred Hubbell; John Norris, a former aide to Tom Vilsack and Tom Harkin; Iowa City union leader Cathy Glasson and Jon Neiderbach, a former Des Moines school board member.