Democratic candidate for governor Fred Hubbell signs his support of the Des Moines Area Community College “Commit To Complete” pledge urging all students to earn the degrees and certificates they started. Watching Hubbell sign are DMACC student KT Jarvis and DMACC President Robert Denson.
Democratic candidate for governor Fred Hubbell signs his support of the Des Moines Area Community College “Commit To Complete” pledge urging all students to earn the degrees and certificates they started. Watching Hubbell sign are DMACC student KT Jarvis and DMACC President Robert Denson.

October 4, 2017

KT Jarvis explained her career goals in financial administration to Fred Hubbell.

Hubbell, a businessman and candidate for governor, quickly responded with a question for the Des Moines Area Community College Carroll campus sophomore: “What’s your favorite accounting class?”

Hubbell, a Democrat and member of one of Des Moines’ — and Iowa’s — founding families, which is involved in a raft of successful enterprises, says he’ll be the sort of governor who sweats the numbers, pencils the dollars and cents out — just like the accountants many DMACC students aspire to be.

“I want to make sure we get our incomes rising,” Hubbell told DMACC students on Tuesday.

Then he added, “You didn’t go to school not to make money, did you?”

Hubbell, one of seven Democrats seeking their party’s nomination for governor in the 2018 election cycle, spent more than eight hours in Carroll Tuesday.

He lunched with Carroll Area Development Corporation and Carroll Chamber of Commerce leaders, toured DMACC’s Carroll campus where he spoke with college president Robert Denson, local provost Joel Lundstrom and students. Hubbell spent more than an hour at Biokinemetrics discussing the intersection of health care and technology with that company’s founder, Dr. Steven Kraus. Hubbell capped the day with a Carroll County Democratic Party dinner at Jalisco Mexican Restaurant.

Throughout his time in Carroll, Hubbell’s message hewed to similar themes: a practical approach to government, one informed by his experience in the private sector. Hubbell, 66, 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.

“My whole point is to try to work with people to get things done,” Hubbell said.

Hubbell defines himself as a fiscally responsible social progressive. His campaign’s focus is on health care, job creation and education — the topics on which Hubbell says he receives the most questions and areas where he thinks Iowans of both parties and differing ideologies can arrive at meaningful consensus.

“There’s always some common ground,” Hubbell said. “We should look for that first.”

On the issues, Hubbell says Iowa should reverse privatization of Medicaid. Most Iowans, from patients to service providers, tell him the grand experiment has failed, Hubbell said.

Local business advocates gave Hubbell an earful on the reasons for four-laning of U.S. Highway 30 across the 12 counties and 331 miles it stretches in Iowa.

“I am going to pay a lot more attention to it than I was before,” Hubbell said at the Democratic Party dinner.

He wants to see job training made available in every high school in Iowa to transition people interested in trades into careers quickly. What’s more, Hubbell said student debt forgiveness and other incentives could be used to keep and attract people in rural Iowa.

“We need to invest in Iowans first,” Hubbell said.

Local Democratic activist and organizer John Cook asked Hubbell about the minimum wage.

Hubbell said he wants to see an increase, but did not have an exact figure in mind.

“Pretty quickly, we should get into double digits,” Hubbell said, alluding to support of a minimum wage of $10 or more.

Additionally, Hubbell said cities should have the flexibility to increase the wage floor as they see fit as what works in Des Moines may not go over in Carroll.

“Des Moines could probably absorb a higher minimum wage than Carroll,” Hubbell said at DMACC.

Less than 48 hours after the massacre in Las Vegas, students at DMACC and Democratic Party regulars asked Hubbell about his response, and whether any policy prescriptions were in order, from gun control to mental-health service upgrades.

“Where do we go with the gun issue?” Carroll attorney Barry Bruner asked Hubbell.

Hubbell said the tragic episode reinforces the need for better mental-health services in the nation.

“That’s something we can actually start making some progress on quickly,” Hubbell said.

He did add, “Guns are clearly part of the discussion.”

One of Hubbell’s big vision ideas: invest more in health care and long-term senior-living options to make Iowa, which already has a graying population, into an attractive state for retirees. He sees this as a compassionate business opportunity.

To fund priorities Hubbell says he will first look at the money state government already collects and use it more wisely.

Hubbell said one solution to current state budget woes would be to eliminate many state tax credits, something he delved into in his role as the state’s economic-development leader.

At Biokinemetrics, Hubbell said he sees potential for more telemedicine to improve service for Iowans and lower costs.

The company is involved in development and sales of digital X-ray machines for chiropractors, Kraus’s first profession. But Biokinemetrics has ambitions in emergent telemedicine.

“It’s not going to be called telehealth in 10 years,” Kraus said. “It’s just going to be called health care.”

Earlier, at DMACC, Amber Mahrt, an instructor, explained the school’s patient-simulation program in which nursing students learn in an environment structured to resemble real-life scenarios.

“These students are expected to make decisions, think on their feet,” Mahrt said.

Lundstrom said the nursing program is one the biggest draws for the Carroll campus.