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Dem hopeful takes aim at poverty

BY LILY ABROMEIT | FEBRUARY 13, 2014 5:00 AM

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Another gubernatorial
candidate stopped by
the University of Iowa’s
campus Wednesday nine
months prior to the election.

Jonathan Narcisse,
who is seeking the Democratic
Party’s nomination
for governor, said he “will
not stand by any longer”
but will redirect the state
back to the most important
basics — “unity, dignity,
and work.”

“At this moment in
time, what we need is a
governor … who will give
back to Iowans,” he said.

He said he is most focused
on holding the
government responsible,
creating an engagement
in the war on poverty, and
enticing the younger generation
to remain in Iowa
after graduation.

Narcisse said in order
to change Iowa for the
better, more students
need to remain in the
state after graduation,
which would be possible
with his incentive plan.

In this proposal, for every
year the state pays
for their tuition, students
must work in the state after
they graduate, while
giving an additional 40
hours of community service
during the summers
they are in school.

Tom Hoefling, who is
running for the Republican
nomination, said
that although he is disappointed
that “Iowa’s
export has been Iowa’s
youth,” he does not think
Narcisse’s plan would be
the most effective.

“We want to get government
out of education,”
he said. “It’s government
involvement and government
money that’s inflating
the cost of education.”

A statement from Gov.
Terry Branstad and Lt.
Gov. Kim Reynolds’ campaign
said the current
administration has been
working on creating opportunities
for students.

“The bipartisan Skilled
Iowa initiative, started
by the governor and lieutenant
governor, has been
giving people the skills
they need for the jobs of
the 21st century, especially
in science, technology,
engineering, and math,
making Iowans more
competitive in today’s
economy,” the statement
said.

Tim Hagle, a University
of Iowa associate
professor of political
science, said the focus
should be on creating
jobs for students.

“The idea of what we
call ‘brain drain’ in Iowa
has been a problem for a
long time,” he said. “The
problem isn’t so much
they don’t want to stay
in Iowa, but there aren’t
jobs available.”

Another problem in
the state, Narcisse said,
is the lack of strength
among the Democratic
members in power.

“When you can’t tell
the difference between
Republicans and Democrats,
you don’t want
to be a part of either
… so I’m going to fight
to take my party back
from the hijackers,” he
said. “This is where this
race becomes more than
beating Gov. Branstad
… it also becomes about
[saving] the soul of the
Democratic Party.”

He said the main reason
he perceives failure
in the party is because
party officials are out of
touch with the people in
Iowa who need government
support the most
— the ones struggling
in poverty.

“We live in a world
where men have the
wealth of nations and
a state where men have
profound wealth, yet
we have children going
to bed hungry,” he said.
“Ending poverty has not
been a priority.”

Narcisse said he
would propose to do
this by creating a public-
works program, as
well as moving the possession
of illegal drugs
to a civil charge rather
than a criminal charge.

“With the money we
save, we can begin the
process of putting Iowans
to work,” he said.

With a public-works
program, people could
earn wages by doing
things to help the community,
such as rebuilding
infrastructure. Additionally,
he said, this
will keep the money in
the state.

Bobby Young, a pastor
at a Missionary
Baptist Church in Des
Moines who has worked
with Narcisse for many
years, said this is one
idea Narcisse could be
successful in, because
he can relate to the people.

“If he keeps his promise,
I believe Iowa will
be changed for the better,
and we can set the
tone for the rest of the
nation,” he said.


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