Jonathan Narcisse is challenging Gov. Chet Culver in the Democratic gubernatorial primary because he does not like the direction the state has taken during Culver’s term in office.

“He’s a good guy, but the record speaks for itself,” Narcisse said in an interview at the Herald office Wednesday morning.

During Culver’s term of office, many urban high schools and middle schools are failing, the size of government has grown recklessly and the population of the state has declined enough that Iowa likely will lose a congressional seat, Narcisse said.

Narcisse, 46, of Des Moines, said he would give Iowans different leadership than either Culver or Republican Terry Branstad, who he considers to have similar records in office. Narcisse announced his candidacy for governor this past Saturday. He is the first candidate to challenge an incumbent governor in a primary since 1994.

Narcisse talked about issues such as welfare reform, education, health care and the size of state government.

“I want to end the welfare state in Iowa,” Narcisse said.

Instead of merely giving welfare recipients a check or money card to swipe, Narcisse wants to enroll welfare recipients into a program that includes 20 hours of community service or public work and 20 hours of vocational education training a week to get people back into the work force.

He also wants to end corporate welfare and have a truly free market system. He wants to reform property taxes so people would not get penalized for improving buildings. He also wants to lower sales taxes and revamp the income tax. He would like to eliminate taxation on any overtime people work and allow people to invest up to 15 percent of individual income tax rebates in small businesses. This would help foster “community capitalism,” he said.

For education reform, Narcisse wants to eliminate bureaucracy, which would save between $1.25 billion and $1.75 billion.

He wants to create an education system that provides education for newborns through 3-year-olds; full-time education for 3- to 4-year-olds; and intensive academic instruction for 5- to 15-year-olds that takes an inter-disciplinary approach, has skill-based progression that is application-based. For 16- to 17-year-olds he want to have either a vocational education track or a college-prep track of education.

Narcisse wants to use the savings from bureaucracy to provide free college education for students with the stipulation that they perform community service during the summer and after graduation students would stay one year in Iowa for each year of free education they received.

For health care reform, Narcisse wants people to exercise and live healthy lifestyles to combat obesity, which costs Iowans billions of dollars in health care costs.

Narcisse wants to reform state government by naming bright people who are good managers into the cabinet and as department heads and people with specific expertise in divisions and bureaus to eliminate inefficiency.

Herald Editor Duane Nollen can be reached by email at


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