Narcisse steps into the ring for governor
Jonathan Narcisse had a 17-0 record as a semi-pro boxer in the D.C. area. You get the idea that if he were on an equal footing with the other Iowa candidates for Iowa governor – money, campaign organization – and the gloves were off, Narcisse could do pretty well for himself.
Maybe even have a K.O. or two.
Narcisse, who is running in the Iowa Party for governor, this fall faces incumbent Republican Terry Branstad; Democrat Jack Hatch, state senator; and Libertarian Lee Hieb, orthopedic surgeon.
Narcisse co-chaired the Polk County Democratic Party from 1984-86, chairing a record voter registration and turnout effort that sent Iowa from a Republican to a Democratic state. He also worked in Washington with the House D.C. committee headed by Congressman Walter Fauntroy. He has owned or published 29 periodicals, including all the major suburban papers in Polk county. He’s currently editor-in-chief of Iowa Bystander and publisher of El Comunicador – Iowa’s first statewide Latino paper and Iowa Fronteras – Iowa’s first statewide Spanish language paper.
In his recent whirlwind 22-county trip in three days, Narcisse stressed that he’s reaching out to all Iowans and not those inside the I-235 Beltway.
“Especially the Democrats don’t realize that Iowa doesn’t end at I-235,” said Narcisse, saying people elsewhere need to be represented and have a voice.
While recognizing Gov. Branstad’s political capital – “There’s no question that Governor Branstad has been a very effective politician” – Narcisse questioned whether he should serve an unprecedented sixth term – “Has he earned a sixth term? I think not.”
Narcisse said Iowa lost two congressional seats during the Branstad era and poverty has racked both rural and urban Iowa. He also pointed to a demise in Iowa’s role as an educational leader.
“Our kids are simply not prepared to compete in the 21st century,” Narcisse said.
He said Branstad has failed to understand that people appointed to public office should be qualified and that urban Iowa is overrepresented in state government “especially when you throw in Linn County.”
“We can return this state to our people,” Narcisse said.
So why is he running?
“I’m just really impressed with my fellow Iowans,” said Narcisse. Impressed by their dedication to work, ethics and each other.
He recalls a woman who sewed up his jacket when he was on the road and refused payment. That was just the Iowa sort of thing to do – people trusting teach other.
“Sometimes that trust is taken advantage of,” said Narcisse. But it’s that trust that can help rebuild the state, he said.
“We have a good foundation in this state. We can fix Iowa and we can restore the greatness of Iowa if we have the right leadership,” said Narcisse.
Narcisse said a governor should surround himself with the right people “and make sure they put Iowa first.”
Calling No Child Left Behind “devastating”, Narcisse said the US Department of Education has been a political football ever since its creation by the Carter administration.
Narcisse said the Iowa Party wants people to be made aware of conflicted interests in the state – “So we’re going to expose some truths.”
He said creating the party will also help people have a mechanism to address issues that aren’t being addressed currently. He said the party also has the potential to become a second party at the local level, pointing to places in Iowa where candidates run unopposed. “We have the ability to tap into those people who are frustrated,” Narcisse said.
As for education at the state level, said Narcisse, “We spent three-quarters of a billion dollars every year funding students who don’t exist.”
And with more than 40 cents of every state dollar going for health and human services, Narcisse calls for welfare reform so people have self-determination.
He decries no requirement for an ID for food stamps, saying people sell them to buy drugs. If an ID were required, he said, “Kids would get more food in their belly. That’s not conservative or liberal. That’s what makes the most sense.”
Narcisse also wants to prevent profiteering from poverty in Iowa.
He said he hasn’t seen any discussion between Republicans and Democrats on how to make people healthier. “That ought to be a goal,” he said.
Narcisse calls for upgrading the state parks and road system – without an added gas tax – by making use of prison labor and giving the incarcerated skill sets they could use to reenter society.
To reduce prison overcrowding – at a cost to the state of $32,000 a person a year – Narcisse proposes moving drug possession from the criminal to civil docket.
Legalizing marijuana would also raise state revenue through grower permits. A devout Baptist, Narcisse doesn’t smoke or drink himself but believes that decriminalizing marijuana would address the addiction crisis and raise money to build the state infrastructure without raising taxes. “Every single city in Iowa would benefit from this,” he said.
Narcisse also calls for ending massive welfare programs for people with advanced degrees in education, pointing to layers of bureaucracy in school districts.
He also would like to revitalize Iowa’s farmers markets, pointing out that 90 percent of the food Iowans consume is grown outside the state. Reducing the food-trade deficit by 25 percent would dwarf the ethanol industry, he said.
Pointing to broad support from the political spectrum, Narcisse embraces Iowa people and Iowa values.
“There’s quality here. There’s value in Iowa.”
Narcisse expects the Iowa Party to get enough votes Nov. 4 to make it a new party in Iowa.