Ross Wilburn: An Exceptional Candidate In A Crowded Field

Guest post from Matt Chapman

Caucus night in Dallas County was windy and the snow felt like being hit by a sandblaster. Almost six inches fell on Super Bowl Sunday the night before, but Democrats in Waukee still showed up for the caucus and we did our party business. The next day was a vote for a referendum on a new high school that had an amazing turn out as well. It passed by over 90%.

That Tuesday evening our neighborhood group – the South East Dallas County Democrats – had a social with Theresa Greenfield and Ross Wilburn.

It was a smaller group after the exhausting previous 36 hours took its toll on folks, but the conversation was worth braving the weather.

Theresa Greenfield is a warm and genuine candidate who has taken previous experiences that would be challenging to anyone and woven a wonderful life for herself and her family.

Her success in her career shows a work ethic and knack for business that is a very convincing trait from someone you would like to send to Washington. Her empathy speaks to who she would represent – the people of Iowa, not the wealthy and connected. I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have voted to take health care away from Iowans like our current representative in the third district.

Ross Wilburn is the most amazing gubernatorial candidate you haven’t heard much about. Whether a coin was flipped, or rock paper scissors was used I don’t know, but Greenfield went first and Wilburn second.

On a night of terrible weather, he stayed with six of us from 6:00 until 9:00, when he had to drive back to Ames from the west side of Des Moines.

He was just as earnest as Greenfield and had an impressive response to any question we would ask. He had six energized Democrats who wanted to express themselves as much as he did, and he was gracious in allowing us to ask questions and share opinions for just shy of two hours.

You can view his speech at the Democratic gala in this link. I recommend it.


Ross Wilburn spent twelve years on the Iowa City Council and served for a term as mayor. Of all the candidates he has the most governing experience. Wilburn was the equity director for the Iowa City school district and executive director of the crisis agency. He is currently the diversity officer and associate program director for community and economic development at Iowa State University’s Extension Service.

From the Quad City Times – “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.”

“I think that some votes are going to come my way because of that breadth of experience.”


As director at the crisis agency, he helped streamline communications between agencies that respond to crisis by removing barriers in place to impede the timely addressing of those issues. This policy is also cost-effective, saving tax dollars that would be lost due to bureaucracy. This experience and a balanced approach is sorely needed at the Capital.

As a public employee himself, Wilburn supports the teacher’s union in Iowa, and as equity director, he highlighted the connection between how a strong and supportive union was key for a quality education for students. He was against the chapter 20 legislation that weakened all the public unions in Iowa.

He is for reversing the privatization of the Medicaid Expansion and is an advocate for a Medicaid buy-in or single payer system for Iowa. As a diversity director, he recognizes that some of our most vulnerable Iowans who have disabilities are a diverse group as well.

Let’s not give in to fear and hate

He supports a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and acknowledges their contributions to our workforce in Iowa.

He has a proposal for a statewide Inclusive Iowa Task Force. The goal would be to promote diversity and inclusion in Iowa and would explore ways to enact that vision. He is uniquely qualified with his years of experience in this very field.

To quote Ross, “Let’s not give in to fear and hate.”

From the Quad City Times – “Aggressively use state resources to enforce state and federal anti-discrimination laws, including workplace issues, economic advancement, freedom of speech and the right to vote.”

Mental Health and the lack of resources for those who suffer with them is a policy that all Iowan’s can get behind fixing. The connection to the explosion of mentally challenged Iowans incarcerated due to the lack of resources to help them cope with their illness is a code red emergency that Wilburn is ready to address.

Increasing the number of mental health beds and providing incentives or loan forgiveness programs for students who commit to working in mental health in Iowa are key to his vision.

Reforming the criminal justice system is also a priority for Ross. Nonviolent offenders like those who are charged with drug abuse being warehoused at great expense to taxpayers is the wrong policy. They need the same treatment options as the mentally ill and a path to sobriety on the outside of prison walls.

“I stand for action rather than political pandering”

As a Des Moines Register Iowa View Contributor, Wilburn highlighted the differing visions he and Governor Reynolds have for Iowa’s future and the approach to achieve that goal for all Iowans, not just the politically connected.

“Let’s be Iowa”

If you spend time with Ross Wilburn, you will not be disappointed by the divisive or angry rhetoric that seems to be prevalent in politics today. That kind of politicking that is pitting Iowan’s against each other is not a quality you will find in a sincere public servant who works daily to promote an acceptance of diversity.

His slogan is built on the base of an old Iowa phrase that seems to be forgotten these days, Iowa nice.

As Ross says, “Let’s be Iowa.


by Matt Chapman
Posted 3/20/18

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