Bob Vander Plaats, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, stopped in Storm Lake yesterday to speak about the campaign and his vision for the state.
He is a former teacher and coach, as well as a principal at both Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn and Sheldon. He is CEO of Opportunities Unlimited, a non-profit organization in Sioux City that provides rehabilitation for young people who experience life-changing injuries.
Originally from Sheldon, he is married and has four children.
Vander Plaats said the race is about leadership this year. "We have to be savvy as Republicans on how to win back the governor's office in 2002," he said.
With two others seeking the Republican nod - State Senator Steve Sukup and former Terry Branstad chief of staff Doug Gross - Vander Plaats said his party must pick someone who will win in November.
"If you don't win, you don't govern and you don't lead," he said.
Vander Plaats said he cannot be attacked on economics, education, compassion - or his legislative record, since he doesn't have one to judge.
He said his opponents are good people and good friends, but noted that the Republican Party has a choice to make. "We need to be prepared with a candidate that can win," he said.
As governor, Vander Plaats said his priority would be on economic development. If the state created good paying jobs, that would convince more graduates not to leave, encourage senior citizens to stay, and welcome former Iowans back home.
He said Iowa's tax system must be overhauled.
"Why does Ted Waitt dream of Gateway computers in the state of Iowa, but build it in South Dakota," Vander Plaats said. "It's called tax structure."
Education is another priority area for him. While talk in Des Moines has been of giving teachers more money, Vander Plaats said that is not the solution.
"I'm here to tell you they'll take it if it's offered, but it's not true that's all they want," he said. "The number one cry from teachers is, 'Just let me teach.'"
He said education and classrooms have gotten bogged down in bureaucracy.
To help lead the state out of economic hardships, he said government must be run like an efficient business with an effective CEO.
"My hope is, Bob Vander Plaats gives you something to vote for and not something to vote against," he said.