Paul Dahl of Webster City on Saturday launched his campaign for governor with stops at libraries across Iowa.
The Democrat spoke in Sioux City, Council Bluffs, Mason City, Ames, Des Moines and Cedar Falls. He is scheduled to speak today at libraries in La Porte City, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Burlington, Dubuque and Davenport.
Dahl will compete in the Democratic primary with Jack Hatch, Tyler Olson and Bob Krause.
He said he has the “right stuff” to be governor.
“If you look at my background, I have the character, I have the competence, I have the compassion and I have the courage,” he said.
Dahl worked as a librarian for 15 years and currently drives a transit bus for Hamilton County.
His priorities for Iowa are agricultural revitalization, renewable energy, tax reform, increased investment in education, development of mass transit infrastructure, improved options for health and long-term care insurance and criminal justice reform.
Dahl believes the state should do more to help young farmers get started.
“We need to have more farms and smaller farms,” he said. Retiring farmers should sell their land in pieces to make farmland affordable for young people who want to farm, he said.
Dahl said the state should adopt more “biotic-friendly” practices.
“We need to have less usage of chemicals in farming,” he said. “We need to reduce the pesticides and the herbicides. I have nothing against fertilizer. You could have people out there trying to capture these insect pests. People are inventive — they could come up with something.”
Chemical use also needs to be reduced in Iowa's cities, Dahl said.
“We have too many chemicals on our lawns,” he said. “Who cares if you have dandelions in your lawn?”
He also believes Iowa should produce more diverse crops.
Dahl said Iowa should work to produce 40 percent of its electrical energy with renewable sources by 2020. The state in 2012 got 24 percent of its energy from wind and a small percentage from hydroelectric power.
“I think you need to have a government-business partnership on that,” he said.
On a tax system overhaul, he said that if corporate income taxes are abolished, the state should raise its minimum wage and end individual tax breaks for businesses.
“I don't like the fact states are sometimes pitted against each other to get companies,” he said.
He favors increasing funding for education, from preschool up to higher education.
Dahl said the health insurance benefits enjoyed by members of Congress should be made available to all Americans. And Iowa, with its aging population, has a special need, he said.
“Iowa needs to deal with long-term care insurance,” he said. “I, as governor, would have the Legislature do something with long-term care insurance, because that's the other piece that needs to be dealt with.”
Dahl said felons should have the right to vote.
“That's one right that should never be taken away,” he said. “And if it's taken away, when they come out (of prison), they should get it back — or they should not have to pay taxes.”
Gov. Terry Branstad in 2011 issued an executive order rescinding a law that allowed felons to automatically regain their right to vote upon completion of their sentences. That measure had been instituted by then-Gov. Tom Vilsack with an executive order. Now felons must not only complete their sentences but also pay all monetary obligations to the court before they are eligible to apply for restoration of their voting rights.
Dahl ran for Congress from Iowa's former 5th District in 1994 but lost in the Democratic primary to Sheila McGuire.
“I am the only candidate that has both state government and county government experience,” he said. Dahl has worked for the Minnesota Department of Health's Barr Library.
However, he is the only Democratic candidate currently in the race who lacks legislative experience. Hatch and Olson are in the Legislature, and Krause is a former lawmaker.