CEDAR RAPIDS — If running for office was easy, Fred Hubbell says, “I might have done it a long time ago.”

Now retired from leading Younkers retail stores and later the Equitable of Iowa life insurance company, as well as stints chairing the Iowa Power Fund and as interim director of the state economic development department, Hubbell, 66, is running for office for the first time.

He’s not running because being governor was on his bucket list.

“I’m not interested in the title,” he said while in Cedar Rapids earlier this week. “I’m not interested in moving back into Terrace Hill,” the governor’s residence that the fifth generation Iowan’s family gave to the state in 1971. “I’m interested in making Iowa a better place. I’m just a vehicle to make the state a better place.”

Hubbell, one of seven Democrats running for the party’s 2018 gubernatorial nomination, believes state government is suffering from a lack of leadership on priorities such as education, health care and mental health. There’s also a lack of moral leadership, he said about the various lawsuits GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds and her predecessor, Terry Branstad, have been involved in and “all the sexual harassment claims that are being ignored.”

His lack of experience as an elected office is less important than the experience he gained leading business organizations and activities in the nonprofit sector, Hubbell said.

Ultimately, voters are looking for “somebody who knows how to get things done and puts people first and will invest in people to grow our state,” he said.

In those roles, he said he’s learned the value and importance of listening to people talk about what is working in their communities, what could work better and if there are ways the state can help.

Hubbell differentiates himself from others in the Democratic primary in June, pointing out that it’s rare to find businessmen running for office “that have as long of a progressive track record as my wife (Charlotte) and I do.”

“We’re a little different than most progressives or most business people,” he said. “My campaign is a strong combination of both and I think that’s amplified by not having been a politician.”

In addition to Hubbell, the other Democrats running for governor are Ross Wilburn, Andy McGuire, Jon Neiderbach, John Norris, Sen. Nate Boulton and Cathy Glasson.

Comments: 319-398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com.

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