DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Ross Wilburn, an educator, administrator and former mayor of Iowa City, announced August 14 that he will seek the 2018 Democratic nomination for Iowa governor to return the state to best-in-the nation status in health, education and opportunity.
“Throughout my life, I have been fortunate to live in Iowa and serve the people of Iowa,” Wilburn said. “Now I want to help us become the state we know we can be, with opportunities to succeed economically, for better health and education and to lead the nation in quality of life. Our message is simple: Let’s Be Iowa.”
Wilburn said his approach to governing would mirror the one he took as mayor and a three-term city councilor in Iowa City as well as in the community work he has done throughout his professional life.
“Iowans know each other. We work as friends and neighbors to solve our problems, seize opportunities and move ahead,” Wilburn said. “When I was mayor, we couldn’t spend our time fighting and defining ourselves by what divided us. We had to come together to get the work done for our friends and neighbors. That’s the kind of governor I will be, reaching out across our state to make Iowa stronger by harnessing all our strengths—and by bringing back the community pride that has always defined Iowa.”
Wilburn outlined an agenda of priorities including health, economy, bridging the gaps that threaten to divide the state, and getting work done in office, no matter what the issue is.
“It’s time Iowans had government and a governor working for them the same way they work,” Wilburn said. “No fighting. No divisions. Just roll up our sleeves and get it done together. My model is local government as well as the individuals, companies and organizations I have had the pleasure of working with my whole life.”
He added: “Iowans expect the best. We are a state blessed with amazing resources and people who can accomplish so much with leadership that unites instead of divides. We have done it before. We can do it again. Let’s make that commitment. Let’s Be Iowa.”
Wilburn, 52, grew up in Davenport. He was Iowa City’s first African-American mayor and also served 12 years on the City Council. He worked for six years as director of equity for the Iowa City Community School District, eight years as executive director of the Crisis Center of Johnson County and nine years as program coordinator for United Action for Youth in Johnson County. He also was an instructor at the University of Iowa.
He now lives in Ames and has worked since 2014 as the diversity officer and associate program director of Community and Economic Development for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. He is a veteran of the Iowa Army National Guard and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from the University of Iowa.