Our Plan - Cathy Glasson for Iowa

Our Bold Progressive Plan

This is our people-powered movement to radically change Iowa politics.
We want to give regular people a seat at the table in Des Moines again.
Here is our bold, progressive plan. 

Why I’m Running

“I believe the number one job of the Governor is to improve the standard of living for the people of Iowa. That’s why I’m running.

Our plan centers around three bold ideas:

  • Creating a universal health care system to cover every Iowan.
  • Raising the minimum wage to $15 so no Iowan who works full time has to live in poverty;
  • Making it easier to join a union no matter where you work;

Join our movement for these bold progressive policies so we can dramatically improve the lives of more than a million Iowans.”  —Cathy Glasson

Universal health care to cover every Iowan

I believe everyone has a fundamental right to high quality health care at every stage of their life. As an intensive care nurse, I’ve seen what happens on the front lines every day— insurance companies put profits first and patients dead last.

That’s why I support the Medicare for All legislation that’s been introduced in Congress. A nationwide plan to expand Medicare to all Americans makes the most sense.

But if the politicians in Washington, D.C. fail to act, Iowa must be ready to lead the way. 

Our movement will fight for a publicly-administered, single-payer, universal health care system right here in our state.

The key principles of our universal, single-payer health plan will be simple:

  • Every Iowan must be covered and nobody will be left out.
  • We’ll cut out the for-profit insurance companies and focus on lowering costs and improving care.
  • Our plan will include preventative care, mental health services, reproductive health care, drug addiction treatment, prescription drug coverage and expand access in rural communities.
  • As Governor, I will also end the disastrous Republican privatization of Iowa’s Medicaid program. Even though this scheme has been exposed as a failure, Kim Reynolds has doubled down on this policy that takes life-saving care away from Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens.

As a nurse and health care union leader, I’ve been fighting to reform our broken health care system for decades. Now, I’m running for Governor to make sure every single Iowan gets high quality health care whenever they need it, regardless of their income.

We believe the time for political excuses and half-measures is over.

Everybody in. Nobody left out. That’s what our movement is fighting for. 

Raising the wage to $15. Fast.

No Iowan who works full-time should have to live in poverty. But they can’t survive on a minimum wage of $7.25 that hasn’t budged since 2008.

I’ve met too many people who are working two and three jobs and still struggling to pay their bills. A half million underpaid workers need a raise— and they need it fast.

On my first day in office, I’ll push for a law to raise Iowa’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. The increase will kick in over three years and continue to rise with inflation after that.

Governor Kim Reynolds and I couldn’t be more different on this issue. She opposes even a modest increase in the minimum wage. And Reynolds supported rolling back local raises in Iowa’s largest counties—actually taking money out of low-wage workers’ paychecks.

Raising the minimum wage would be a big jumpstart for struggling local economies. Studies show that minimum wage workers who get a raise turn around and spend that money in the communities where they live. This boosts profits of local businesses and increases sales tax revenues for state and local governments. But that’s not all. If employers paid Iowans a $15 wage, tens of thousands of our citizens would no longer be dependent on public assistance.

I believe the number one job of the Governor is to raise the standard of living for Iowans. Underpaid workers can’t wait five or ten years for this to happen. That’s why our movement is making higher wages for Iowa’s underpaid workers our first priority.

The right to join a union no matter where you work 

As an ICU nurse, I risked my job to organize my co-workers and get a union at our hospital. As President of SEIU Local 199, I’ve dedicated the last 20 years of my life to bringing those rights to thousands more workers.

I’m running for Governor to make it easier for all Iowans to join a union or employee association no matter where they work. That’s the best way to raise wages, improve our working conditions and fix the rigged economy in our state. And workers all over Iowa have told us they want it at their job.

As Iowa’s next Governor, I will stand up to these corporate bullies and stop their assault on working people by:

  • Restoring Chapter 20 protections to bring back the union rights that were stripped away from 184,000 public sector workers.
  • Allowing Fair Share to strengthen public workers’ organizations.
  • Helping thousands more working people form a union by supporting the elimination of so-called “right-to-work laws” in Iowa.
  • Making sure workers can’t simply be fired “at will” on the whim of their bosses. A Just Cause law is one of the first basic steps Iowa could take to protect workers and their right to speak out and organize in their workplaces.
  • Developing innovative new policies to allow workers to join together in employee associations and support these organizations through voluntary payroll deductions. 
  • Requiring employers to let workers voluntary contribute to Nonprofit Worker Organizations (NWOs) and political organizations through payroll deduction.
  • Partnering with unions and Nonprofit Worker Organizations (NWOs) to combat wage theft in low-wage industries through employer-facilitated worksite-based training and enforcement.
  • Creating new state and local commissions responsible for monitoring or setting wage and labor standards in low-wage industries.

Republican politicians are afraid of more union members in Iowa. They don’t want to lose their power or have to answer to regular Iowans. They’re not willing to fix the economy they rigged— it works for their wealthy donors and big corporations, but not for us. We need a bold progressive Governor who will fight them tooth and nail.

Proudly pro-choice. Ready to fight for Planned Parenthood.

More than 14,000 Iowans lost access to critical health care services when former Governor Branstad and his successor Kim Reynolds cut off funding for Planned Parenthood and forced clinics to close.

As Governor, I will work to restore funding for Planned Parenthood so we can re-open shuttered clinics around the state and give women the health care they need when they need it and where they need it.

I will also fight to reverse the harsh new restrictions the Republicans have placed on abortion access, like mandatory 72 hour waiting periods.

I am 100% pro-choice. I believe this is a basic health care issue for women and their families. And just like other health care issues, the decision belongs only to women about what will happen with their bodies. Politicians and the government should stay out of making these decisions for women.

I believe all health care plans should be required to cover reproductive care for women and include birth control in their prescription coverage.

As an ICU nurse, I’ve seen the serious medical consequences when women don’t have access to reproductive health care on a regular basis. I’ll fight to make sure no Iowa woman is left without these critical services when I’m Governor.

Making Iowa #1 in public education again

Growing up in the 60s in the small town of Spencer, my dad was a truck driver and my mom worked at Sears. I got a good education in our town’s public schools, and our working-class family was able to afford my nursing degree from the University of Iowa. I’ve heard stories like that over and over again from baby boomers like me around Iowa.

But those days are gone for too many younger Iowans.

  • This Governor and Legislature cut $30 million from the budget for public universities, putting funding for colleges and universities more on the backs of students, leaving many students with tens of thousands of dollars in loans. Two-thirds of Iowa college students graduate with an average debt of almost $30,000.
  • Rural schools are disappearing. Local governments are spending about twice as much on K-12 as our state government to make up the difference. In addition, with our public schools already underfunded, Governor Reynolds wants to siphon off taxpayer money through vouchers for private and home schools.
  • Iowa teachers are underpaid and spend hundreds of dollars a year out-of-pocket on classroom supplies because we don’t provide them with the tools they need to do their job.

It’s no wonder many Iowans I’ve been talking to feel left behind by a rigged economy that hasn’t worked for them for decades. Now, they see their kids and grandkids no longer having a fair shot to get ahead through education.

We’re outlining a progressive vision to make Iowa #1 in public education again.

  • Our movement will fight for a 6% increase in state funding for K-12 public schools to invest in STEM education, relieve classroom overcrowding, upgrade technology and increase teacher pay. As Governor, I will veto any budget with less than a 4% increase. We know this is possible because it used to be the norm, but we’ve been falling behind for decades.
  • Teacher pay in our state is below the national average, and it needs to go up. Our goal shouldn’t be to be average—we need to excel. I will work to raise Iowa teacher pay significantly above the national average so we can attract and keep the best teachers here.
  • I will oppose any attempt to weaken our public schools with vouchers for private schools or home schools or by diverting tax dollars to charter schools.
  • I will rework our state’s funding plan so every student and teacher has the resources they need in the classroom, regardless of zip code.
  • I am committed to guaranteeing all Iowans an affordable option for higher education. As Governor, I will challenge our legislature to pass a plan for free community college within my first year in office and work to develop solutions to make four-year college debt-free for Iowa students.
  • I will work to freeze out-of-control tuition at Iowa’s public universities.
  • We need to work to help Iowa college students who are facing mountains of debt by creating options to refinance and restructure current student loans to give them a decent chance at building a life in our communities after college.

My generation had the opportunity to get ahead with a quality, affordable public education in Iowa. Our kids and college students deserve no less today.

We can make Iowa first in education again if we stand up and fight. Our bold, progressive movement is rising up for a better future for public schools, students and teachers in our state. 

Standing up to the NRA

Creating bold progressive change means having an honest conversation about tough topics. It requires leaders to stand up and be counted. It demands that we take sides in the fights that matter most.

I’ve signed a pledge to not take a penny from the NRA. I’m ready to address the plague of gun violence in this country head-on. As a frontline nurse, I’ve seen up close the deadly effect that gun violence has on our communities.

Thoughts and prayers are not enough. We must take concrete actions to address the root cause of this epidemic. Since Congress won’t do its job to stand up the NRA and protect our families and communities, Iowa needs to lead the way.

Gun violence is a public health crisis. We need to conduct real research to get to the root causes of this epidemic. We have great researchers, universities and health care facilities in our state.  We should study the public health impact of gun violence, so we can help develop the best solutions to prevent tragedies from occurring in the future.

There are other key steps we can take:

  • Pass universal background checks for all gun sales In Iowa
  • Limit access to high-powered assault rifles
  • Ban bump stocks
  • Create a 72-hour waiting period for gun sales
  • Raise the minimum age for all gun purchases to 21
  • Expand access to mental health services and re-open state mental health clinics

But that’s not all—our movement is standing united against Iowa’s new Stand Your Ground provision because it’s a danger to all of our communities. This reckless change to Iowa law has a devastating impact on people of color and especially threatens minority youth. Our bold progressive movement will work to repeal this disastrous legislation. As Iowa’s next Governor, I’ll work with local law enforcement to find better ways to keep our communities safe.

Clean water is the birthright of every Iowan

Iowa has some of the dirtiest water in the country. Runoff from large, industrial-scale farms is dumping a toxic mix of insecticide, manure and chemical fertilizers into our waterways and soil.

With over 750 polluted waterways in our state, we can’t afford to wait any longer. We’re endangering our environment for generations to come.

That’s why our movement is standing up to the factory farms and corporate polluters to demand that they clean up the mess they made.

For years, the Governor’s office and Republicans in the Legislature have been up for sale to corporate agriculture and big polluters. The Des Moines politicians have refused to address the deteriorating quality of our state’s rivers and streams. It’s time for a Governor who is committed to putting our planet, our soil and our water before corporate profits.

Ridding our water of these industrial farm byproducts has become a costly headache for local elected officials and taxpayers. And now the big polluters and the politicians who support them want us to pay a higher sales tax to clean up their mess.

We need a Governor who isn’t bought and paid for by the polluters. That’s why I’ve signed a pledge not to take a penny in campaign contributions from the oil, gas and coal industries. And I won’t take any money from the factory farms either.

It’s time to get serious about protecting our environment in Iowa. As Governor, I’ll force the corporate polluters who are fouling our water to clean it up. I’ll demand a moratorium on new or expanding factory farms until there are fewer than 100 polluted waterways in our state.

Join our bold progressive movement to make sure clean water is the birthright of every Iowan.

Expanding Iowa’s medical cannabis program and legalizing marijuana

I support expanding the medical cannabis program in Iowa to provide the full relief that thousands of Iowa patients and their families deserve from a wide range of debilitating conditions that can be addressed using cannabis products.

Iowa’s current medical cannabis law is too restrictive and limits access to too few people. Thousands of Iowans who are suffering and could gain relief from medical cannabis are being left out. If the Legislature passes a bill expanding the list of ailments that can be treated with medical marijuana to include additional conditions such as hepatitis C, glaucoma, rheumatoid arthritis, PTSD, Huntington’s disease, muscular dystrophy, Alzheimer’s disease, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or Tourette’s syndrome, I would sign it into law. I would also support legislation to allow the state’s expert Medical Cannabidiol Board to lift the 3% THC limit currently in place for medical cannabis products in Iowa and allow doctors, nurse practitioners and physicians assistants to approve medical cannabis for treatment of any health condition that they believe it would help alleviate.

There is promising clinical research showing that medical cannabis can be used instead of prescription opioids for pain management. Since opioid abuse and over-prescription can all too often lead to addiction and overdose deaths, Iowa should be looking for safe, non-addictive alternatives to help patients find new ways to alleviate pain. Medical cannabis is being successfully used to help wean people struggling with addiction off of opioids. If we want to get serious about attacking the opioid crisis in Iowa, increasing access to medical cannabis needs to be part of the solution.

We should take the next step and legalize marijuana
Making our medical cannabis program work for all Iowa patients who need relief is an important immediate step we can take, but we should go further. I believe it’s time for Iowa to legalize and decriminalize marijuana for personal use. Evidence from successful implementation in other states proves we can safely legalize marijuana. As Governor, I would sign a law to legalize marijuana that contains safeguards for our communities and licenses businesses to sell marijuana to Iowa adults over 21 for personal use.

By legalizing marijuana for personal use in Iowa, we can also begin to fix our broken criminal justice system. We can stop wasting police resources and the time of prosecutors and courts on enforcing the out-of-date prohibition on marijuana. Marijuana possession laws aren’t currently enforced fairly. People of color are disproportionately impacted by these laws and too many communities and families are hurt by mass incarceration for minor drug offenses.

Legalizing marijuana will make our criminal justice system better and fairer for more Iowans. If our state legalizes marijuana, I will direct my staff to conduct a thorough review of the sentences of people incarcerated for marijuana offenses in Iowa and consider commuting sentences in appropriate cases.

Legalizing marijuana for personal use by adults makes dollars and sense
Legalizing marijuana in Iowa also makes good fiscal sense. Smart legalization, regulation and taxation of the sale of marijuana could lead to tens of millions of dollars in new revenues for our state— new funds that can be used for critical priorities like restoring mental health services, improving drug addiction treatment, raising teacher pay and making college more affordable. It could also result in millions of taxpayer dollars saved when Iowa no longer prosecutes or jails people for non-violent marijuana offenses.

It’s time for Iowa to join twenty-nine other states in expanding our medical cannabis program and nine other states and the District of Columbia in moving to legalizing personal marijuana
use for adults. We can’t afford not to.

Strengthening & protecting Iowa’s LGBTQ+ community

I’m proud that Iowa was the fourth state in the nation to recognize marriage equality and that we have a strong LGBTQ community. We’ve made big strides over the years in preserving and advancing equality, but our bold progressive movement knows there is still work to be done.

In Iowa, we must ban conversion therapy. It is dangerous and widely discredited by major medical practitioners and organizations. It has no place in Iowa law. I will fight to stop it as Iowa’s next Governor.

We also need to strengthen anti-discrimination laws. No Iowan should be faced with discrimination when trying to find a job or housing just because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. And we need to work to guarantee the basic safety of LGBTQ Iowans. We must pursue the expansion of hate crimes legislation to include gender identity to protect our transgender community and also ban the trans/gay panic defense in cases of violent crimes.

Finally, we need to fight back against right wing extremists in Iowa and across the country who are attacking marriage equality laws. Our bold progressive movement will stand united against hate and against any effort to take away the basic human rights of every Iowan.

Expanding our voting rights in Iowa

We can only change Iowa if we listen to the voices of more Iowans. Every Iowan has the right to have their voice heard and to exercise their civil liberties. Our movement is committed to reducing the barriers to voting so no eligible Iowan is ignored.

First, we need to roll back Iowa’s disastrous new voter ID law. This right-wing law discriminates against the poor, the elderly, people with disabilities, people of color and college students. Then, we have to do much more.

Instead of making it harder to vote, we need to expand early voting — add more locations and extend the hours so working people have a chance to participate. We should make it easier to vote by mail, instead of reducing the window for absentee voting. We should consider automatic voter registration because all Iowans who are eligible to vote should be able to vote no matter what.

Iowa also needs to join the 47 other states where people with felony convictions who have served their time can get their voting rights restored. The people in power want to make it harder for every Iowa voice to be heard. Our bold progressive movement will push for changes to our voting laws to bring more Iowans into our democratic process and give more working people a seat at the table.

Restoring fairness to our criminal justice system

We can’t have a one-size-fits-all approach to sentencing and punishment, especially when our criminal justice system disproportionately impacts people of color and people in poverty. Mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug crimes or property crimes have been proven not to work as well in rehabilitating offenders, preventing crimes or reducing recidivism rates. I believe it’s time for Iowa to move in a different direction. We need to stop wasting money on locking up Iowa’s lowest level drug offenders and start looking at smart options that have been successfully implemented in other states to keep communities safe.

As Governor, I’ll support efforts to rehabilitate offenders through alternative community-based options. We need to invest in comprehensive mental health treatment, drug and alcohol addiction programs, GED programs, and employment and skills training. We need to work with communities all across our state to find the best options to restore fairness to our criminal justice system while saving taxpayers’ money..

As Governor, I’ll work to facilitate a real dialogue between law enforcement officials and the communities they are sworn to serve and protect. It’s time to stamp out racial profiling and the use of excessive force by police officers. These violations of power have no place in our justice system. Our movement will support implementing effective models of community policing to ensure the safety of all people throughout our state.

Making Iowa a welcoming state for immigrants and refugees

In Iowa, we must ensure all our neighbors feel safe and accepted no matter where they come from. That’s why we need to work together to establish every town and city in the state as a welcoming community. Our Governor and the state legislature should set the tone for the kind of state we strive to be— a state that stands together as one against discrimination and ensures that every member of our community can live a life of dignity.

There is much more we can do in Iowa to treat our immigrant population with respect and compassion, regardless of citizenship status or documentation. It’s time to elect a Governor who will stand up and protect all our communities, not target them. Iowa’s elected officials and public employees don’t work for ICE. Our police don’t work for ICE. It’s not the job of police in Iowa to enforce immigration rules. Their job is to keep our communities safe, to serve us and protect us—ALL of us.

Iowa helped create the modern refugee resettlement system. We have a long history of welcoming refugees. As an ICU nurse, I’ve seen the real challenges refugees and immigrants face navigating our health system. Having more and better translation services for our health care and human service providers can be key along with providing culturally sensitive and respectful care and services to these communities. We can also work to expand and improve the role of the Bureau of Refugee Services in state government and enhance the partnerships the Iowa Department of Human Services has with immigrant communities overall.

It’s time to get our undocumented community out of the shadows. Our bold progressive movement will fight for comprehensive immigration reform in Washington, DC that includes a clear path to citizenship. Together, we’ll make it easier for our immigrant and refugee neighbors to live and thrive in Iowa.

Taking action to solve our climate crisis

The rising threats of catastrophic climate change, environmental pollution, and ecological devastation are already causing real suffering for people everywhere— the impact is especially harsh on low-income families, communities of color, and our rural communities.

We’ve seen the suffering in our nation in recent years with hurricanes, forest fires and landslides. And no Iowan will soon forget the devastating impact that major floods and drought had on many of our communities.

It’s time to end the stranglehold once and for all that big agriculture and corporate polluters have on the Iowa Governor’s office. It’s time to hold big corporations accountable when they put profits before people’s health, foul our air and water and hold our economy back. We need to stop giving them tax credits and start making them pay to clean up their mess.

When it comes to protecting our air, land and water, we don’t need half-measures or empty promises: we need to take action now.


  • In three years, there have been over 200 devastating oil spills in the US. We must stop the building of new pipelines and halt the expansion of any existing pipelines in Iowa.
  • We must work to get to zero emissions as fast as possible and make it a real priority in our state government.
  • We must work with family farmers to level the playing field and hold industrial agriculture accountable to the same laws and regulations that family farmers adhere to — localized, resilient farming with limits on livestock production and a reduction in factory-style mega farms.
  • We need to invest in infrastructure, new public transit options and new forms of fuel replacement.
  • We should work to transition to clean energy by expanding solar power, wind, and other alternative energy sources.
  • Create new green jobs guaranteeing workers a $15 minimum wage, good benefits and union rights.

The climate crisis poses a clear and present danger to humanity and our natural world. It’s time to act.

That’s why I’ve signed a pledge not to take a penny in campaign contributions from the oil, gas and coal industries. And I won’t take any money from the factory farms either.

It’s up to each of us to ensure our kids and grandkids have clean air, land, and water.

As Governor, I’ll make sure Iowa leads the way in solving our climate crisis.

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