Vander Plaats Officially Announces for Governor, Pledges to Pay Down Debt, Improve Business Climate, Press for Vote on Marriage Issue

SHELDON, Iowa – Speaking before a crowd in the town where he grew up, Sioux City businessman Bob Vander Plaats today formally announced his candidacy for the 2010 Republican gubernatorial nomination by pledging to pay down the enormous debt generated by Governor Chet Culver, improve Iowa’s tax and regulatory climate to draw new companies to Iowa, create a 21st Century communications infrastructure and take action to allow a statewide vote on the definition of marriage.

Vander Plaats set a goal of repaying by the end of his first term the long-term borrowing Governor Chet Culver and legislative Democrats approved to create the short-term I-Jobs program. The $750 million they borrowed will require the state to pay $1.8 billion in principal, interest and fees if the state takes the entire length of time scheduled to repay the debt.

“Our state is too great to allow it to continue to waste away, as it has under Chet Culver’s watch. The first step any turnaround CEO takes is to stops the bleeding. We need to pay off the debt Chet Culver has saddled us with so we can start investing in the future instead of leaving our kids to cover the millions of dollars interest on his credit card,” Vander Plaats said during a noon event at City Park. “A turnaround CEO also brings in the best and brightest people from the public and private sector to lead an organization. I’ll do that.”

Vander Plaats vowed to reassert the governor’s authority and a proper balance between the judicial, executive and legislative branches in the wake of the Iowa Supreme court’s opinion earlier this year to same-sex marriages are legal. He pledged to sign an executive order on his first day in office to stay future same-sex marriages until Iowans have an opportunity to vote in a statewide referendum on the definition of marriage.

“We call it the Foundation Proclamation because it will defend key foundations of our society and government – the family and the separation of powers,” he said.

He added, “I will be a governor who stands up for true conservative principles. I will work to reduce the tax burden on Iowans instead of increasing it. I will oppose the drumbeat of expanded gambling. And I will be a governor who supports a culture of life from conception to natural death, and I’ll appoint a lieutenant governor who is as passionate about that foundation of society as I am.”

Noting his commitment to “open Iowa for business,” Vander Plaats said, “I want to make sure Iowa will be a bridge to anywhere – a place where the top companies in the world, large or small – want to locate, grow and thrive. We cannot afford to have hit-and-miss cell phone coverage across parts of the state and internet service that’s 10 years behind the times. Just as we need our roads and airports to be up to standard, we need a reliable 21st century communications infrastructure. ”

Vander Plaats’ administration will remove the public school system’s “model core curriculum” and aggressively reform education through the setting of international standards, simplified funding, accountability and transparency.

“I want Iowa to lead the United States and the world and the only way to do that is to have high standards in math, science, communication, technology and authentic American and world history. To reestablish Iowa as an educational leader, we need less federal interference and we must get rid of Chet Culver’s one-size-fits-all approach,” he said. “I will create an environment where resources are directed towards student achievement, where districts learn from the successes of others, where all districts are held accountable for results and where they report those results in the most transparent and accessible manner.”

Vander Plaats said his campaign is “about leadership and freedom” and he is not running to be a governor who defends the status quo or tinkers at the margins.

“I’m in this race to be a transformational governor who limits the size of government, reforms our tax structure to make Iowa far more competitive, sets our education system on course to be the international standard and demands excellence from every dollar we spend on public services,” said the Sioux City businessman, who also had a scheduled appearance in Kalona on Tuesday evening as part of a week-long statewide tour.

Vander Plaats, 46, is a former high school teacher and principal, former president and chief executive officer of a nonprofit rehabilitation facility for people with brain injuries and the Republican Party’s 2006 nominee for lieutenant governor. He is the president of MVP Leadership, a consulting firm that helps business executives hone their leadership and strategic skills. Vander Plaats and his wife, Darla, live in Sioux City. They have four sons. Their third son, Lucas, was born with a severe brain condition. He inspired Vander Plaats to write the book “Light from Lucas,” published by Focus on the Family.

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