Greg Hughes ran for governor in 2010 and Congress in 2012 as a long-shot candidate, and now he’s running against one-term incumbent Ron Corbett for mayor.
Hughes, a 38-year plant employee at Quaker Co., said Friday that his runs for governor and Congress gave him a platform to express his views even if he had little chance to win. But the mayor’s race is different, he said.
“I think this mayorship is very winnable,” said Hughes, 56, of 1202 36th St. SE. “I’m surprised they didn’t try to get a third person in there to try to take votes away from me.”
Hughes said he is running for mayor because city taxes are too high and government waste too widespread.
“Right now we need a freeze on everything,” he said. “We just can’t keep taxing the people. We are far more than peasants. Caesar just keeps raising taxes on the peasants. And I’m fed up, and I know a lot of peoples are fed up.”
He said property taxes have gone up during Corbett’s four-year term as has the franchise fee on people’s gas and electric bills.
Hughes called Corbett “taxing Ron.”
He agreed with the mayor that the city’s streets are in awful shape, but he blamed city leaders past and present who he said have wasted city funds that should have gone to street repair on other things.
He said he will vote against the ballot question on Nov. 5 to extend the city’s existing 1-percent local-option sales tax for 10 years to raise revenue to repair streets. The city takes in enough money now to solve the problem, he said.
“I know there’s money we’re wasting,” Hughes said at one point. At another, he said, “I’m just sick of the waste.”
He had little time for Mayor Corbett’s campaign tactic in which the mayor is running 200 miles of city streets to see firsthand how bad their condition is.
“Listen, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist or run the roads to find out that they are bad,” Hughes said. “I think that’s absolutely asinine,” he said of Corbett’s campaign runs.
Hughes operated a Tae Kwon Do business in the city for 22 years, and as a result, he said he understands what he takes to succeed at business and how large a burden that city property taxes can be on commercial property owners.
At the same time, Hughes said he didn’t necessarily oppose the idea of City Hall giving economic development incentives to attract and keep businesses. He recalled how competitive it was back in 1999 when the city of Cedar Rapids was able to attract a national Tae Kwon Do championship to the city over other cities.
“Unfortunately, we have to be competitive,” he said. “When you have other cities that are willing to give the farm to get somebody in there, we have to make it enticing for people to be here.”
He said his top three priorities when he ran for governor in 2010 were “jobs, jobs, jobs,” and jobs are still at the top of his priority list, he said.
Hughes said he would like to know the final cost to the city to renovate the city-owned downtown hotel, and he said he objected to the city policy to charge citizens who want to examine city records after the first 30 minutes of any review.
He borrowed from Ben Franklin and said it is the duty of citizens to question government.
Hughes is single, the divorced father of three adult children. He has three grandchildren.
He received 1.2 percent of the vote when he ran for Congress in 2012 as an independent and 0.3 percent of the vote when he ran for governor in 2010 with no party affiliation.
Hughes also has been critical of waste in the Iowa court system and he is known for his work promoting fathers’ rights.
He said he is the chairman of the Iowa Child Support Advisory Committee for the Iowa Supreme Court.