Dr. Glenn Hurst, a physician and city council member from Minden, met with Union County Democrats Monday night in Rainbow Park during a campaign stop. Hurst, a Democrat, is running for a seat in the U.S. Senate currently held by Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Grassley, 88, announced Sept. 24 that he will seek an eighth term. That election is November 2022.
Hurst said his ideas aren’t that of just the Democratic party.
“Every single person in this city wants their community to grow,” said Hurst.
Hurst, 51, was born on a military base in Germany before moving to the Midwest as a child. He has an undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska Omaha and a medical degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He recently stepped down as chairs the Iowa Democratic Party’s Rural Caucus and the party’s 3rd District Central Committee so he could run for U.S. Senate. He was also involved in founding a branch of Indivisble, a progressive activist organization, in western Iowa.
During his work with the Democratic party, Hurst said he’s noticed a trend in rural towns, similar to what’s happened in Minden.
“Everywhere I go that our communities are just shrinking,” he said. “And our census confirmed that. Sixty eight of our 99 counties lost population. Twenty five percent of our population has been lost since Chuck Grassley has been our Senator.”
Hurst briefly outlined ideas he had to help grow shrinking, mostly rural, communities. As a medical doctor with his own clinic and a medical director for three nursing homes, he said access to healthcare and access to basic services is critical for any community to survive.
“(Minden) It’s a town of 600. I can see about 200 of the 600 people that live in Minden,” he said. “About another 200 are sent to in-network providers in other networks. They live across the street from me, but they can’t come see me.”
Without services, Hurst said patients fail to complete treatments and can die unnecessary deaths.
“They have to drive 90 minutes to Des Moines or in to Council Bluffs to get primary care and that’s a problem for me and for them,” he said.
Health care for all is a central part of his campaign.
“We lack access to really basic services,” he said. “My time with the rural caucus showed me that our communities are starting to ‘fail to thrive,’ which is the medical term we would use.”
Hurst is also focused on economic development. In his town of Minden, he said people are taking up residence in storefronts on its main street.
“Because we’ve got no stores in our storefronts and I see that across the state,” he said.
Hurst said people choose where to live based on amenities and access.
“How are the schools? Do I have access to health care? Where do I buy groceries? All three of those are absent in most of our rural communities,” he said. “If you don’t have services, you’re not going to attract people. You’re actually going to start lose people. When you lose people, you lose more services. Then you lose more people, more services, That’s why Atlantic is the only hospital between Des Moines and Council Bluffs where you can deliver a baby now.”
Hurst’s vision for rural Iowa also includes working on policies that attract businesses and create local jobs. He hopes to create pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as minors, and attract the most skilled of those continuing to be brought into the country. Hurst is also targeting improving broadband internet access so individuals can work remotely. Land use and water quality is important to him so Iowans can take advantage of recreational activities like fishing and hunting.
“I haven’t been positioning myself to become a senator, this is just the right step,” he said. “It’s the next right thing for me to do with the experiences that have been placed in front of me throughout my life. I wake up each morning with a passion to help rural Iowa. It’s where I’ve landed. It’s where my family is. It’s what we love and I think we can make it for everyone.”