MASON CITY, Iowa | Five of the seven Democratic gubernatorial candidates -- and a representative for the sixth -- spoke to dozens of people about their platforms and what needs to be done to fix Iowa's political issues during a meet-and-greet at a Mason City home Monday night.

Around 70 North Iowans gathered inside a living room, kitchen and on a second-floor balcony as they listened to Democratic hopefuls Fred Hubbell, Jon Neiderbach, Dr. Andy McGuire, Nate Boulton and John Norris discuss the need for better healthcare, more public education funding and increasing the wages of the working class, among other topics.

The event, "One Year to Election," was held at the residence of Gary Swenson and Dean Genth, vice chair of the Cerro Gordo County Democratic Central Committee.

State Rep. Todd Prichard, Charles City, and Sen. Sharon Steckman, Mason City, spoke to the crowd before the candidates' speeches, and urged those gathered to continue to support Democrats running for state legislature.

"The enthusiasm in this room, we got to carry that forward," Steckman said.

Those who spoke emphasized the need to replace Gov. Kim Reynolds and other Republicans.

Hubbell, chairman of the Iowa Power Fund, criticized Republicans for mishandling budget issues during the past couple of years.

"I don't want out state run into the ground with lousy fiscal policy, and a legislature that is running us down, down, down," Hubbell said.

Neiderbach, who has worked in the state's Department of Human Services, said much change is needed at the state level of Iowa politics.

"We have to change the basic dynamic in Des Moines," Neiderbach said. "Not only are the policies wrong ... but what's really scary is the gross mismanagement of our budget and entire government operations."

McGuire, former chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, said she has heard displeasure from many on the campaign trail about current state politics.

"I have people telling me that the Branstad-Reynolds administration is putting profits over people," McGuire told those gathered.

Boulton, a state senator who represents northeast Des Moines and Pleasant Hill, argued Iowa's last two governors failed to help Iowans, despite a Republican-controlled Legislature.

"We saw Bransted and Reynolds with full control of state government," Boulton said. "And what did they do with that opportunity? They blew it."

Norris, co-owner of the State Public Policy Group, sided with Boulton concerning the current administration.

"They've got a dark heart in Gov. Reynolds and this Legislature today," Norris said.

The candidates remained optimistic about the state's outlook, saying an increase in public education funding would lead to more positive opportunities for children in the near future.

Putting more money in the pockets of working class and less toward corporations would help alleviate some of the economic issues, the candidates said, who also called for the end of Medicaid privatization.

"We have to have a Democrat that wins in 2018, and beyond that," said Kate Revaux, political director for union leader Cathy Glasson.

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