Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett.

Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett.

Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett today said he’s planning to “pivot” and travel the state to “talk about issues” — a possible prelude to a 2018 campaign for governor.

“Going out there and talking about the issues first is, from my point, a way to get people more engaged,” Corbett told reporters from Radio Iowa and The Cedar Rapids Gazette.

Corbett, a Republican, was a state legislator for 13 years. He resigned as House Speaker in 1999 to become the leader of the chamber of commerce in Cedar Rapids. He has been mayor of the city for the past five and a half years.

“So that’s given me a different set of eyes as far as getting involved in statewide public policy,” Corbett said.

Corbett was elected mayor in 2009, after the 2008 flooding that devastated many areas of Cedar Rapids.

“There are some important issues that are facing Iowa and Cedar Rapids has a good story to tell,” Corbett said. “and now that our flood recovery is over with, I think that gives me a chance to pivot and talk about some issues that have affected Cedar Rapids and how they’re affecting the state of Iowa.”

The first issue he plans to highlight is water quality.

“Certainly the Des Moines Water Works put a big stake in the ground and has a lot of people’s attention around the state,” Corbett said. “Maybe what Cedar Rapids did doesn’t get as much attention, but our partnership with 14 other organizations to put in demonstration projects to control water quality and runoff is something that needs to be told.”

The City of Cedar Rapids owns over 2000 acres of farmland around the Eastern Iowa Airport and Corbett just announced plans to seed 100 acres with grasses that will be used as biofuels at the University of Iowa’s power plant. Another 100 acres of city-owned farm ground will be an experimental site to test how filter strips work in preventing run-off from reaching two nearby waterways, the Cedar River and the Iowa River.

Corbett expects voters to “shop around” for a candidate for governor in 2018 just as they’d shop for a house or a car. Others who are likely to seek the Republican Party’s gubernatorial nomination in 2018 are Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds and State Ag Secretary Bill Northey — if Governor Terry Branstad does not seek reelection to a seventh term.

Corbett, who is 54 years old, is a Pennsylvania native who went to college in Cedar Rapids and stayed in Iowa after graduating.

He made his comments after taping a joint appearance with mayors from Council Bluffs and Des Moines on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program that airs this evening.