Statement on James Houser Entering General Election
Yesterday evening, I learned that my primary opponent Mr. Jim Houser has left the Democratic Party – changing his affiliation to No Party – to run against me again this fall. While many might criticize his actions or question his motives for running again for a seat he lost this summer, I actually believe his actions take great courage. His relentless pursuit of this seat indicates a desire to serve and hopefully a desire for meaningful policy accomplishment.
Since coming to office, we’ve had many policy wins. We’ve tackled big problems, we’ve helped a lot of people, and we’ve laid the groundwork for an ambitious program that aims to interrupt cycles of poverty and reduce youth gun violence with the publication of the Safe, Equitable, and Thriving (SET) Communities Task Force report. We have extended collective bargaining contracts, helped small businesses after the Flood of 2016, raised wages for thousands of workers, and we became the first county in the state to implement a suite of progressive hiring practices with our “Ban the Box,” initiative.
We have started construction on a state-of-the-art public health and child development building, named after two Civil Rights legends in our community, Dr. Percy and Lileah Harris. We have started the planning process for an access center, a community-based initiative that will divert individuals in crisis away from our crowded jails and into programs that offer help and rehabilitation.
This seat will soon become one of three; an important voice for most of Cedar Rapids. It does not automatically belong to me because I won a primary. It belongs to the people and whichever candidate that wins enough of their votes in November. This election and all others on the ballot is about the future. We must decide what kind of community we want to be; what kind of country we want to be. Since 2016, I have pushed the Board of Supervisors to constantly think about the socially vulnerable and working people. I have challenged my peers to open their eyes to disparities and injustice, asking the eternal question: what more can we do to help others?
We have big challenges in this community and if Mr. Houser were to be successful, I hope he would give these issues his best efforts because his voice, attention, and energy on these issues has been noticeably absent. But perhaps that was the lesson of the primary: the voters deserve and have demanded that their elected officials take an active role in the community to solve tough problems and lead with conviction and purpose. While I received a super majority of the votes in that contest, I will not take this upcoming election for granted.
Our campaign will be competitive. We will join our partners in organized labor and run a far-reaching door-to-door canvassing operation, complete with targeted social media outreach and paid communications. We’re going to work hard and we expect to be successful.
My very best to Mr. Houser and to all of the other candidates who put their name on the ballot this fall.