Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges

Justyn Lewis is a candidate for Des Moines City Council. -promoted by Laura Belin

When I attended East High School in Des Moines, I played cornerback on the football team for three years. My senior year had arrived and it was time for me to step into the coveted starting role I worked so hard for. During training camp, I was asked by my coach to make a switch to defensive end–a position I knew little about–in order to round out the strength of the starting lineup. While this was not the role I dreamed of, I understood it was for the greater good of the team. I knew if one of the 11 positions on the field was not at its best, it affected the whole team. There was no doubt my team needed me here and I would answer the call. 

Hello, my name is Justyn Lewis, and I am running for Des Moines City Council At Large. Born and raised in Des Moines, I know that the communities of this city are equally valuable and unique. However, several of our neighborhoods have been unjustly left behind and are facing systemic barriers to fulfilling their basic needs.

With more than 15 percent of the city’s population living under the poverty line, it is critical that we address the issue of income inequality and its severe consequences on us all. Too many citizens of Des Moines are working two or three jobs and still struggling to survive. When so many of us are living paycheck to paycheck, we can not adequately support the small businesses that enable our communities to thrive.

We also must work toward eliminating Des Moines’s food deserts: insufficient access to nutritional food options is detrimental to the growth of our children, families, and communities. As a city, we need to work together to ensure that everyone has equal access to affordable, healthy food in all neighborhoods.

Lastly, our justice system has historically targeted communities of color and low income  communities and prioritized punishment over rehabilitation. We have to continue to come together to hold our government accountable, protect our communities from structural inequity such as racial profiling, and call for new measures of oversight through implementation of restorative justice practices.It’s time to look at alternative strategies to crime prevention and public safety like adequately funding social services. 

These are just a few of the challenges facing us in Des Moines and while they are strenuous, they are not insurmountable. We can confront these issues and make significant change, but we need sensible leaders who will listen and uplift ALL of our voices, and I plan to do just that.

The solutions to these problems must come from a place of empathy. When we effectively serve the most marginalized of our communities, we will move forward as a more unified city. I will work toward this mission on a platform of affordable housing, support for small businesses, improving the justice system with greater access to mental health resources, improved access to healthcare, urban sustainability, and fixing our food deserts. I will be a champion for all residents and their unique challenges based on age, race, ethnicity,  gender, religion, sexual orientation, ability, neurodiversity, and economic status.

As a father and small business owner, it is important to me that Des Moines is a place that people want to stay and grow in. I am running to sustain and improve our communities so that my children and the generations to follow can proudly plant their roots here.  When people decide to make their homes in Des Moines, we gain invaluable community pillars.

It is also extremely meaningful to me for communities of color to see real representation in their government. Children of color deserve to see someone who looks like them making change in their communities. I would be honored to be that person and to remind them that they belong in all places where decisions are being made.

If you agree that Des Moines is better when everyone is equally valued, please consider donating to my campaign here. You can also follow my campaign on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram

Editor’s note: Bleeding Heartland welcomes guest posts by Democratic or progressive candidates for Iowa’s state, federal, or local offices, or commentaries by their supporters. Please contact Laura Belin if you are interested in writing.

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