RJ Miller: Why I'm running for Iowa House district 34

RJ Miller: I chose to run to take the voices of my community and make their voices louder.

I am a community activist who’s been organizing in Des Moines since 2019 around the issues of racial discrimination, civil and human rights, and urban violence.  Originally a victim of gun violence in Minneapolis, I overcome the obstacles of gang activity and incarceration in order to inspire and support my community in a collective effort to defeat the issues that plague the inner city. 

My mission is to uplift, empower, and transform the Des Moines community through restorative justice, empowering the youth, and investing in solutions that will combat the forces of colonization and oppression at large.

I chose to run in order to give a voice to those society has slammed the door on, such as at-risk youth who are prone to be in gangs or commit crimes, those who are incarcerated, the everyday person who is trying to make ends meet, those who have mental health issues but don’t know where to go or who talk to.

I chose to run to take the voices of my community and make their voices louder. I want those who have been caught up in the streets to know a rose can truly grow out of concrete, and where you start doesn’t have to be where you finish.

I chose to run as an independent because I believe in putting the people first, not a party. Both parties have taken advantage of the Black vote and have come into our communities promising things they never deliver. Our community needs another option besides a two-party system that refuses to condemn imperialism and capitalism and unjust wars. People are tired of having to choose between the lesser of two evils.

As an activist and an abolitionist, I will fight to dismantle any system that is anti-Black anti-Brown and anti-indigenous. It has to be liberty and justice for all, not just a select few.

My platform:

Education – Investing in a strong and equitable public education should be Iowa’s top priority.

  • Don’t pass the “Students First Act” or any law that would take money out of public education for private schools
  • Increased funding for all public schools
  • State sponsored tutoring program
  • Reinstate collective bargaining rights for teachers
  • Autonomy for school districts, as opposed to interference from state government
  • Repeal all bills that create a hostile learning environment, causing trauma or discrimination by race, gender, culture, learning styles, or disabilities
  • Support the teaching of the 1619 Project
  • Increase the number of counselors, therapists and community workers in schools

Restorative Justice – Begin to heal our communities from the harm of the prison system.

  • Automatic parole for all who qualify
  • Retroactive exoneration for wrongful convictions
  • Expunge the records of all drug convictions
  • Housing, jobs, and health care program for all offenders who complete their sentence
  • Constitutional amendment for automatic restoration of voting rights for Iowans convicted of felonies
  • “Ban the Box” so employers can’t ask job applicants about criminal records
  • End juvenile detention
  • End cash bail/bond system
  • Reconciliation process between those who commit crimes and their victims as an alternative to prison
  • Decriminalize recreational drugs
  • Reallocate state police funds to violence prevention programs and victim services

Community Control of Policing – Police should be controlled by and accountable to the communities they serve.

  • Repeal the “Back the Blue” act
  • Repeal Code 80F (Peace Officer Bill of Rights)
  • Community elections for major positions within local police departments
  • Independent and locally elected review boards to investigate and punish police misconduct
  • An end to “Broken Windows” policing
  • taking laws off the books for vandalism, loitering, public drinking, jaywalking, and fare evasion
  • Reallocate funding for the victims of police violence, misconduct, and collateral damage
  • Ban the use of tear gas and rubber bullets as a means of crowd control
  • Demilitarize state and local police

Health care and Mental Health: Universal health care is a human right.

  • Pass Medicaid for All
  • Create a pregnant workers bill of rights
  • Paid family leave
  • Expansion of resources to support doulas and birth workers
  • Establish licensing for certified professional midwives
  • Expand programs for late-onset mental health issues
  • Require collective bargaining for health care workers
  • Create state-sponsored child care

Anyone interested in more information can contact me at rjmillerforiowa@yahoo.com or (651) 515-4934, or through my campaign’s Facebook page or website.

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

Iowa House district 34 covers part of the city of Des Moines. Incumbent State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad is seeking re-election and is unopposed in the Democratic primary. Republicans have not nominated a candidate in this district, where Joe Biden received about 75 percent of the vote in the 2020 presidential election.

About the Author(s)

RJ Miller