Deidre DeJear

Iowa State Fair Political Soapbox - Aug. 13, 2018

Deidre DeJear
August 13, 2018— Iowa State Fair
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Are y’all ready to vote?

No, you don’t sound like you’re ready to vote. Are y’all ready to vote?

Awesome. I’m Deidre DeJear and I am so excited to be running for one of my favorite roles in state government – secretary of state. And here’s why: you know the job of the secretary of state – number one job is commissioner over elections and campaigns. And over my entire career, I have been engage in a number of campaigns both partisan and non-partisan, because I genuinely care about getting people out to vote. I was, in ‘08 I worked on the Obama campaign on campus while I was at Drake University. Yay go Bulldogs.

And in 2012 I wanted to do a little bit more, and so I ended up working statewide on the Obama campaign. My job was to travel throughout the state, getting hard to reach populations to vote. After that, I ended up working on some school board races – just for fun. We do that for fun, work on school board races. And I realized in those school board race that it was so much easier to get people engaged in the process than it was in a presidential race. Why? ‘Cause you could show them there were small margins of victory. You could show them in those small margins that every single vote counted. You could show them how the issues that they were dealing with, day in and day out, could be resolved in these small elections. But in these small elections we see minimal turn out; minimal turn out statewide. Turn out that I know could be so much better. In those small races I also realized that I’ve heard every single excuse, that exists under the sun, as to why people chose not to vote. In this climate right now we can talk all day about people’s duty to vote; people’s right to vote; and they should be ashamed for not participating – but I’m here to say I want to be the secretary of state that truly gives people a reason to vote. Because it’s so important. It’s so, so important.

Before I knew of Barak Obama, I knew this woman called Maddie K. Washington – she is the – was the Yazoo City County elections commissioner. Yazoo City County elections commissioner, teacher of over twenty-five years, and my grandma. And, my grandma, made me work on her race – I say made me because she did. My grandma, no one says no to this woman – she stands at about 6’5 and she’s 220 and she wears a size 14 shoe. And so I knew that if any progress was gonna be made I needed to work on this woman’s campaign otherwise that size 14 might have ended up somewhere I didn’t it to be. But at any rate I’m so grateful that my grandma had my work on her race, because she truly planted the seeds of why it was so important for people to vote.

Yazoo County is in Mississippi – the deep, deep south. And, my grandma, growing up, had the opportunity to see all of the trails and tribulations that existed around voting. All of the blood that was shed; all of the sacrifices that were made, for both African Americans, people of color and for women. And so when I stand in 2018 and I see that people are carving folks out of the voting process, I don’t want to stand on the sidelines. Because I believe in all of those sacrifices that were made in order for – people to exercise their right to vote.

We’re in a day and age where I shouldn’t matter if we’re Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, or Independents – each and everyone of us, if we are eligible to vote in the state of Iowa, we should be participating. We’ve got 2.4 million eligible voters in our state. 1.9 million are active. Let’s go find those 400 thousand votes. 400 thousand people – it doesn’t matter what their issues are; it doesn’t matter which side of the aisle they sit on – they’re American voters, and we need each and every one of those folks to participate. And I’m saying that because I come from a coaching background.

Tonight is Eastsider Night, and I used to couch for East High Scarlets – any Scarlets out there? And one of the things that I learned as a coach was that it was important after each and every win for the score to be fair. We won in 2011 – we were state campaigns for the entire state in girls’ basketball, and, we won every single game that year. End each and every time that we won, we wanted there to be no excuses as to why we won. Cause you know people say your balls are flat; your floor is dirty; the refs are on your side – so we made sure our balls were aired up; we made sure our floor was clean; and I guarantee you none of those refs were on our side, none of ‘em were on our side. But at the end of the day it was a clear and concise victory. That’s what I want November 6 to be. I want every eligible voter to be included in the process. Every eligible voter, so when the score comes out on November 6, we know I was far. But we can only do that if we care about including every single voter. There are some things that can be done in that secretary of state office day one, to engage people in the process. Since Parkland 18–29-year-olds across our entire country have been really excited – voter registration has gone up; voter engagement has gone up. In Pennsylvania they’re up 16% amongst 18–29-year-olds. And our neighbors in Minnesota they’re up 4.5%. In Iowa, we’re in a net loss. Our 18–29-year-olds have got to be engaged in the process.

That’s our voter base moving forward. At the end of the day we can talk all day on soap boxes; we can complain on Facebook; we can talk around the dinner table but what draws the line in the sand, is us actually going to the ballot box and using our voice. And I want to be a secretary of state that is a campaign for those voices. The other part, of what that secretary of state’s office is business administration – not business administration, business registration. So anybody wanting to do business goes to that office to register their business, ‘cause they can’t get a bank account unless they do. I’ve done a great deal – of business engagement work: helping businesses start, helping them grow – that’s what I’ve done my entire career – that’s the job that pays me money. And so I work with this business and so often I find that they’re one business day from closing their doors indefinitely, because they don’t know the resources that are going to help them grow. Throughout our state fair today you see tons and tons of small businesses. Tons of them. We have over 260 thousand small businesses in our state, providing jobs for about 50% of the workforce. I want to make sure that those businesses not only have an opportunity to start, but that they’re connected to the resources that are going to help them grow. These resources that exist statewide, that our state tax dollars are going towards – let them take advantage of those resources because we don’t know ahead of time what –

DeJear, D. [DMRegister]. (2018, August 13) Democratic candidate for Secretary of State Deidre DeJear speaks at the Register's political soapbox [] Retrieved on April 15, 2022 from