Deidre DeJear

Bid for Governor Interview - Feb. 17, 2022

Deidre DeJear
February 17, 2022
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[REECE COLBERT] Deidre, welcome to Roland Martin Unfiltered, so good to have you here today, how are you?

[DEIDRE DEJEAR] It is so good to be on the show I’m sad I couldn't be with Roland, but really excited that I’m here with you Reece.

[COLBERT] Yes, I’m holding down for rolling while he's in Liberia, and I’m happy to have you on. You know how I feel about Black women running #winwithBlackwomen but girl, you are in Iowa – a Black woman running in Iowa is not something that people hear all the time. So tell us more about you, and what it would mean for Iowa to have a Black, woman, governor.

[DEJEAR] Awesome, so I’m a small business owner and I started my small business while I was in undergrad, at Drake University. And what's great about this state, and what I keep with me often, is that in spite of all of the challenging circumstances that I was dealing with as a young college student, there was opportunity and provisions that were made available to me, in this state. Not only was I able to start a small business in undergrad, but I started a non-profit to help other students who were interested in going to college get engaged, and for those students who were in k through 12 to be prepared with school supplies when they went into school. And so when I think about what this state has been able to do for me, and the pathways of opportunity it's created, and I think about where we are right now as a state. You know we were once number one in education, now we're 18, 19 on the list. Our governor is 44th in the nation. We're not paying our teachers what they deserve and – while the rest of the country is dealing with a worker shortage and a skills gap, you know I was not living up to its potential. And a great deal of that not only is – part of you know us experiencing this pandemic, but the greatest point of that is having failed leadership, in this state. And so, I’m running, as you heard in the video, because I believe in Iowa and I believe in what we're capable of – but that belief is not just predicated on a hope and a dream. That that belief comes from where Iowa has been.

A lot of folks don't know this – talk about Black history month – a man by the name of Alexander Carp, 100 years, nearly 100 years before Brown versus board of education, led um this state to ensure that each and every student had access to an education. Had access to an education despite their race, despite, their gender – that happened in Iowa. This is also a state where a woman like me can become the first African American to ever be nominated for a statewide office. And lastly what everybody knows is this is a state that that sent a signal to the rest of the country, back in 2008, that Barack Obama should be our president – and that happened in a state that's majority white. And so, I believe in this state because I believe in what we've been able to accomplish in the past – and that only speaks to a brighter future in the future given we have different leadership.

[COLBERT] Absolutely. Now, to be clear – you are running for the democratic nomination, and your primary is uncontested right? So you are the only candidate for the democratic nomination at this point, right?

[DEJEAR] Correct.

[COLBERT] Okay –

[DEJEAR] Correct, correct.

[COLBERT] So, let's say, that continues to be the case and you are the actual nominee come the general election – what makes Iowa competitive for the folks who are interested in supporting, but they might think a republican governor, how is this going to work out?

[DEJEAR] You know what's unique about Iowa is that we've traditionally been purple. And over the last several years, we have erred on the side of leaning right. But what has happened over the years in this state is that Iowans have the ability to see the humanity that exists in folks, they have the ability to to feed into authenticity. And what's authentic about Black women leading, what's authenticity or authentic about me leading, is the fact that it's never really been about campaign promises for me, it's always been about outcomes. And right now Iowans, as vulnerable as we are related to education mental health our health care system in general – whether we're in rural Iowa or urban Iowa – we're seeing shared struggles across the state. And so what it would mean, for me being office, and it is one that I’m willing to put people first, and that I’m going to put people first. Because I believe that that's the only way we lead – that's the only way we grow. If 2020 taught us anything, it's that we're stronger together. I mean our cities, our communities, were literally stripped to the bare bone – and it was our job to pull the pieces together. And we did that collectively, all over the country. Iowa was not immune. Needless to say, unfortunately, what we've had to deal with over the last two years during this pandemic is a leader in Kim Reynolds, who has politicized COVID – who's politicized our education system and has drawn a wedge between Iowans all over the state. And it has served no justice, and it has given us no value. And so I’m ready to see real change happen in our communities, and throughout the state amongst communities of color; amongst our students; amongst our women; amongst our working class folks. There's so much work to be done, we just need leadership who's willing to put in the work and willing to put people first.

[COLBERT] Absolutely. Speaking of communities, talk a little bit about the coalition you have put together that you think will power you to the win – and how you've been received, throughout the state, throughout your campaign.

[DEJEAR] So I had the fortunate opportunity when I was an undergrad to volunteer for then Senator Barack Obama’s campaign back in 2007 – that is where I started building coalitions. I then went on to work for him in 2012, in his re-elect in the state as an African American vote director. And I went on to work on school board races and city council races. I’ve done non-partisan engagement work; I’ve done partisan engagement work – and all of this has been an effort to increase people's access to the ballot box and uplift people's voices during this political process. Iowa, in our state constitution, says that all political power is inherent in the people – and I am reminding people of that every single day. The coalitions that we're building go beyond my own racial identity. We've obviously got coalitions of Black folks all over the state. Not only do we have Black folks engaged, we're engaging our Latinx population, our AAPI, LGBTQ, our folks with disabilities, and our students, and rural Iowans. These are constituencies that have traditionally been hard to reach populations. Some in the democratic space might call them ‘less reliable voters’ – well from my vantage point they are reliable because they're Americans and their Iowans and we need to ensure that they have true access to the ballot box. Especially in light of the fact that this state, after a record year in 2018, experienced even more voter restriction laws – that was signed by this current governor – that disproportionately impact Blacks; that disproportionately impact other communities of color; and vastly disproportionately impacts 65 plus in this state. And so we've got a lot of work to do and that coalition building is what was able to get me through my secretary of state's primary. That coalition building is what was also able to ensure that all of the other campaigns that I was a part of, we got wins. Because it's from my vantage point, it's incredibly important that when we talk about democracy, when we talk about getting people engaged in the process, that means all people.

And we don't wait till the last minute. We start at the beginning, the populations that are critical to engage in our communities – the hardest to engage – we start with those first. And then we work our way backwards because that is how we truly get people to the ballot box, by meeting them where they are and not taking their voice for granted.

[COLBERT] Absolutely. I think you have to compete for every vote, and meeting folks where they are is really important. With social media a lot of times different candidates, or even sometimes the party, expects people to come to them and go to their website. But I love that you are getting out there and meeting folks. Let's go to the panel, Teresa do you have a question for Deidre?

[TERESA] I think it is phenomenal that African American women, like yourself, are going for not – not the mid-level position but a really high position, where change can really happen in your state. So my question is, have you received the support – obviously I think you said you received the democratic support – so what can people do, you know, to support your campaign um so you can make it through the general election?

[DEJEAR] You know this takes a village and, I’m a democrat, and we know over the last two to four years that democrats have not been getting all the wins that we wanted, throughout this country. And that's also happened in Iowa, but that's no reason to count us out – especially when people are willing to do the work. And so I’m letting folks know that there are Iowans out here that are willing to do the work; that are willing to invest time and energy and into getting people to the ballot box this go around. But if you're not in Iowa, you can also contribute to our race – every dollar counts. I mean I’m running against an individual who has been an elected official for nearly 30 years. They were an elected official when Iowa was at its peak, and now under her watch its falling short – and so folks can give to help me be competitive in this race. We've got to get on TV; we've got to connect to folks via social media and other advertisements because this is this is a race that, one, has to reinvigorate hope that we can change given what societies it has experienced over the last two years – but it's also a campaign that is not only going to reinvigorate hope but it's going to deliver.

As I said earlier, for me and so many Black women across this country it's not really been about promises. Our success has been predicated on what we've been able to deliver, outcomes. And so when we walk through this campaign process, we're not selling people dreams, we're selling people reality – because it's the fundamentals that have to be restored in the state. I mean we've got teachers who are leaving the job going to other states. We've got superintendents who are teaching in classrooms and in schools that are closing, because they don't have enough individuals to do the work. That is fundamental to our democracy – education, access to a free, affordable and accessible education that's of quality is incredibly important. And our state's failing on that. In fact our state is suggesting that we should put cameras, in the classroom. Our state's creating a banned book list. Our state is also going down the road of talking about things that aren't even taught in our schools rather than focusing on what should be taught in our schools. And so, we've got a lot of work to do – but we're not that far gone. We just need help. And folks can contribute to put in that work to help us.

[COLBERT] Okay, I’m gonna go to Mustafa – we gotta keep it quick – but before I do that, I just want to ask the website – because you said people could give, but I didn't hear a website. So give folks the website and then I’ll go to Mustafa for a question.

[DEJEAR] is our website.

[COLBERT] and spell that out for the folks.

[DEJEAR] D-e-j-e-a-r for – spell out for –

[COLBERT] Okay. Mustafa, your question for Deidre?

[MUSTAFA] You know there's a lot of fantastic folks in Iowa. It’s cold there but I’ve seen some of the great folks and spend time there. My question for you is this: you know when you're elected governor, a number of the dollars that are part of the, you know the bipartisan infrastructure bill, will be flowing, year after year into Iowa – and of course other places. How will you, as governor, actually utilize those to make real change happen?

[DEJEAR] Excellent question, and I’ll be brief. I mean we have one lone state representative – or excuse me, congresswoman – Cindy Axne that has been advocating a great deal to get resources in the state alongside the Biden administration, and we've gotten over half a billion thus far. And I think what's incredibly important is that this state has a partner that's not only willing to take those resources and put them to work, but unfortunately we have a governor that that sent resources back. Nearly 100 million dollars back to the Biden administration – and so we got to put those resources to work on climate, on infrastructure, on our schools – because Iowa needs those resources in order for us to grow. And, I intend on being a true partner there to make sure that we're using those resources equitably – and ensuring they're meeting the population's needs.

[COLBERT] Thank you Deidre that was you've given us so much to chew on, and I hope that you get more support. The website again is DeJear for Iowa – say that one more time.

[DEJEAR] – d-e-j-e-a-r for Iowa.

[COLBERT] Okay, thank you and you have to keep us posted on how your campaign goes on Roland Martin Unfiltered.

[DEJEAR] Absolutely it was so good to spend time with you Reecey, and thanks to the [inaudible] questions.

[COLBERT] Thank you.

DeJear, D. [Roland S. Martin]. (2022, February 17) 'We're Stronger Together': Entrepreneur Deidre Dejear Talks Bid For Iowa Governor | #RMU [] Retrieved on April 15, 2022 from