A guest op-ed from Ann Brown, treasurer for Amara Andrews campaign for mayor of Cedar Rapids
The position of mayor of Cedar Rapids is one of the highest offices in the state of Iowa that, by all accounts, SHOULD be held by a Democrat, but hasn’t been for almost 12 years. Cedar Rapids is the second-largest city in Iowa and Democrats outnumber Republicans here by a significant margin—that is growing.
Over the last four years, as the Republican Party has become the party of Donald Trump, newly-registered Democrats in Linn County has far outpaced new Republicans. But a Democrat hasn’t led the city since 2009, when Kay Halloran was mayor. This year that is set to change as Democrats have the opportunity to make history by electing Amara Andrews as the first Black mayor of the city.
Amara is one of the first candidates in years that has been able to get people excited about a municipal election in Cedar Rapids. Not only is she a Democrat, but she is also progressive-thinking on issues like social justice, equity and climate change. Democrats in Cedar Rapids have been waiting for a candidate to champion these issues on their behalf.
Amara’s Republican opponents, knowing that their conservative positions do not align with the majority of Cedar Rapidians, have employed a version of the Wizard-of-Oz defense, asking voters to pay no attention to their party affiliation. As silly as this sounds, it may be working, at least with local journalists.
The Andrews campaign has sent contrast pieces illustrating the policy differences between Amara and her Republican opponents, pointing out that they have supported some of the most dangerous Republicans in history—Ashley Hinson and Donald Trump. These pieces should have generated tough questions for the O’Donnell and Hart campaigns to answer for their political positions, but instead have resulted in accusations from those camps that Amara is too aggressive, too political, too partisan.
Amara’s opponents have accused her of personal attacks by calling them… wait for it… Republicans.
Hart and O’Donnell have repeatedly asked voters to ignore their party affiliation, because if Democrats are paying attention, Hart and O’Donnell cannot win. But party affiliation matters, especially when choosing the leader of our city and Democrats need to realize how important this election is. Everyone is tired of partisanship and the divisive politics of the post-Trump world, but voters still need to look to party affiliation to make sure they are selecting a candidate who reflects their values.
Do we want someone who supports Ashley Hinson to make decisions about how we make our city inclusive for the LGBTQ community? Do we want Trump supporters to be in charge of addressing issues of racial equity within all city departments? Do we want leaders who are anti-union and anti-worker to be in charge of the best way to grow our city’s business community?
Not only is this election important to Democrats now, but it is also important for the future of Democrats in our state. Local leaders become statewide leaders and national leaders. If Cedar Rapids elects a Republican mayor, we are handing the Republican Party a future candidate for a statewide election, who can tout that they were able to win over the overwhelmingly blue people of Cedar Rapids.
Democrats need to pay attention and more importantly they need to get out and vote on November 2. They shouldn’t vote for Amara just because she is a Democrat, they should vote for her because she is a great candidate. She is smart, compassionate, professionally successful and socially progressive. If Democrats don’t elect her mayor, who knows when they will have another chance to elect a Democrat with the resume of Amara Andrews to the mayor’s office.
The mayor of Cedar Rapids should reflect the values of the people of Cedar Rapids. Don’t be duped. Get out and vote your values.
by Ann Brown