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Some voters of color worry candidates don’t hear their concerns on issues

Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 6:17 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - With less than two weeks until the general election, some voters of color in eastern Iowa feel forgotten.

On Saturday, candidates for both the U.S. Senate and Iowa’s first congressional district were all invited to a forum focusing on black issues in Waterloo. Only one candidate showed up. Advocates in Cedar Rapids say that’s not just a problem in Waterloo, and isn’t a new issue just this year.

“If we don’t keep our foot on the gas and keep pressure on those running and those in office, these issues will not be on their platforms and will not be at the forefront and no one will be working on them,” Amara Andrews, with Advocates for Social Justice, said.

Over the last nine months of the 2020 election campaigns, Andrews, who is on the board for the organization, said she’s seen the same out of this year’s candidates as campaigns past. Andrews said for many voters of color, things like social justice issues and other racial disparities are top of mind. However, she feels candidates' support for those issues has fallen back.

“As an example, I think of the Black Lives Matter Movement and how you know, months ago, people were being responsive to the Black Lives Matter movement and many politicians were willing to support Black Lives Matter,” Andrews said.

Issues facing communities of color were the topic at a candidate forum Saturday in Waterloo.

“I feel like in Iowa a lot of focus is put on rural communities, farms and things like that and not so much especially the African American communities, things that are affecting us,” Bridget Staffold, who attended the forum said.

Saffold asked the only candidate at the forum, Democrat Theresa Greenfield running for Senate, about healthcare disparities amongst people of color. She said hearing directly from candidates on black issues helps her make a decision at the ballot box.

“When they do take the time to come directly to the community we can see their face, we can hear their voice, we can get a feel of who they are as a person,” Saffold said.

Andrews said she thinks there are candidates willing to address social justice issues, but for many, it’s lip service.

“If it’s advantageous to the candidate, they may speak to it, but mostly they don’t unless there is political pressure to do so,” Andrews said.

Only leaving more of a reason, she said, to demand issues like social justice are brought to the forefront.

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