DES MOINES, Iowa — As a freshman representative from District 39 in Polk County, Eddie Andrews wants to help bring people together. It’s not as easy as he thought it would be due to the color of his skin and the party he is representing.
Andrews is only the second Black Republican elected to Iowa’s House of Representatives in the history of the Iowa Statehouse. Representative Cecil Reid was elected to the House in 1967. Andrews acknowledges few others like him have come before him and says he’s focused on the future.
“I’ve always felt like if I can see a problem and address a problem I can help fix it,” says Andrews.
The Des Moines native isn’t wasting anytime settling into his new assignment but he’s quickly learning the other side to politics.
“People are watching for both good and bad. That’s just what happens in America,” shrugs Andrews. He says he’s faced derogatory and racial name calling. “You name it I’ve been called Black racist, coon, Uncle Tom even the N – word,” he explains. “This is from multiple people from Black people who don’t think I’m Black enough and from white people who don’t think I should be here. Some days its harmful and will get you down a little but I’ve never been one to stay down.”
Of the 150 lawmakers at the Capitol, seven of them are minorities. Andrews is the only Republican.
“Every Black person has their own unique experience and my experience is not going to be yours but our experiences are both authentic and so I’m only giving my perspective and the viewpoint I bring from upbringing,” he says. “I can give my perspective and hopefully give some context and insight to a political debate that we are having and help bring about a solution for everyone.”
Andrews grew up on the city’s east side, is involved in ministry and works as an IT consultant. He’s prioritizing issues like taxes, education, mental health and jobs. Solutions he says shouldn’t be Black, white, red or blue.
“If something like that could happen, Republicans and Democrats working together on the issues that we can work together on look how powerful this state could be even better.”