DES MOINES, Iowa — A handful of Iowa House candidates running to represent Des Moines and surrounding suburbs took to Zoom on Sunday to discuss racial disparities seen in the state.
The group, Des Moines Showing Up For Racial Justice, hosted a candidate forum where contenders had the opportunity to share their thoughts on topics such as racial profiling in the state.
“Whites and blacks are stopped at about the same rate. However, blacks are three times more likely to have their car searched, to be pulled out of their car,” said Bruce Hunter, a Democratic candidate for House District 34. “That’s just not right.”
All candidates agreed that community review boards were necessary to hold law enforcement accountable. While the term “defunding the police” didn’t sit well with most on the Zoom call, some candidates did believe in reallocating funds.
“Hiring more social workers, hiring more community partners, we’re hiring folks within the police department who have roles that are not just law enforcement,” said Jennifer Konfrst, a Democratic candidate for House District 43.
A theme in the discussion was also catering to the needs of the growing Latinx community in the state.
“Providing resources for those English language learners to be a part of their schools, a part of their communities and just being there for them,” said Aaron Sewell, a Republican candidate for House District 42.
The group also emphasized taking the time to understand the concerns of minority groups in central Iowa.
“Throughout the ages, Iowa has been proud and rightfully so to be at the forefront of civil rights actions and movements. And I think we can do that again. But first we have to list and we have to act,” Hunter said.