DeJear: Change is needed in Des Moines

Secretary of State candidate wants to improve citizen engagement

DeJear

Finding ways to get more Iowans engaged in the political process as well as helping them understand the ins and outs of state government is part of the reason for Deidre DeJear’s run for Iowa Secretary of State.

DeJear, a Des Moines businesswoman and voting advocate, is one of two Democrats seeking the secretary of state post. She will face off on June 5 against Jim Mowrer — the winner to square off against Republican incumbent Paul Pate come November.

“I’m a small business owner. My work is dedicated to getting other small businesses started and growing. With that work, it takes me to the Secretary of State’s office quite a bit while working with my clients to help with filing and navigating all the other state offices,” she said during an interview with the Times-Republican

Along with that work, DeJear’s other passion as a voting advocate is to see more Iowans becoming engaged in both partisan and non-partisan elections and the political process overall.

“Obviously when I think about making a macro-change in those area, the best way to do that outside of being a consultant is what led me to run for office.”

DeJear said she believes increasing voter turnout is key and that as Iowa Secretary of State, her office could work “side by side” with organizations that are vested in that work, both partisan and non-partisan, to increase those efforts.

“We need to do a better job of increasing visibility,” she said, adding that the current officeholder “doesn’t do a good enough job of connecting with perspective and current voters.”

DeJear said she would increase outreach efforts to high school and college-age students to get them excited about the political process.

An example of one of her concerns related to college-age voters: The recent change in Iowa law that cut back the time period for voters to cast an absentee ballot from 40 days prior to 29 days prior.

DeJear said college students at Iowa State University, for example, said trimming back the absentee voting calendar by 11 days impacts them as well as other college students in Iowa.

“We’re taking for granted that they are not fixated in one space and in one residence,” she said. “Our college students are one of the most transient populations in the state, so moving definitely impacts voting.”

Voting aside, the secretary of state’s office, DeJear said, has a valuable role in helping small business owners find their way through a maze of paperwork and regulations if they want to get started in Iowa.

“We want to make sure we don’t take for granted that they know all the ‘ins and outs’ of starting a business. I work with business owners and I see the need for more resources — or that we need to connect them to more resources — education, access to capital … They just need someone to help connect with those resources,” she said. “I’m one of those folks who believes that whether they’re a farmer or on Main Street, that we have to do our due diligence in that we don’t take their presence for granted.”

DeJear said she’s appreciative of anyone who is willing to step up and seek public office, but said there has to be something much more than just putting one’s name on the ballot.

“It’s not enough to just run and it’s not enough to just get elected,” she said. “We now need people who are willing to represent the best interests of Iowans.

“I’m engaged with the people who I’ve worked with through small business, development, voter engagement, presidential races, school board races. When someone votes for me, they’re voting for someone who cares.”

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Contact Jeff Hutton at 641-753-6611 or jhutton@timesrepublican.com