Nov 2, 2021 - Politics

Meet the millennials seeking office in the Des Moines metro

Illustration of I Voted stickers, piled on top of one another.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

When we called up Justyn Lewis the other night, the young dad and Des Moines City Council candidate was taking care of his two girls, ages 4 and 2, at home.

  • "My kids understand that I'm busy — that daddy's working," Lewis said. “(My daughter said) Daddy, you’re just trying to make the world a better place for me,” he continued.

Lewis, 31, is part of a growing electorate of millennials who are seeking office, striving to change the status quo.

Justyn Lewis, Des Moines City Council candidate
Justyn Lewis, Des Moines City Council candidate. Photo courtesy of Lewis

The big picture: A record number of millennials ran for office in 2020 and they're on track to become the largest eligible voting bloc in the U.S.

  • There's a new generation of political leaders that have been shaped by the Great Recession, heightened partisanship, the growing threat of climate change and the murder of George Floyd.

What he's saying: Lewis, of Des Moines, said he felt compelled to run following Floyd's death and the protests that followed. At times, he believed the council didn't understand why people were marching or calling for police reform.

  • "Progress changes during generations and younger generations are asking for more and pushing the envelope and pushing the meter forward," Lewis said.
  • Some of his priorities include creating more flexibility for small businesses and freezing property taxes for seniors.

Meanwhile, Bill Lu, who's also a 31-year-old father to two young children, is running for Ankeny City Council.

  • Lu, who was born in Shanghai and immigrated to Iowa, would be the first non-white person to serve on the council.
  • He's worked as a Des Moines police officer for the last decade, and his goal is to be "the most visible" council member by being involved in the community and available for conversations with the public.

And the ultimate millennial get? Lu got Andrew Yang to endorse his campaign.

Andrew Yang and Bill Lu
Bill Lu (right) gained the endorsement of Andrew Yang, a former presidential candidate popular among younger voters. Screenshot via Bill Lu for Ankeny City Council Facebook page

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