Why am I running for Board of Supervisors?

14. March 2016 Campaign 7
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The Lewis Family: Vaughan, Theresa, Coleton, Jason. Our first family portrait after adopting Coleton.

My name’s Jason T. Lewis. I’m a Democrat running for Johnson County Board of Supervisors. You may know me as a former candidate for ICCSD board. If you do, you might be wondering why I’ve decided to run for Board of Supervisors.

The answer is simple: I realized the issues I care deeply about aren’t just school issues, they’re community issues.

Social justice for all, concerns about child welfare, juvenile justice, and the need for sustainable, responsible growth and development, unfettered access to mental health care, innovating community technology, advocating for the arts are all issues that stretch beyond our schools. As a member of the Board of Supervisors my reach can be wider and potentially have even more impact. I can’t wait to get started.

We need to grow and develop responsibly. We need leaders committed to sustainability and alternative energy sources.

We can’t leave people behind if we hope to move forward. No one should work for anything less than a livable wage and I’ll continue the fight for that as a Supervisor.

I’m a parent of two great kids, my daughter, Vaughan, who is ours naturally and our son, Coleton, who we adopted after first fostering him in our home. My wife Theresa works for Four Oaks all over the state to help find homes for children who have needs beyond what many of us could imagine.

I’m the Director of the Writing and Humanities Program at the UI Carver College of Medicine. I work with the the best and brightest young people in our community at our county’s largest employer. I teach creative writing to med students and heathcare and the health and wellness of our care givers is a vital issue.

I’m a writer and musician. I’ve released 6 collections  of music over the years and published a novel in 2011. My family came to Iowa City so I could attend the Iowa Writer’s Workshop but we stayed because we I fell in love with Iowa City and Johnson county.

The supervisors carry a heavy burden. They must know and understand the challenges of not only our larger towns, but the rural communities in Johnson County and care for the infrastructure of the entire county. When I was growing up West Virginia, I lived with my mother in a college town much like Iowa City, but I spent my weekends with my dad on our family land. We hunted, cared for crops and animals, and lived simply. For a long time my dad’s house didn’t have indoor plumbing so I got comfortable using the outhouse. My paternal grandfather built a plumbing and heating business from scratch and many people in my family continue to make their living in the same way.

My maternal grandfather was an immigrant son. His family moved to Morgantown so my great grandfather could work in the coal mines. My grandfather started working at a young age, first hawking newspapers on the street corners (the same paper I would deliver myself and later work for as an editor). When he was 17 he lost three quarters of his right hand while working in a glass factory.

That didn’t stop him, though. He retrained himself, learning how to write, drive, and perform basic functions again. Then he got back to work. He met my grandmother and relocated to western Maryland, where he became the mayor of Deer Park, Md, owned taxi cabs, ran a restaurant, owned a shoe store and sewing machine repair shop, and even owned and operated the county school busses. He dedicated himself to making his community a better place. He cared about people.

That’s what I plan to do as supervisor. I will work tirelessly to make Johnson County a better place for every resident, no matter who they are, where they come from, where they worship, who they love, or how much money they make. We democrats we share our struggles, we hold our ideals close, and we fight. I’m ready to fight for the people of Johnson county.

I’m asking for your vote on June 7th and your help with the hard work we have ahead of us. I hope I can count on your support.

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7 thoughts on “Why am I running for Board of Supervisors?”

  • 1
    Harry Olmstead on March 14, 2016 Reply

    What about para-transit services for persons with disabilities and the aged. What are your thoughts on this?

    • 2
      thejtl on March 14, 2016 Reply

      Harry,

      I will work hard for better transit services throughout the county. We have to be ADA compliant across the board. We have to extend our services to all areas and to all who have need. It’s an area of huge need in our community. I’d love to hear some of your thoughts on how we can do better.

      Thanks!

  • 3
    Garry Klein on March 14, 2016 Reply

    Jason, I’m glad to hear that you are running. Where do you see their to be opportunities for the county to coordinate better with the cities in the county. How would you approach your chief issues in constructive ways? Finally, the county, in some respects is constrained by the actions of state government (e.g. CAFOs, water conservation), how can the BOS be effective in protecting the best interests of Johnson County when the state is often creating barriers?

    • 4
      thejtl on March 14, 2016 Reply

      Garry, thanks for the great questions. I’ll take them in the order asked.

      I see a lot of opportunities for the county and municipalities to work together. The first step toward that is great communication. The best way to communicate is face to face on a regular basis. I know from my time advocating for the schools there were often times when the various players (municipalities, county and school district) weren’t always on the same page on shared projects and it seemed to me the communication could have been much better and each party could have stated their goals more clearly. That’s something I do extremely well, so I look forward to that work.

      My personal philosophy on approaching issues is to always enter every discussion with empathy and understanding, to know what’s at stake for all involved and appreciate the other side. I never enter a discussion without a thought toward winning, but instead I want to know what I can do to find the best outcome for everyone. Compromise is a necessary element of progress. I pride myself on my ability to work with others respectfully and honestly. The word constructive implies building. I believe in building relationships and that leads to constructive solutions.

      Finally, I’ll point to the BOS recent work on raising the minimum wage as a great, inspiring example of finding creative ways around barriers to do great work for Johnson County. I’ll come to the job with passions and projects I want to work on and I’ll work hard to find similar opportunities to make them a reality. Sometimes leadership is seeing the cracks in the barrier and working through it instead of seeing the barrier and pulling up short. I’ve lived my life always finding ways to get things done. I’ve released 6 or 7 collections of music, a novel, and at work built a literary journal, international conference, a podcast, and many other projects without the benefit of a clear path to success. Nothing has ever been easy in my creative life, but I’ve built a career I’m proud of through little more than will. I look forward to bringing that spirit to the Board of Supervisors.

  • 5
    John Neff on April 21, 2016 Reply

    Where can I send a check.

    • 6
      thejtl on April 22, 2016 Reply

      John,

      You can mail a check to:
      Lewis for Supervisor
      308 E. Burlington St. #102
      Iowa City, IA 52240

      Thank you!

  • 7
    John Neff on April 25, 2016 Reply

    The font size is too small.

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