The leader we deserve.

I met Stacey Walker a little more than two years ago.  Shuffling into the old Clarion hotel in southwest Cedar Rapids in January 2016, I, along with maybe a few hundred other neighbors in my precinct filled a conference room waiting to break out into preference groups for our presidential candidates.  Stacey commanded a presence in the room.  I was unclear as to how I could have been in Cedar Rapids all my life and not encountered such a person with so much magnetism before, but I was determined to introduce myself that evening.  I had no idea that he was running for office himself.  What mattered to him that evening was helping his fellow neighbors, breaking down the rules, and answering any and all questions to make the process accessible for all.  What came next was a friendship that helped me better understand local government and how I could better get involved.

I next saw Stacey at the county convention, where he continued to be a resource for me. There I learned about his candidacy for Linn County Supervisor and I couldn’t tell enough people about it. At the time, I was working on behalf of a nonprofit organization to connect with more policymakers who could affect change in my areas of interest.  Stacey was one of the few people who responded when I emailed and solicited help and support by attendance at future events for this nonprofit organization.

I could not have been more proud to watch on election night in November of 2016, as Stacey became the first African American Supervisor for Linn County.  Needless to say, this was a historic moment.  I have watched my friend become my representative and an advocate for all Linn County residents so that they might have a safer more equitable and welcoming home.  I have watched Stacey set a room on fire with inspiration, as eyes have grown large with hope and a desire to become more engaged in their county and local government.  I have watched residents of all ages line up in masses waiting for a moment to pick his brain and thank him for the lengths he has traveled to help them with whatever concern or question they had.  His passion and courage to ask why and investigate opportunities for improvement never ceases to amaze me.

As I transitioned into a role of a local government colleague, Stacey has continued to be one of very few individuals who remains responsive and accountable. His attention to detail, his ability to work through challenging conversations, and fight for equity and inclusion for our county continues to make me proud that he serves my hometown, my family, my neighbors.  He is a once in a lifetime leader who makes me put my head in my hands with wonder, stretching my brain to ask myself if I could do more.  From the time I met him, I have watched Stacey work to serve his constituents, not just the ones who have checks to give, but more so the folks who have hands raised with questions seeking answers.  Stacey is the leader we need, the leader we deserve, and the leader I attach my name to because I am proud of the person he is and what he has yet to accomplish.  This is why I’ve cast my ballot for him for the June 5th primary, the third time I’ve voted for him, and why I am encouraging you to do the same.

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