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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

IoWhat is Going on in Politics? White offers representation, committed public service

This Tuesday, Nov. 7, voters from across Iowa will go to the polls to choose their next municipal leaders. There are many candidates to choose from, especially in Iowa’s bigger cities. In Des Moines, voters will choose between a passionate environmental lawyer, Josh Mandelbaum, and a seasoned political organizer and President of the Iowa Council on American Islamic Relations Abshir Omar. While there is only one contested race on Grinnell’s ballot, I urge my fellow students to get out the vote with the same vigor as you did last fall. Campus Democrats specifically chose not to endorse a candidate in the municipal elections, as these offices in Iowa are officially non-partisan and oftentimes the issues that the city faces go beyond the simple left-right dichotomy. Like School Board elections this past September, most partisan organizations encourage their membership to be active only in the campaigns. As a leader in a variety of Democratic organizations, I was planning to do the same.

As someone who places the highest value on public service and a willingness to work towards a better Grinnell, I cannot stand by as a candidate pretends to be progressive but at the same time draws upon rhetoric that does harm. Because of this, I am unequivocally endorsing Jim White to continue his work as an at-large city councilperson.

Another candidate in the race has made something very clear — he won’t represent College students. Instead, he’ll only represent “ordinary” Grinnellians. I understand the need to represent every citizen of Grinnell, especially as the at-large councilperson. That is in no way accomplished by othering the students that make up a large part of the community. This kind of rhetoric is a part of the clear effort in town politics that seeks to suppress and disenfranchise students. Every general election, students’ ballots are systematically challenged by certain members of the community that think that students should not have a political voice in Grinnell. But every time those ballots that are challenged, they end up being counted, as they rightfully should be. Just as our ballots are challenged and just as people don’t see us as valuable members of the community, we are pushed out.

Rhetoric that others the College students should not win in Grinnell. Jim White has played an active role with students. He has hosted more than 35 international students, and he has employed many students over the years in his local business. White says that, in its best moments, Grinnell is a city of helping people. The Midwestern culture of kindness is not just a stereotype. It should be an aspiration to guide our government as well as our interpersonal interactions. Those values of a welcoming community should be cherished and acted upon. For example, it is important to ensure that Grinnell is a welcoming community for immigrants by promoting civic development. White has made sure that when the City has to fine members of the community for improvements, there is always a fund that can ease that cost for our most vulnerable citizens. This belief in Grinnell is what inspires him in this job and what he wants to continue. 

I believe White has shown himself as a committed public servant who has the best interests of his constituents at heart. So, for this reason, I encourage you to cast your vote for him at the Elks Lodge this Tuesday, Nov. 7. 

— Austin Wadle ’18

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    AnonymousNov 3, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    Um, excuse me, Grinnell College students are being “othered?” This is an absurd claim. As a Grinnell student myself, I am ashamed that any of my peers would suggest students are somehow “oppressed” in the town-gown equation. We get amble access to financial aid, food, housing, amazing classes, and the list goes on and on. Sure, it’s tough to be a student sometimes, especially when your family doesn’t have a lot of money or you don’t have a good relationship with your family. But do you know what’s tougher? Living under the poverty line in a town that’s been largely gentrified by a College that caters to (primarily) upper-middle class white students. Anyone who thinks that Grinnell College students are being “othered” by a townsperson is clearly out-of-touch with the concepts of privilege and humility. This column reeks of elitism.