Urban Dreams Gives Communities Increased Access to Presidential Candidates

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Urban Dreams, a local nonprofit in conjunction with Creative Visions and NAACP Des Moines, has hosted almost every major presidential candidate in an effort to involve the metro’s under-represented community in the 2020 election cycle.

“[We] sent the invitation out to every person running for president in the United States, we will actually have the first Republican candidate on Friday,” said executive director Izaah Knox. 

The block parties are hosted in conjunction with NAACP Des Moines. At first Knox was unsure of what the outcome would be, but then former candidate Congressman Beto O’Rourke confirmed almost immediately, setting up a domino effect with other candidates.

“He actually canvassed the neighborhood himself, which was really cool had...dinner at the CFUM at the feeding program,with all the people it was awesome. That really set a high standard for everybody else to really get there and be authentically engaged in the community,” said Knox.

According to Knox, events throughout history has made minorities believe their vote is not important. For example, people of color not being able to vote and the past existence of poll taxes.

“Candidates never came and asked them for their vote, right? If they did, it was every four years of some volunteer calling them on the phone and pronouncing their name wrong,” said Knox.

This year Knox has noticed an increased effort in candidates to reach under-represented communities. He thinks it’s partially because of the bigger candidate field.

“The candidates are definitely working. I don't think that the candidates four years ago worked as hard as the candidates now...they're not here...I mean they're not relying on all the big rallies all the time they're actually still doing the small things where this point last year the rally strong rally so four years ago,” said Knox.

Although he doesn’t see a clear front runner, Knox says people who come to their block parties are more excited to learn about each candidate. He’s hoping it will lead to an increase in caucus participation.

“Just last night, a guy was like, I would have never asked this question. In a Million, I'm so nervous right now ask you this question and I never thought I'd have the opportunity to ask the question to a presidential candidate,” said Knox.

The last block party will be this Friday where Urban Dreams will be hosting its first Republican candidate, which will be former congressman Joe Walsh.

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