Small business owner Deidre DeJear launched a listening tour along with an exploratory committee, each with unique purposes to help her develop a competitive campaign for Iowa governor in 2022.
“I am a firm believer that Iowans know what Iowans need, and so this conversation tour is really about listening to the voices of Iowans,” DeJear said in an interview with the Times Daily.
As money continues to dictate politics, DeJear isn’t just throwing her hat in the ring but instead working with an exploratory committee of individuals to ensure her campaign has a path to victory financially and allows her to begin fundraising.
“As they are doing their work, I am doing [the listening campaign] because I believe in people and so much is going to come out of these experiences that I want to share with the entire state, and I am looking forward to that part,” DeJear said.
Her tour kicked off Monday with a small business roundtable at her alma mater Drake University, visiting Ottumwa, Muscatine, Burlington and other Iowa cities. DeJear said her goal of the listening tour is to hear what challenges face the communities within the state, and from there, she will figure out solutions.
“These experiences I have right now at every stop is not informing my decision to run; if anything, it is reiterating the importance of having good leadership and it is confirming the need for that leadership,” DeJear said.
DeJear is an entrepreneur from Des Moines. She was born in Jackson, Mississippi, but moved to Oklahoma with her family as a child. When DeJear was 8 years old, her mother passed away shortly after giving birth to her younger sister. DeJear witnessed her father tend to her, and her sibling helped shape who she is today and her current values.
DeJear fell in love with Iowa after moving to the state for school, and she eventually chose Iowa as her home. DeJear started her business during the recession to help individuals who had been laid off starting their own small businesses. Since then, DeJear has helped over 640 small businesses develop marketing plans and ignite their businesses. While small businesses felt pressure during the pandemic, DeJear created a table of individuals to come together and raise money to support struggling businesses.
DeJear is the vice president of the League of Women Voters in Des Moines, a member of Links, Inc. and currently serves on the boards of Count the Kicks, Des Moines Housing Service Board and Iowa Interfaith Alliance. DeJear and her husband Marvin manage a herd of cattle on a ranch in Oklahoma they purchased with a USDA loan.
The way Iowa moves forward, DeJear said, is in two ways: staying connected to remain informed on the needs of the people, and bringing people together with shared interests and values to overcome the challenges along the way.
“We know the needs by connecting to people, and we address them by bringing people together to resolve the challenges,” DeJear said. “So when I think about why I am qualified, I am in the business of doing the work for the people and with people, because we deserve that type of leadership, and I expect to take that same sentiment to the governor’s office.”
DeJear said Iowa is at a crossroads now — the state can either move in the direction of meeting the needs of Iowans or in the direction of self-interest, and she believes in putting Iowans first. Child care and education are two key issues for DeJear that go hand in hand when making Iowa a place where people want to reside.
“It is ever more important for us to ensure that when we are raising our kids and educating them in our state that they can go off to technical schools, go to work or go to college,” DeJear said. “I think it is important to not only prepare them for that, but we also want to give them a reason to stay in Iowa if they want to. We want to give them that pride in their state so they can grow and move forward in the state as well.”
Another issue DeJear identified is the depleting rural populations due to the lack of resources like child care and broadband in the state. DeJears’ message to rural Iowans is, “I will never forget you.”
“You deserve to grow,” DeJear said. “You deserve to be able to live in your community. You don’t have to move to a suburb, you don’t have to move to a big city. We want to bring resources to you in your comfort zone, in the place that you grew up and in the place that you prefer to live because you deserve that. The conditions of our economy should not dictate where people want to live, and right now, it is doing that.”