Monday, March 17, 2008

State Rep. Wayne Ford Announces Re-Election Bid

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Des Moines, Iowa – Iowa State Representative Wayne Ford of Des Moines recently announced he will be seeking another term in the Iowa House of Representatives. Ford is a Democrat and represents House District 65, which covers north-central Des Moines. Ford has served in the Iowa House since 1997 and is the longest-serving black state legislator in the history of Iowa.

“In the 12 years I have served in the Iowa House of Representatives, I believe we have made progress in the areas of education, health care, and job opportunity, but more needs to be accomplished. I am also seeking re-election to make sure that we continue to make progress that will help the people of my district and the state of Iowa.,” said Ford.

My platform emphasizes my involvement in and support of environment/health issues, economic development, and equity for all Iowans.

Ford indicated he was especially proud of several of his personal accomplishments in the legislature. “After years of working on issues that Iowans face in regards to lead paint, we’ve passed my bill which was considered to be landmark legislation.” HF 158 was a bill that required all children in the state of Iowa receive a lead blood test by age six or prior to enrollment in an elementary school. If not detected early, lead paint poisoning can cause brain development and physical problems, including death. “The next step must be to develop programs to help repair the homes and apartments that contain lead paint. I have been working with other local and state officials since last fall on this aspect of the problem,” Ford said. "I've been working with officials at every level to find ways to fund what I think is one of the most challenging issues facing our state."

“I am also proud of my work improving the state’s Targeted Small Business program to help businesses owned by minority members,” Ford said. “After serving on a special task force created by Governor Vilsack, I introduced legislation last session to change the program to make it more effective. The program has been on the books for years, but was not very effective. Legislation passed last session is making this program work, helping more minorities get their businesses off the ground, and improving opportunities for minority businesses owners to obtain state contracts for goods and services. “I am pleased that Governor Culver has included the T.S.B. program in the state budget this session.” Ford also said.

“Also in this session, I have sponsored legislation that would make it a requirement that any state agency which distributes funds through a grant or contract require a Minority Impact Statement as part of the application process.” HF 2288 will require the application to include three types of information: whether the proposed activity will have a disproportionate or unique impact on a minority population in the state; a rationale for the existence of the activity if it will have a disproportionate impact on a minority population; and evidence that the applicant has consulted with representatives of the affected minority community, or communities, if there is such an effect on minority persons.

I have received a lot of positive feedback and look forward as we get ready to debate this bill in the House Chamber.

Like many Iowans, I am not proud of the state's being number one in America when it comes to the incarceration of blacks. “Although we still have a long ways to go, I have worked and will continue to work on why a disproportionate number of African-Americans are in Iowa prisons. HF 2227 is a bill for an act relating to the preparation of a correctional impact statement. This statement will look at the impact of certain legislation on racial and ethnic minorities. This legislation will make sure that, when we increase penalties on certain crimes, we do not inadvertently discriminate against African-Americans or other minorities, causing even more of our youth to go to prison.” Ford said. The Sentencing Project, based in Washington, DC, has work with Ford on this legislation. Sentencing Project Executive Director, Marc Mauer, has said that, if passed, it could be the first law of its kind in America.

I am also concerned with disproportionately high minority dropout rates and disproportionately low minority high school graduation rates in our schools. I have been working at every level to address these problems in our schools and communities and will continue to do so.

Ford currently serves as Chair of the Community Outreach Subcommittee of the Iowa House Appropriations Committee, Vice Chair of the House Government Oversight Committee, and sits on the House Economic Growth, and Human Resources Committees.

Ford played football at Drake University and graduated with a degree in Education. He has done graduate work in public administration at Drake University and in the Masters of Social Work program at the University of Iowa.

In 1985, he founded Urban Dreams, a United Way agency created to serve the needs of Des Moines’ inner-city residents. Ford has served as its Executive Director since its inception. Urban Dreams has evolved into a statewide organization and is working with Simpson College to develop an Urban Institute to deal with the challenges facing Iowa as it continues its rural to urban transition.

Ford has received national acclaim for the Brown & Black Presidential Forum, which is the oldest minority Presidential Forum in America. He and his Co-Founder and Co-Chair, Mary Campos, created the Forum in 1984.

Ford has been profiled in the Washington Post, the Washington Times and nationally in Parade Magazine about his rise from Washington, DC’s inner city to the Iowa Statehouse. He has also been profiled nationally on BET and HDNet TV. Representative Ford is also included in a book called “The American Dream,” written by former CBS News anchor Dan Rather.

Ford has been inducted into numerous Halls of Fame including Rochester Community College’s Alumni Hall of Fame in 1994, Drake University’s Double-D award for athletics and civic involvement in 1995, Des Moines B’nai Brith Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Iowa State African-American Hall of Fame in 2004. In 2007, he received the University of Iowa Black Law Students Association's Alexander G. Clark Jr. and Sr. Award. In 2008, the Iowa Commission on the Status of Blacks presented Ford with it’s first ever Harold Washington Pinnacle Award during this year’s state of Iowa’s Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration. Ford and Mary Campos were finalists for The Des Moines Register's Iowa Star Award and Urban Dreams was a finalist for The Register's Aurora Award in 2008.

Wayne is married to Romonda Belcher Ford, an Assistant Polk County Attorney. He has one son, Ryan Ford, who resides in Los Angeles, CA. Ryan graduated from Roosevelt high school in 1995 and is currently Executive Editor of The Source Magazine.

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