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Grassroots Politics: Local Parents Passionate About School Board Seats

IOWA CITY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -- The Iowa City Community School District is in the midst of making major changes to some of its policies, while looking to fill three spots on its school board that will open up in September.

Plenty of local people are already vying for those three seats, and the current candidates say they're not running for personal or political gain, but because they really believe in making a difference in the lives of the children and communities in Iowa City.

Candidate Jason Lewis said the district's current attempts to create more equity through its new diversity policy reminds him of his own personal experiences.

"My parents divorced, and I got free and reduced lunch when I was a kid, and my mom struggled as single parent making really low wages," Lewis said.

As he campaigns for a seat on the board, Lewis said he isn't necessarily trying to speak for people with similar struggles, "but keep those challenges that I know I faced and other people are facing in mind as I do my part to, sort of, honor this social contract that we have," he said.

Lewis used to be the Parent-Teacher Organization president at Mark Twain Elementary School when his children attended. People whose children went to other schools used to tell him Twain wasn't as good of a school, but Lewis said that wasn't his family's experience.

"I see that there's a way that we can start to build a broad platform, a broad base, for everybody to have great opportunities, and I just want to hopefully be part of the solution," he said.

Brian Kirschling, who is also running for the board, said, creating that equity in the district is possible, because people have the chance to be more proactive than they did in the days when the district was first expanding into Coralville and North Liberty.

"We can look at what we want our community and our schools to look like, 30, 40, 50 years down the road," Kirschling said.

That idea of creating change at a grassroots level is really what made Kirschling decide to run in the first place, he said.

"I'm one of those people that feels like the best way to affect change is to roll up your sleeves and to maybe get into it. Get into it and do the work," he said.

Along with Lewis and Kirschling, Chris Lynch, James Tate, Phil Hemmingway, and Sara Barron also claim to be running.

The official deadline to get on the ballot is August 1. Election day is Tuesday, Sept. 10.

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