Two of the Republican candidates for Minnesota’s only open congressional seat, Jason Lewis and John Howe, have very different views on solutions to racial inequity in Minnesota and across the country.
Following last week’s debate at the Humphrey Institute, Lewis and Howe spoke to The UpTake about the role of congress in responding to racial injustice. Both during the debate and after, Lewis discussed the role of drug laws as potentially being more inequitable to urban and minority communities.
“There is an argument to be made, now I’m not saying I agree with it, but I think we ought to look at it, that drug laws are primarily enforced in urban and minority communities. Now people on the other side say, ‘well that’s where the drugs are,’ and there’s some truth to that, but if there is an inequity there, if the law is there and has a disparate impact, we ought to take a look at it,” Lewis said.
Lewis isn’t alone in suggesting that. The Minneapolis City Council is considering reclassifying possession of a small amount of marijuana to a petty misdemeanor to bring it in line with the state’s law and also because the law is used disproportionally against blacks.
Howe focused on racial inequity in schools and called for creative thinking in the ways in which government deals with struggling schools and required student testing.
While Lewis focused on economic development as key to countering any inequity, racial or otherwise, Howe argued that money cannot be the only solution to racial inequity.
“We should use and employ as many tools as we can, as many creative minds as we can, whether it’s charter schools, whether it’s public schools, we should encourage competition and that is what we need to do,” Howe said.
Moderators Larry Jacobs and Steve Sviggum also brought up the issue of racial inequity during the debate to five congressional candidates which included Pam Myhra, David Gerson, and Darlene Miller. The debate was organized by the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and held on January 21st, 2016. The debate was not attended by candidate David Benson-Stabler.
Video at top: Jason Lewis interview
Video below: John Howe interview
Click here for sharable version of this video