Rep. Brenda Lawrence
Rep. Brenda Lawrence

Find all of our Election 2020 coverage and other candidate interviews here. More interviews will be added as the election draws closer. 

The incumbent Democrat talks with the JN about her priorities if reelected.

Incumbent Democrat Rep. Brenda Lawrence, who previously served as the mayor of Southfield, was first elected to Congress in 2014. In November, she will defend her seat representing Michigan’s 14th congressional district, which includes eastern Detroit and portions of Oakland County, including Southfield, against Republican newcomer R. Vance Patrick, a business owner and a self-employed construction worker. Patrick did not return the JN‘s requests for an interview.

Here are highlights of our Zoom interview with Rep. Lawrence.

Racial Justice & Social Change

At the start of the summer, I was so amazed at the diversity of people who came together to support Black Lives Matter. That was extremely warming because we’re used to fighting it by ourselves.

I’m concerned now because of the violence, which has nothing to do with the movement. It’s unacceptable. It disrupts the focus away from banning choke holds, to talking about no-knock warrants and police officers who have long histories of being excessively violent and racist in their comments and behavior. Body cams should be the norm. It protects the police officers as well as any potential victim.

Postal Service

The postal service is the only government agency that touch every single door in America, six days a week. The postal service has an approval rating of over 90 percent. We have a postmaster general who was appointed with no experience in the postal service, who was there for two months when he started dismantling machines, moving collection boxes and changing operational plans, which is leading up to our election, which, because of COVID, is going to be relying on the postal service for mail-in ballots.

The postmaster general’s moves systematically slowed the mail down. Then you have, on a daily basis, Donald Trump saying that mail-in voting is rife with fraud and that the postal service is no good. The postal service was established by the constitution of this country. It doesn’t take government money. The money spent on postage runs the postal service. I will stand up and debate anyone on the value of the postal service.

COVID-19

The pandemic has peeled back the scalp of a real ugly sore in America: racial health disparities. African Americans have been disproportionally impacted by the virus and died from the infection.

A healthy diet leads to a healthy body. Yet there are some people of color who are poor and live in communities that are food deserts, and all they have for food are the corner stores, which has canned and processed food and sugar drinks – no vegetables. COVID testing is not as easy to come by in these communities as it is in richer Zip codes. America must realize that we have a problem.

We have had a president that laughs at wearing masks. We had a shortage of PPE. There is a lot of blood on the hands of this administration for not responding timely to the pandemic to slow the spread. People are still dying from this virus. It’s not going to “just go away,” as President Trump suggests.

Legislative Priorities

I’m very passionate about protecting our environment. We are global citizens. What we do here in America, our policies on emission controls and carbon footprints, means something.

I’m also very passionate about the education of children. Most Jewish schools are in my district, and I see the rich educational opportunities that the Jewish community has. My heart wishes all children had those opportunities. We really need to live up to our word when we say that every child in America will get an education. Right now, not all children are being educated equally.

I also feel very strongly about women’s rights. As we went through COVID, we found that childcare was a major barrier for women, for parents, period, who were essential workers. Affordable and accessible quality childcare is something we should guarantee for all American families.