By Dwight Hobbes
Reva Chamblis, former candidate for Brooklyn Park City Council’s East District, isn’t by any estimate sitting around crying over spilled milk. No sooner did her region’s primary elections wrap up (Chamblis missed advancing to the general election by a small margin) then she threw her shoulder back to the wheel, firing up a Get Out the Vote initiative.
“Brooklyn Park has over 50 percent minority that are registered voters,” Chamblis points out. “Turnout there was very low, to the extent that it could have been.”
Hennepin County and local districts, Chamblis notes, had qualified minority candidates. “Most lost due to low turnout [among citizens] who have a stake in the election.” There has been, it’s common knowledge, a flap about whether Brooklyn Park’s interests are misrepresented by a lack of minorities in elected office. She adds, “New leaders are ready to serve.” They can’t do that without sufficient support.
This scenario strikes few by surprise. Voter apathy is a perennial brick wall public office seekers run up against. According to Reva Chamblis, there’s a problem on top of that. She observes, “Apathy might be a portion of the low voter turnout. But, I also believe that there was lack of visibility of minority candidates in the media. Had the media, radio, print, given coverage…candidates who were not incumbent would stand a better chance.”After all, it’s hard to vote for someone you don’t know who is running.
“I think the media decided to wait until after the primary result to focus on what [is] happening.” They chose to sit things out and not roll camera until there were front runners.
Chamblis finished after second runner Dakota Huseby by 68 votes. Incumbent Peter Crema won. Her chief disappointment, other than not winning, of course, is that less than 1,600 out of 14,148 registered voters (11.3 percent and less than two percent of minorities) chose the Brooklyn Park East candidates who’ll move on to November 6th’s general election.
“The incumbents,” Chamblis underscores, “did little outreach work to promote their campaigns compared to competing candidates and they still came out on top. Do you see something wrong with this picture?”
It hardly requires a magnifying glass. Some things are fundamental. She is looking for stronger citizen representation at the grassroot level. More voters bringing citizens’ power to bear. With telling effect.
She states, “Most of [my votes] got were from non-minority voters, which allowed me to have a close and strong race. If [more minorities] had voted the numbers could have [been] significantly different, and I would be in general election.” She missed qualifying by a mere 68 votes.
Chamblis’ candidacy had quite creditable advocacy. Endorsed by AFSCME Minnesota Council 5 Labor Union and African/African American Women In Politics (AAWIP), she is a member of the Northwest Community Collaborative in Brooklyn Park.
Community icon and past Minneapolis City Council member Natalie Johnson Lee went door knocking with Chamblis. Lee attests, “After watching, listening and spending time with Reva, it is clear she’s passionate about community concerns and definitely a force to be reckoned with.”
Reva Chamblis can be counted on to throw her hat in the ring next round. Meantime, she’s in there swinging for what she believes is the public good. “I want to see that we have a greater number of minorities who will vote.”
Reva Chamblis emphasizes that registered voters who are parents do well to have youngsters in the house who are of voting age follow suit. That’s how it’s done under her roof. Her son, Christian Mathis, has accompanied Chamblis to the polls since a teen, and at 21 voting is a priority. That’s handing it down to the next generation.
Chamblis states, “Education and involvement in the political process starts at a young age. They’re watching and listening to us. We build for their future and leave a legacy of strength and hope for tomorrow.”
Reva Chamblis’ credentials: University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management graduate, majoring in business and management information systems; INROADS alumni, member of League of Women Voters — Minnesota and of Northwest Community Collaborative. Chamblis is a business analyst at Wells Fargo’s Wealth, Brokerage and Retirement division.
During the campaign she advocated for livable wage jobs, supporting small and large business creation and growth, safe and stable neighborhoods, fair and responsible government, and quality education— including closing the academic and technology gap with minorities, impoverished and immigrant communities.
Chamblis emphasizes that from congressional to local level Minnesota ran no less than 14 prospects of color in the primaries. To vote on November 6, you can look up the polling place closest to you at www.brooklynpark.org/sitepages/pid957.php.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.