Election 2020: A Conversation with Jeannine Lee Lake

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Jeannine Lee Lake is running for Indiana’s 6th congressional district with a desire to help her community. She is an astoundingly available and transparent candidate. One glance at her Facebook page shows her intense activity traveling her district, connecting with voters. “Wherever a voter is, I want to reach them. I want to be approachable to all.”

Jeannine Lee Lake for Congress

Jeannine Lee Lake For Congress

This isn’t Jeannine’s first rodeo. She ran for this congressional seat in 2018 against Greg Pence. That time she was unsuccessful. This election year sees the two vying for the same seat again. Jeannine is not one to be thrown by a loss. Back on the campaign trail, she’s got more votes, donations, and support than before.

“Who does she think she is, running against a Pence?” Jeannine recalls hearing the President of the Republican Women of Muncie/Delaware County ask.

Who is Jeannine Lee Lake? Where does she get the gumption to run for Congress against the Vice President’s big brother?

Big Family, Big Heart

Jeannine is the daughter of Clarence and Betty Lee and one of fifteen children. Lake’s parents worked extraordinarily hard and resented government assistance. “At times, we went to bed hungry. Not starving. But not full, either,” Jeannine says, laughing. Clarence and Betty always found a way, holding down several jobs while leading active church, volunteer, and community lives.

Going without in her younger years inspires Lake to meet the needs of Hoosier families today. She is the chairwoman of Feed My Sheep, an organization that distributes food for Thanksgiving. “Wall Street is doing better than Main Street. The stock markets are rebounding, but Main Street isn’t feeling it. One in four children goes to bed hungry. That’s where we’re at.”

And Jeannine wants to meet her constituents where they’re at. Then give them a boost. As Congresswoman, she’d work to raise the minimum wage to $10. But she also knows that if there are no jobs, wages won’t matter. Jeannine will strive to keep current manufacturing jobs here, dedicated to holding outsourcing and automation at bay. She would vote against any tax cuts for the ultra wealthy.

A Woman Of Faith

jeannine lee lake posing at church

Jeannine grew up in a devout family, and faith continues to guide her life today. “Me getting into the pulpit of politics was predestined,” Lake asserts. You can’t go to a Lee family reunion without running into a pastor. Clarence, two grandfathers, and eight Lee siblings took up the cloth. Jeannine’s husband, Aaron, is also a pastor.

Lake’s deep commitment to helping Hoosier families is rooted in her Christianity. “The Word tells me to love my neighbor, to reach out, whether they look like me, sound like me, or worship like me.” Jeannine is a Congressional hopeful who truly wants to serve.

Jeannine strives to fulfill Jesus’ command of “love thy neighbor as thyself” at a legislative level. She believes that access to health care and education improves quality of life. Lake would work to institute Medicare For All and tuition-free public colleges (along with student loan forgiveness, zero interest policies, and increased financial education).

Jeannine Lee Lake, Journalist

Jeannine graduated from Ball State with a degree in journalism. For fifteen years, Lee worked as a reporter. She covered all kinds of beats, from courtroom to business and education.

In 1995, she worked at the rewrite desk of USA Today in Washington, D.C.. Lee was invigorated by her involvement with a Pulitzer winning team, spearheaded by a kind, but exacting, boss (the legendary Sam LaSpada). When Betty got sick, Jeannine came home and took a job at The Star Press.

As a reporter in Muncie, Jeannine had a front row seat to city council meetings, criminal trials, and day to day running of the city. This background gives her first hand knowledge of local government function. Lee will use these Main Street insights to influence national policies.

Jeannine Lee Lake, Entrepreneur

lake with indiana car driver

Not content with getting just the figurative scoop, Lee opened Grandma Betty’s Ice Cream Shop in June 2005. In 2007, Lee established The Good News, the only minority and faith-based newspaper in Muncie, Indiana.

“Having to work for myself keeps me grounded,” Lee states. Jeannine has experienced the highs and lows of entrepreneurism. When COVID hit, The Good News lost advertisers and didn’t qualify for aid. Meanwhile, Jeannine and her husband are putting their kids through college.

Jeannine knows how hard it can be for working Hoosiers. “The hardest working people can have business failures,” she muses. This candidate has a firm grasp of the day-to-day reality of her constituents.

Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

jeannine lee lake

Civil rights are important to Jeannine. Not only as a Black woman but as an American. Lake is an advocate for all people. She is a proponent of protecting the right to practice various faiths, while strongly believing in the separation of Church and State.

Jeannine supports the creation of a hate crime law in Indiana that would protect everyone. To help heal from historic racial injustices, Jeannine proposes increasing funding to committees that research systemic racism. Lake has helped build community awareness around civil rights issues by attending town halls, rallies, and meetings.

Racism is a virus. People are tired of dealing with the same problem over and over. It won’t just go away. It has to be addressed. People get uncomfortable and don’t want to talk about it, but we’ve got to deal with it.

The Candid Candidate

jeannine lee lake for indiana

Jeannine Lee Lake displays a frankness as refreshing as it is rare. It’s unusual to hear a congressional candidate share their stances and struggles so openly. In candid Facebook posts, Lake shares her life experiences: the joys of career wins and parenthood, the anxiety of nearly losing their home in a sheriff sale, and the ups and downs of a thirty year marriage.

I don’t know where the image of the traditional family became the image of running for Congress. That doesn’t reflect real life.

Jeannine is extraordinarily accessible, in person and electronically. She attends meetings and gatherings all over her district and community. Online, she’s often going live, responding to comments, and answering messages, with honesty and humor.

When asked about the difference between her and her opponent, Greg Pence, Jeannine playfully replied (poking fun at his notoriously stand-offish campaign policy),

If you meet Pence before November 3rd and he’s willing to speak to you or email you, vote for him. If not, you can call, message, email me, I’ll hear you. I’ll talk to you, listen to you, and we’ll try to reach a solution together.

I doubt you’ll hear back from that guy. If you’re looking for a candidate to engage with, check out Jeannine’s Facebook page and website.

Get out (or mail-in, whatever) and vote this November.

Megan

Megan

Megan writes everything on Ish Mom. She lives in the Midwest with her wonderful husband, three boys, and a bunch of corn. She’s a voracious reader and a life-long recipient of questioning looks.
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