Lemi Tilahun, 27, announces bid for Cedar Rapids mayor

He wants to put focus on youth engagement

Lemi Tilahun
Lemi Tilahun

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids man who has been active in political campaigns is running for mayor.

Lemi Tilahun, 27, said he is running to be involved in and inspire a new era of leadership with a focus on youth engagement.

“I am not unhappy with the current state of the city,” Tilahun said. “I just think there’s a big under representation of youth. I am looking to see and advance the opportunities for young people to be involved in city government.”

Tilahun, whose campaign slogan is “Lemi Be Your Mayor,” was born in Ethiopia and moved to Cedar Rapids at a young age. He graduated from Washington High School and Coe College with degrees in political science and economics and a minor in Spanish. Tilahun said he has worked on several political campaigns, including President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and the 2014 midterm elections. He now works in retail at the Men’s Wearhouse store in Cedar Rapids.

His top issues include prioritizing affordable housing, enhancing public transportation to better connect core neighborhoods, boosting technological infrastructure and creating an entrepreneurial advisory board made up of residents ages 25 to 35.

“As mayor, I will allocate public lands for affordable housing development and focus on a program of responsible economic development by attracting development of public and affordable housing units,” Tilahun said on his website,

Other candidates for mayor are Cedar Rapids City Council members Kris Gulick and Scott Olson, former director of the Department of Corrections 6th Judicial District Gary Hinzman, former City Council member Monica Vernon, community activist Jorel Robinson, attorney Brad Hart and pastor Tim Pridegon. Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett, who is running for governor, is not seeking re-election.

The candidate filing period ended today. The election is on Nov. 7.

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