Minneapolis mayoral candidate Nekima Levy-Pounds has felt energized as she hits the campaign trail — while expecting.
She and her entrepreneur husband, Marques Armstrong, are overjoyed with their news, which attracted 1,300 “likes” on Facebook. “People are excited for us,” said Levy-Pounds. Among the social media well wishers was Minneapolis City Council member Lisa Bender. “Lisa wrote that she also ran for office while pregnant, never second-guessed her decision and was thankful for her daughter. A lot of my Facebook comments were from women pleased with me balancing motherhood and politics.”
“I see it as a blessing no matter what. I don’t feel I should have to choose between politics and having a child before my biological clock stops ticking. In every other situation in my life I have made choices that I thought were in the best interests of my family, no matter what career or profession, no matter what somebody else’s timing might be. I wanted to have a child with my new husband. He’s 44, I’ll be 41 at the end of the month.”
As you will see in this Q&A, two of Levy-Pounds’ three children from her first marriage were born at times that would seem complicated, unless you relish multitasking as much as this civil rights attorney.
Q: What changes — if any — might you have to make, given that you are pregnant on the campaign trail?
A: On a day like today that’s 90 degrees, I’m not going out door-knocking. I have a dedicated team of individuals out there, led by my campaign manager Cathy Jones, who is also a working mother. When the weather is great, I go knock on doors in different parts of Minneapolis. People seem to love it. They’re always surprised when they see a candidate out there, and it’s great exercise for me and the baby.
Q: Do candidates for city offices not hit the campaign trail anymore?
A: That’s what people say. I enjoy it because it gives me insight into what people are concerned about and hopeful about for the city. Women have been mothers and workers and advocates and all of that since the beginning of time. For me it’s not all that unusual. I have three older children. I had my eldest child [now 20] when I was heading into my senior year of college. My second daughter [now 17], I was in the second year of law school. When I had my son [now 12], I was already a young law professor at St. Thomas. I really wanted another child and I wanted a child before the election so that if and when I become the next mayor of Minneapolis, I don’t have to take maternity leave. I feel the timing is perfect. There is an unintended aspect: giving people an opportunity to see me in a different light, my well-roundedness as a person. I went many years with people not knowing that I had children. Listen, we can be advocates and attorneys in the community and moms simultaneously. I think that’s important.
Q: The baby girl is due ...?
A: In August, but I am guessing I will have the baby in July. All my children have come early — one to two months early. I will probably take two or three weeks off, my standard practice. The longest time I was able to take off was when I had my son. I was able to take maternity leave from St. Thomas for eight months. Even then I started a small business. I was so used to being a multitasker while being a mom, and I didn’t grow idle during that time.
Q: Is there anything that concerns you about Minneapolis hosting the 2018 Super Bowl and just how much every resident will benefit?
A: There’s a lot of excitement. I think there is reason to be excited, but one of the main concerns that people often talk about is the potential for sex trafficking to go to the next level. That is what we have to be watchful and mindful of and have plans in place to protect the young women in our community. Beyond that, making sure people gain access to economic opportunity that flows from the Super Bowl and not just the usual suspects, not just those in the upper echelons who are well known in business circles but small businesses, women-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.”