MPW.72 / 2020 Standing Up for Change by Arin Yoon
Photographer
Arin Yoon
Team Lee

Story Summary

Joana Scholtz is the Democratic candidate for the Kansas House of Representatives in the 2020 election in District 40, a swing district suspected of being gerrymandered in recent redistricting. She is a Black veteran and the president of the local NAACP chapter running in a red state against Republican incumbent David French who won the last election by only 60 votes.

During a divisive national election defined by political upheaval and civil unrest, Scholtz’s grassroots campaign is driven by the need for social and political justice on a community level. She decided to run for office after retiring from teaching because there were no Democratic candidates in her district challenging the incumbent. In her words, “None of us (her campaign staff) are politicians. We are just citizens who want to make a change.” If elected, Scholtz will be the first Black person to hold the House seat in District 40.