When it comes to people who have a passion for making a difference in politics, a 2009 graduate of Ballard High School is one of the most motivated guys around.
Evan Burger, a senior organizer for Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, said he grew up in a political family, “but Occupy Wall Street and its message of taking on economic inequality is what really got me politically active,” he noted. “After that, I discovered organizing through CCI, and I’ve been hooked ever since.”
Burger, who grew up outside of Huxley, left Story County after high school and headed to New York to attend Columbia University, where he studied philosophy. Since his college graduation, he’s held a number of jobs, all in the realm of politics.
“I was first hired at CCI in 2013 as a rural organizer. Then I worked as an organizer for the United States Student Association, as the Iowa advance director on the Bernie Sanders campaign, and now I’ve been back at CCI for a year as a senior organizer,” Burger said.
In his current position, Burger said there are two main pieces to his job. First, he said, is “to lead up our electoral work, and (second) to act as the point person for Story County and Polk County.”
Burger said he loves that he works across all issues. “So on any given day, I might be organizing around clean water, or immigrant rights, or raising the minimum wage,” he said.
As shown when he led a meeting last week in Nevada, Burger has developed relationships with local politically minded people and interacts with many of them on a first-name basis. He said this is because they gather often.
“I’d estimate we hold meetings in Story County once a month on average. And a lot of Story County CCI members come down to Des Moines for events, like lobbying legislators at the capitol or our annual convention,” he said.
Speaking of that annual convention, Burger is very excited about what’s in store for the July 15 event this year.
“It’s going to be a great event this year,” he said. “I’m very excited that Bernie (Sanders) is coming back to Iowa to speak as our keynote, and it’s shaping up to be our biggest convention ever.”
For the convention, which will celebrate “Revolution Iowa: From Protest to Power” and will be held at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Burger is in charge of the press plan, coordinating with the venue and organizing one of the workshops (a panel discussion about doing politics differently), among other things.
Among those in attendance will likely be CCI’s almost 4,000 dues-paying members, 250-300 of them from Story County, plus a number of other people who, Burger said, attend CCI events but aren’t dues-paying members.
Burger said he loves what he’s doing and the thing he enjoys most about his work with CCI is the members. “I’ve met so many inspiring, powerful people from across the state through CCI, and there’s a really strong feeling of community,” he said.
He’s also very excited about the electoral work that CCI Action is doing. “We’ve been endorsing candidates for a few years … but now we’re taking the next step by recruiting and training candidates. I think it’s going to be a game-changer.”
As for staying in Iowa, Burger said he and his fiance, Erica Weeks (also a 2009 graduate of Ballard High School), settled down about two years ago in Slater, which they find to be a great community. “Erica and I are here for the long haul,” he said.
Any readers who are interested in learning more about CCI can visit its website: www.iowacci.org; and if you are interested in registering for the July 15 convention, go to www.cciaction.org/july15.