Kenneth Lewis is the only declared candidate running for U.S. Senate against Richard Burr. On Friday he gave me an hour of his time for an in-depth, on the record interview. If, like I did, you had dismissed him as a political unknown, I encourage you to read further and take a longer look, if for no other reason than he raised $109,000 in 21 days.
Lewis is running for the United States Senate to ensure that the “arc of progress” that took his family from slavery to a Duke/Harvard education and a successful law practice is available now and for future generations. He said he has the background, the experience and the insights gained from each to represent North Carolina and to lead in the Senate.
His family story is a significant factor in Lewis’s decision to run for the Senate.
The arc of my grandmother being born on a plantation where her mother was a slave to the kind of opportunities that I and my cousins were able to have, shapes the way that I view the greatness of our country and also the needs of our country. I want to make sure that that arc of progress exists for our generation and for future generations and when I go to the United States Senate I want to lead on that issue. I want to lead on making sure that we preserve an opportunity for people to grow into the middle class and to stay in the middle class. The issues I will fight for will be centered around making sure people have that opportunity.
Lewis said he has worked hard to make a positive impact on other people’s lives through his profession as a lawyer and through volunteering his personal time.
As a business, or transactional lawyer, Lewis has worked shoulder to shoulder with a variety of businesses, but some of his most valuable work has been in the affordable housing arena. Lewis said he sought that area of practice out because he wanted to make sure that his skills were being put to use on behalf of things he cares deeply about. Through his work with non-profits, Lewis said he was able to see how the skills of an attorney could positively impact peoples’ lives.
Lewis has also given his personal time to organizations that he says are focused on providing access to the middle class to people who otherwise might not have that access.
One such organization is The Center for Community Self Help in Durham. Lewis said that in his 14 years on the board he saw the organization go from a really small North Carolina based community bank to a national model for community development banking. Self Help has also served as a model for fighting predatory lending practices.
For Lewis, the organization’s goals matched his personal goal to ensure the opportunity to grow into the middle class was there for others.
What they were working on that really caught my interest was making sure that capital was available to low wealth communities and making sure it was available on reasonable terms. They were providing capital to people who could use it to build businesses, charter schools - to build institutions that would sustain communities. They not only help themselves but they make the communities in which they live stronger and by extension make the North Carolina economy stronger and the national economy stronger.
Lewis served on the corporate advisory board for Action for Children and later joined the board itself. He said he was inspired to work with Action for Children because they had a very clear focus and message which was to make North Carolina the very best place in the country to be a child.
He also served on the board of Planned Parenthood.
I served on the board for many years and was very proud of the work that we did there to fight on behalf of women’s health and women’s reproductive rights.
Lewis was open and easy to talk with. While most professional journalists would cut a one hour interview down to two sentences, I'd like to provide you with more. Please join us tomorrow to learn more about how Kenneth Lewis will approach the electoral process and where he stands on some red meat progressive issues.
To donate to the Kenneth Lewis for U.S. Senate campaign please follow this link.