What to expect when you’re electing

| Contributing Writer

The past couple years have seen a rise in youth involvement in politics. Many of us became well acquainted with our hometown politicians and political issues. But moving away for college brings many challenges, one of which is relearning local politics. St. Louis is a blue city in a red state, which lends itself to a variety of views on the political spectrum. From mayors to senators, here’s your basic guide to the politicians near the Washington University bubble.

Starting in the Senate

Senators Roy Blunt (Republican) and Josh Hawley (Republican): 

Roy Blunt will not be running in the next Senate election (2022), leaving his seat up for grabs. Josh Hawley, however, was just recently elected. Before being elected, Hawley served as Missouri’s Attorney General from 2017-2019 and before that worked in various areas of law. The far-right conservative and youngest member of the Senate has made headlines by being the first senator to object to the 2020 election results and saluting Capital rioters on Jan. 6th, 2020. Hawley is fiercely against Roe v. Wade and reproductive rights, sees China and the tech industry as the biggest threats to the U.S. and supports Trump-era immigration policies. He has criticized the Supreme Court’s decision to expand protections to LGBTQ+ workers, stating that it “represents the end of the conservative legal movement,” and he was one of 6 Senators to vote against the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act that would address the rise in hate crimes during and after the pandemic.

Josh Hawley (right) was elected to the Senate in 2018. (Photo courtesy of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Creative Commons)

Honing in on the House

Representative Cori Bush (Democrat):

There are 8 Missouri representatives in the house. Most WashU students live in the first district, represented by Cori Bush. Before entering politics, Bush worked as a registered nurse, a pastor and a Black Lives Matter activist. Her name became well-known as she joined “the Squad” (Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib), amplifying her work as an advocate for Black Lives Matter. She ran on a platform that championed LGBTQ+ and gender equality and called for immigration reform (including the abolition of ICE) as well as reforms to the criminal justice and prison systems. She is a firm supporter of Medicare for All, the Green New Deal and housing for all. On public safety, Bush centers community safety, investing in mental health resources and police accountability. She sponsored or co-sponsored almost 40 pieces of legislation in her first month on the job, “ranging from raising the federal minimum wage to improving voting access and paying reparations to Black Americans.” The first piece of legislation she brought to Congress was a resolution after the insurrection on Jan 6. for the “‘removal of the members who attempted to overturn the results of the election and incited a white supremacist attempted coup.’”

Rep. Cori Bush speaks at a protest in July 2020. (Photo courtesy of Craig Currie via Photo News 247/Creative Commons)

Looking Local

Governor Mike Parson (Republican):

Governor Parson assumed office in June of 2018 and his term will end in 2025. Previously he served as Lieutenant Governor (the Lt. Gov is now Mike Kehoe), and a member of both the Missouri House of Representatives and Senate. Currently, his website states he is focusing on building up infrastructure, bringing health care to rural areas and investing in law enforcement and public safety. He fought for 2nd amendment rights and the Missouri Farming Rights amendment while serving in the Missouri General Assembly. On COVID-19, Parson has promoted vaccinations but is staunchly against federal mandates. 

Gov. Mike Parson, pictured receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, has pledged to fight the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate. (Photo courtesy of the Missouri Governor’s Office/Creative Commons)

Secretary of State John (Jay) Ashcroft (Republican):

The Secretary of State is responsible for elections, administrative rules, record services and more. Additionally, Jay Ashcroft is in charge of authenticating the Governor’s acts. As the Elections Official, Ashcroft places a huge emphasis on stricter voter identification laws. In the past, he has argued that there is evidence of election fraud and has fought to implement photo-ID laws.

Jay Ashcroft is currently the Missouri Secretary of State. (Photo courtesy of the US Department of Education/Creative Commons)

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt (Republican):

Eric Schmitt was appointed to this office in January of 2019, replacing Josh Hawley. The Attorney General is the top legal officer in the state, offering legal advice to most state agencies. This office also oversees all challenges to state laws and defends the state in lawsuits. Eric Schmitt has announced he is running in the upcoming Senate election. He was recently endorsed by Matthew Whitaker, Trump’s former acting attorney general. He is running on a conservative platform to protect religious freedom and fight against the “radical left,” big tech and more.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt is Missouri’s Attorney General. (Photo courtesy of the US Department of Education/Creative Commons)

Auditor Nicole Galloway (Democrat):

Nicole Galloway is the only woman and only democrat to hold an elected state office in Missouri. As Auditor, her office’s job is to oversee the proper use of public funding, improve government efficiency and audit for potential fraud. During her time in office, Galloway has emphasized the importance of investigating fraud in government and then “holding those responsible accountable.” She has announced that she will not be running for any office in 2022.

Nicole Galloway currently serves as the Missouri Auditor. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Galloway for Missouri/Creative Commons)

St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones (Democrat): 

Last but not least, St. Louis has a new mayor. Tishaura Jones was inaugurated on April 21, making history as the first African-American woman to be mayor of St. Louis. She has always been a fierce advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement, and ran a progressive campaign. She hopes to create immigration resources to help new Americans get on their feet. On criminal justice and police reform, Jones hopes to fully close the Workhouse and invest those funds in mental health resources and community safety plans. She also wants to partner with LGBT+ advocacy groups and local pro-choice organizations to increase accessibility to abortion, reproductive services and other healthcare for everyone who needs them.” She states that she wants to focus on supporting and equalizing early childhood resources for “Black Women, women of color and poor women.” While new to office, Jones has big, progressive plans.

Tishaura Jones, pictured in 2017, was recently elected mayor of St. Louis. (Photo courtesy of Paul Sableman/Creative Commons)

What Can I Do From WU? 

WashU votes has some fantastic resources if you’d like to get more involved with get out the vote efforts, or even just get registered yourself! The Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement stores helpful information about WashU Votes and general voter engagement. Beyond just voting, if you are passionate about any of the other issues or platforms mentioned, WashU has numerous clubs that engage in such work. From College Democrats to College Republicans to the WashU Chapter of Planned Parenthood Generation Action, there are plenty of ways to be politically involved on and off campus. Click here to find out if you’re registered to vote.

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