St. Louisans race for congressional seat

Elise Keller
News/Opinion Editor

Cori Bush will run against incumbent Lacy Clay in August primary for representative of Missouri’s first district. Photo from Cori Bush

Missouri’s first congressional district includes St. Louis city and neighborhoods in north Webster and Rock Hill. Since 2001, Lacy Clay has been this district’s congressional representative. This August Clay will run against Cori Bush.

The August primary will determine which candidate will be on the ballot in November.

Both Democratic St. Louis natives focus on social justice issues. While serving in Congress, Clay has made advances towards civil rights, including the law he sponsored called the African American Civil Rights Network Act of 2017. This law required that there be a Civil Rights Network in the National Parks Service that is able to make sites that relate to the Civil Rights movement in 1939 through 1968 historical landmarks.

Bush has also led advances towards equality, including speaking at the Women’s March of Springfield, Missouri in 2017 and the St. Louis Women’s March in January of 2018. Bush organized and participated in demonstrations following the Jason Stockley verdict in September of 2017.

“I handled the Stockley verdict by trying to get the information before the verdict came down, studying up on it and trying to understand both sides. I have to always go with my gut as I think about the community as a whole. I think about where we’ve come from, and where the community is going, and where should I stand in that. For me, it was on the side of standing with the family, and standing on the right side of justice. Which is to say that black and brown people in St. Louis, trans people, have a right to life, a right to live a normal life like anyone else. We have a right not to be gunned down in the street, especially by those that we look to serve and protect us,” Bush said.

“I went out to protest there, and make sure our voices were heard. I continued to protest, day after day, to raise awareness. I organized protests, helped find resources during the protests, and stood. I helped people who were maced; I was there to help as a medic and whatever I could do,” Bush said.

Bush has been working to improve people’s lives her entire life. She is a nurse, a pastor, an early childhood educator. She’s also experienced things that she hopes to prevent other people from going through by being elected into Congress and making changes there.

“It’s a fight, but I’m used to fighting. I fought during Ferguson, I’ve fought in some other areas of my personal life, by being homeless and suffering through domestic violence and sexual assault. So many things, living through homelessness and all of that myself, I fight. I know how to fight and I’m not afraid to go to Congress and fight because the legacy that will come from that will be that the people of St. Louis won’t have to go through some of the things that we’ve had to go through,” Bush said.

If elected into Congress, Bush hopes to cause change in St. Louis by communicating better with the people in her district.

Bush said something Clay is not doing enough of as a representative is, “Actually being here, being present, sitting with us, getting to know us, being accessible to the people that you are supposed to represent, letting the people know that you are a part of us, that you’re with us, and that it’s our voice you’re carrying in Congress. That’s one thing I believe is truly missing.”

Bush feels she will have a big effect in Congress because she knows how to get things done.

“I’ve been able to see change happen here in St. Louis without any type of a title, without any money, without any clout or power behind my name, but I’ve still been able to make things happen and to affect real change here,” Bush said.

Though Bush is running for Congress for the second time, she has the support of two PACs (political action committees) that are both trying to simply get new people into Congress. PACs raise money for and promote candidates they support.

Julie Burchett said the first PAC, Justice Democrats, is, “primarily trying to find new democrats to run, and they want to get the old established democrats out because they don’t think they’re doing enough.”

“This other group called Brand New Congress, they believe the same things they’re the same as the Justice Democrats, they’re progressive they believe in all the same things; however, they want to endorse democrats, progressive republicans, or independents who will get together and try to get common sense legislature put through. Even though they’re progressive which is more democratic, if they find a republican  that they think is going to promote these common sense things that we need to get done, for example gun control, they’re going to give money to them,” Burchett said.

Overall, Bush hopes to focus on, “Quite a few things.”

“Economics is a big thing because St. Louis deserves good jobs. We deserve a livable wage. We deserve quality, affordable health care. We deserve affordable college. I believe in free state colleges and state universities. We don’t need to send our children to college knowing that they’re walking in with the burden of debt. I believe in fighting for $15, but I don’t even believe we should stop there. I believe that that’s a start.

“I’m fighting for universal daycare, universal pre-k, the rights of our LGBT community. I’m fighting for immigrant rights. I believe that there should be a path to citizenship for immigrants in this country. I support our Dreamers. I believe in investing in infrastructure. I’m definitely fighting for our veterans, making sure that they have the things that they need. I get to see so many veterans out on the streets that are unhoused. So not just veterans but all of our population. Making sure that they have adequate housing because our shelters aren’t taking care of our people enough right now. We don’t have enough space.

“Also women’s rights. I’m fighting for women’s rights. I want there to be more of an emphasis on victims of sexual assault and more resources to them to fighting against sex trafficking, not even just sex trafficking, human trafficking in our community,” Bush said.

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