Local democrats host political fundraiser

The Southwest Missouri Democrats hosted the first inaugural Eleanor Roosevelt Days Banquet on Saturday, October 3 in The Billingsly Student Center’s Connor Ballroom.

The banquet, formerly known by Southwest Missouri Democrats as Jackson Days West, was a chance for local democrats to gather, eat, laugh, and listen to guest speakers discuss important policy issues. Local Young Democrats also provided reflections on the life and legacy of first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

“When we began discussing a name change, finding an honoree who embodied the ideals of the modern Democratic Party was important to us,” said Executive Director of the Southwest Missouri Democrats and Chair of the seventh Congressional Democratic District Krista Stark. “Our 32nd first lady was instrumental in creating an atmosphere of inclusion that the Democratic Party celebrates and the diversity that we are familiar with today. We are not the party of Andrew Jackson; we are much more the party of Eleanor Roosevelt. She would be particularly proud of Democrats in Southwest Missouri, we stand and fight in an area that is so red.”

Blocking enactment of right-to-work legislation as well as ensuring Medicaid expansion in the state were popular talking points throughout the evening. The event also included a live and silent auction to raise money for the organization.

Seventh Congressional District Primary Candidate and Chairwoman of the Newton County Central Committee Genevieve Williams delivered an impassioned speech urging the crowd to get involved in the political process.

“I’m frustrated; I’m beyond frustrated, hell you might even say I’m fed up,” she told the crowd. “I’m frustrated with our Congress, who has done everything in its power to obstruct the efforts of our President for no other reason than the sake of doing so. I’m frustrated because the Missouri House and Senate seems intent on waging war on the middle class, women, and the poor. I’m frustrated because many of these Republicans, whose party has turned into something resembling a hate group, will run for office unopposed.”

2016 Primary Candidate for Lt. Governor and 66th District Missouri House Representative Tommie Pierson delivered the banquet’s keynote address. Voters elected Pierson, former President of the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus and ranking member of the Secondary Education Committee to the Missouri House in 2010.

“Dr. Martin Luther King said, ‘Beware of catchy titles’ right-to-work is a catchy title that doesn’t mean what it says,” said Pierson. “We know right-to-work is wrong for Missouri.”

The average worker in states with right to work laws makes $5,971 or 12.2 percent less annually than workers in states without right to work laws. The rate of workforce death is also 54.4 percent higher in states with right to work laws according to the bureau of labor.

“We need to protect the health of Missouri families, that’s why we need to expand Medicaid, being able to see a doctor is a right, not a privilege,” said Pierson. “I want to encourage everyone to aim high. If we’re going to save our state from right-to-work we’ve got to aim high. If we’re going to expand Medicaid in this state we’ve got to aim high. If we’re going to take back seats in the house and senate and fix our broken education system, we’ve got to aim high.”