UMKC graduate student Valorie Engholm held a campaign kickoff event in Budd Park last Friday. Engholm, who received her Bachelor’s degree in History from UMKC and is currently finishing her Master’s degree in Education, is running as a Green Party candidate for the House of Representatives in Missouri District 19.
“I’ve always been an activist, ever since high school. I remember starting a petition so that girls could play on our football team. I always have tried to fight for the little guy,” said Engholm. This is her first time running for public office.
“I volunteered with the Green Party while I was in college, and then they kind of went away for a little bit. That made me feel lost politically. This year the Green Party has reformed in Missouri and gotten on the ballot. They needed someone to run in my district, and I thought this was the ultimate activism. This is a way for me to be a real activist and make a real difference in the lives of the people in my state and in my neighborhood,” said Engholm.
Her decision to run for office stems from dissatisfaction with the current political landscape on a local and national level and a desire to shake up the traditional two party system.
“One thing that bothers me is that you see a lot of lawyers, career politicians, and business people getting into politics. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, we need those people. But there’s not a lot of teachers, or scientists, or doctors,” said Engholm. “I’m not doing this as a politician. I’m doing this as a community member.”
Like many progressives, Engholm was disappointed when Bernie Sanders lost the Democratic primary. The Green Party is trying to capture that voter disillusionment and channel it into fighting the two-party system.
“This is what Bernie wants,” said Zay Thompson, who serves as the area coordinator for the Green Party. “He wants progressives elected down ballot.”
Thompson believes that the Green Party platform will appeal to college students in particular. Cancelling student debt, fighting for social equality, raising the minimum wage, ending war and violence, and protecting the environment are among the party’s top priorities.
Thompson was in attendance at the campaign kick-off helping Engholm spread information about her campaign and the green party’s efforts throughout the state. Also in attendance were friends, family, and community members.
Elyse Max, also a graduate of UMKC, was at the event supporting Engholm. “I support Valorie because she represents a fresh approach to leadership. She’s a good listener who can actually do some good for the community,” said Max. “I think that we need Green Party ideas in Jefferson City.”
Students interested in volunteering for the Engholm campaign or learning more about the Green Party can find information at www.voteforvalmissouri.com.