JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. – Coming off an impressive state Senate primary performance against a field of established candidates, state Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman is knocking on more doors than opportunity does.
“People are juggling a lot of different things, like just trying to get dinner on the table before running your kids to soccer practice,” Coleman told The Heartlander. “And they may not necessarily have time to reach out to the candidates, so going to their door is what’s most important to me.
“It’s not flashy, but I think if you’re asking someone to trust you with their vote, you have to be willing to go to their door, meet them and hear about what’s important to them.”
From those conversations with constituents of Missouri’s 22nd Senate District in Jefferson County, Coleman reports people are increasingly worrying about inflation and the rising prices of just about everything.
“I think it’s easy to talk about inflation when you’re among people who are really wealthy or successful,” Coleman said. “But for families who are working very, very hard and doing everything they can, that rising cost is their entire spending margin. So, there is no more buffer. There is no more extra money for birthday parties or Christmas. It’s all going into the rising costs of food, rent and energy.”
One of Coleman’s top priorities if she’s elected to the state Senate is helping families stay afloat while costs and interest rates continue to rise. To combat the flailing economy, she believes conservative policies such as deregulation of small businesses and lowering taxes to keep more money in Missourians’ pockets are a good place to start.
“I’m really focused on helping Jefferson County families. Our building block of society is the family, and so helping support them while they’re trying to support themselves is really important to me,” Coleman said. “It seems like we’ll sometimes lose the thread about what’s most important when people are working in the Capitol. So [helping families] is the thing that I’ve really been laser-focused on as a representative, and I’ll continue to do that in the Senate.”
The second-term state representative said people also are concerned about the “Biden border crisis,” and believes the unprecedented amount of drugs coming through the border bleeds into and hurts all communities, including Jefferson County.
Fueled by her determination to hear from constituents across the district, Coleman says her campaign has knocked on nearly 60,000 voters’ doors and credits that groundwork for her commanding win in the August primary election.
Coleman received 34.9% of the vote in the primary, besting three notable candidates who had all either held elected office before or are currently in office. State Rep. Dan Shaul received 23.3% of the vote, state Rep. Shane Roden received 17.8% and former state Rep. Jeff Roorda gathered 24% – giving the lone woman in the race a comfortable 10+ point victory.
“I think part of that is not focusing on the other candidates, but focusing on why I was running and focusing on the voters themselves,” she said. “I just don’t think anything can substitute meeting a voter at their door, so our real focus was knocking on every door that we could.”
Although this campaign is for a new office she hasn’t yet held, Coleman said her past door-knocking efforts featured some familiar faces when she hit the neighborhoods this time around.
“My constituents that I’ve been representing, I would knock on their door and they’d say, ‘Hi Mary Elizabeth! Come in and have a cup of coffee,’ or ‘Let me pray over you’ or ‘How have you been?’ because I’ve been knocking on their door for the last five years.”
When asked about the current special legislative session, Coleman commended Gov. Mike Parson’s leadership for calling it and believes lowering taxes should be on everyone’s priority list, because “it’s so important that Missourians are able to keep more money in their pockets as expenses continue to spin wildly out of control.”
However, she also noted the difference between bills filed by Democrats and bills filed thus far by Republicans – the latter of which she says have mostly focused on Parson’s priorities of lowering taxes and extending agriculture tax credits.
“I think you’re seeing the strong contrast between the two parties based on the bills they’ve filed. The Republicans have filed bills to keep Missourians’ money in their pockets and to support the industries that are growing our economy, and the Democrats are filing radical bills on social issues.
“You can just see a really stark difference between the people who are interested in governing, and the people who are interested in grabbing headlines.”
Coleman will be facing Democrat Benjamin Hagin in the general election Nov. 8.