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Missouri House District 156: Democrat Janis Beacham

Janis Beacham, the Democratic candidate for Missouri House District 161.
Photo submitted by Janis Beacham
Janis Beacham, the Democratic candidate for Missouri House District 161.

Janis Beacham is the only Democrat in the race for the 156th House seat. The Republicans running in the August 6 Missouri Primary Election are incumbent, Brian Seitz, and Carolyn Boss.

Welcome, Miss Beecham, and thanks for joining us.

"It's a pleasure to be here."

Tell us about yourself and why you feel you're a good candidate for the Missouri House of Representatives.

"I have a large, blended family with members who are — consist of a wonderful same sex marriage, members with severe hearing loss and a member with severe mental illness and a husband who's recuperating from a stroke. So I think I can relate to some of the issues that a lot of our people are dealing with in Missouri. My background consists of education. I have a PhD in education focusing on career and technical education, adult education, research and statistics and public administration. My experience in education consists of — I taught junior and senior high math and developed and implemented two national exemplary programs serving disadvantaged and handicapped students in career and technical education. One of those was in a Saint Louis, Missouri school district, the other in Harrisonville, Missouri. I've served as tech prep coordinator, linking Saint Louis area school districts with the Associated General Contractors Union apprenticeship programs in Saint Louis, Missouri. So I've had a varied background in education. I also have worked with business and industry and providing technical assistance and training for Fortune 500 companies, including General Motors, Nissan, Coca Cola, Waste Management, Management, Monsanto and about 10 or 15 more.

We are out of time, I'm sorry, for that question. So we're going to move on to the next. Which issues are most important to you and why?

"Okay. Reproductive rights probably is the most important because I feel like there's nobody that should have control over a female body. I truly believe in a woman's choice and believe that any kind of decision on abortion has to be between that woman and her doctor. Another issue is public funds for public schools. I'm very frustrated about the bills that have been approved, where money is going into vouchers and charter schools. That's taking away money from our public schools. It's expanding the unaccountable charter schools, and it's increasing vouchers benefiting the wealthy few. Our legislation hurts the quality and accessibility of education for 91% of Missourians attending local and public schools, and it's hitting our rural schools especially hard. This money is going to those people that already have their students in private schools, and they are getting these vouchers. This last legislation passed, Senate Bill 727, has increased the level of salary that a person or income for a household to utilize these vouchers. And we are outsiders..."


We've run out of time again. Why did you decide to run for office?

"I decided to run for office because I'm concerned about our democracy. I'm concerned about the extremists that are controlling our legislature and the whole state of Missouri. We've got to do something. Democracy is not a spectator sport. We all have to do our part. And I guess this is my way of doing my part and to make a difference."


What do you think makes your district unique, and how will you represent that in Jefferson City if you're elected?

"Oh, our district is awesome. We have the beautiful lakes and forests and hills and hiking areas and just awesome things like that. At the same time, we have Branson that has all the entertainment possibilities. And anyone can offer just about offer. And it's a combination of a wonderful place to live, plus a way of welcoming and appreciating people that come down for their vacations."


Running for office as a state lawmaker opens you up to a lot of scrutiny and criticism sometimes. Do you feel that the personal cost for you and your family are worth it and why?

"Oh, definitely. Somebody has got to stick up for the working person. Somebody has got to stick up for the woman that got themselves pregnant and has to make that decision whether or not to keep or to end that pregnancy. And we need to get government out of that decision. There's a lot of reasons I think it's important to run. I think quality health care, we just we're 46th in the nation in health care, and we're just not able to provide the kind of resources that our citizens need. And I would fight for that not only help, physical health care, but mental health care."


How productive do you think Missouri legislative sessions have been in recent years, and what would improve the legislature's productivity and effectiveness?

"I don't believe it has been very effective or productive, and that I don't see any positive things happening for our citizens. I think what would help would be to elect some people that are more open minded, more interested in the working-class people. Those people that are unfortunate — are in unfortunate situations and need assistance. Our travel and tourism area is growing, and I think we need to be a more positive place for those people. And we want to attract a lot of those people to come live and work in Missouri because we're a wonderful place to live and work."


What's something you would like to share with voters that most people might not know about you?

"Oh, gosh. I've worked on a lot of campaigns and, but I've never been, I've never run for office before. And so this is a new experience for me. I'm learning a lot. The learning curve is unbelievably steep, and, but I'm enjoying it and meeting a lot of wonderful people. And I'm truly interested in seeing positive things happen for those people in Missouri, especially in District 156, making it a better place for all of us to live and to raise our families."

Well, Ms. Beecham, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today.

"Well, thank you, Michele."

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.