JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A Missouri veteran is looking to take the fight for change to the Missouri State Capitol and hopes the path to doing so lies in the succession of outgoing state representative Clem Smith.

Jacob Walters is looking to represent House District 85 as a Democrat, and though this is his first time entering into any political race, he says he felt a need to get involved.

“I am a former newspaper columnist, who focused on local, and national politics,” Walters said. “I just felt like it was time to stop writing about the changes that are needed, and try to bring about the changes that are desperately needed.”

Walters was born and raised in central Illinois and joined the Navy at the age of 17. While serving, he suffered an injury to his neck and is now a disabled veteran. After that, Walters accepted a job in the St. Louis area, where he and his wife fell in love with the area. He currently works as a field service technician on bank equipment, living in the district with his wife, Leah, and 19-month-old son, James.

As a veteran, Walters has served and says he knows how to fight. He also says he has seen government at its very best, and says that as a disabled veteran, the government does a great job working for them.

“But, too many of my neighbors are not having the government work for them, as they do for me. I can no longer stay on the sidelines, and allow that to continue. I am committed to rebuilding our state from the bottom up. I am committed to bringing about that change. A vote for me is a vote to take the fight to the establishment politicians in Jefferson City. “

If elected, Walters hopes to bring his passion to the Capitol and work for the people of the district by fighting for laws that directly and positively impact their day-to-day working lives.

“No one, who will be in this election, will have the passion to help the working class like me because I am part the working class. I wear work boots every day. I pack my lunch in a cooler, fill my thermos, get in my commercial van full of tools and parts, and put in an honest, blue-collar, day of work. I know what it is like to struggle to make ends meet. I know what it is like to try and give children a great childhood while trying to stretch every dollar. A vote for me is a vote to send a truly representative official to Jefferson City.”

Walters says that one of the issues at the top of his list if elected, will be raising the minimum wage across the state to $15 per hour.

“Hardworking Missourians base the entirety of their financial lives on earned wages. No single issue can have the dramatic positive effect on the day-to-day lives of Missourians like raising the minimum wage. We have hard-working Missourians breaking medication in half so they can afford some medicine and some food. We have hard-working Missourians choosing between groceries, and paying the power bill, to have heat in the winter. Enough is enough. We must raise wages, and we must do it now,” Walters said. “We cannot allow the rich, entitled politicians to leave their districts, go to Jefferson City, and hurt the people back home. Eric Greitens is a St. Louisan, and he recently reduced the wages on his most vulnerable neighbors, in St. Louis. I cannot think of a worse betrayal of the voter’s trust, than telling them that their labor is worth so little that they deserve a pay cut.”

Two other issues that are important to Walters would be fighting against right-to-work and working to protect women’s reproductive rights.

“The majority, in Jefferson City, is waging a statewide effort to make it more difficult for women to seek the reproductive health care that they need. This must be stopped, and we must acknowledge that our women should be in charge of their healthcare decisions, and not crusty men in Jefferson City,” he said.  “Finally, we must continue to fight the majority’s effort to weaken worker’s rights through right-to-work. Right-to-work is simply rich people fighting to reduce the power of the worker in the workplace. We must come together as a workforce, and elect leaders like me, who will expand worker’s power in the workplace. Our country is a democracy, and it is high time that we stop allowing our workplaces to be dictatorships.”

Walters also believes in the need for complete transparency and accountability in Missouri government. Following news of the usage of apps sending encrypted messages last week, the Democrat took to social media, saying “When I’m elected, I will keep every email, and every message sent or received. I will also write a public report on every vote that I cast. Every voter will know exactly why I voted the way that I did. Transparency is the only way to serve honestly.”

The primary election will be held on Aug. 7, 2018, and the general election on Nov. 6.

Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email benjamin@themissouritimes.com or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.