Swing district candidate and lawyer mom of 6 in Jefferson, St. Louis Counties hits the campaign trail

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Knocking on doors in her community in her campaign to represent Missouri’s 97th House District has allowed Mary Elizabeth Coleman the opportunity to meet with potential voters and hear their concerns and priorities.

“Obamacare has made things really expensive for people, it had increased prices,” Coleman said. “I met a man who owned his own business, last year was a down year for his business and he made $27,000. He is paying premiums for his [family’s] health care and it is $7,000 a year of that $27,000. Now, his wife works as well, but that is a crazy percentage of their income.”

Those she has met with so far have voiced an emphasis affordable healthcare, education, protecting the rights of citizens, and protecting life. Knocking on doors has also helped Coleman face her fear of dogs — she was bitten once and had to get stitches.

She didn’t plan on running for office, but after stepping up, hopes to represent the values of the “beautiful,” “family-focused” community where she resides.

“[Our community] is very much focused on the long-term and doing what is right and what is going to be in the best interest of our kids,” said Coleman. “We want to make sure that the gifts we have been handed are preserved.”

And that’s an attitude she wants to take with her to Jefferson City. Coleman doesn’t know if anyone is ever prepared to transition to a lawmaker, but feels she has the experience to make the move.

“I have been a small business owner, I am an attorney, I am a mom, and I really care about the state,” Coleman said. “I do think I have experience that will help me…I think I have the skill set necessary. But I don’t know if anyone is every prepared for drinking out of the fire hose that is learning how to be a legislator.”

“I am wary of making these grand promises. I am fully committed to making sure our teachers get the resources they need in the classroom, making sure that education resources are available, and that we have an educated workforce coming forward.”

If elected, Coleman plans to read every bill, know the issues the House is planning to vote on, be responsive to constituents, and work for the betterment of citizens. She wants to “be part of finding the solution.”

She recognizes that to get business done for the state, working with other elected officials — whether you agree or disagree with them, whether you like or dislike them — in necessary.

“We have more women filing to run this cycle, not just at the national level but at the state level. Not just in the Democratic party but in the Republican party as well,” said Coleman. “It’s not just one side or the other… we all know how much is really at stake.”

She points to a study that showed businesses led by women outperform businesses led by males on every metric.   

“There is no reason that doesn’t translate into the political arena as well,” said Coleman.

Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University. Contact Alisha at alisha@themissouritimes.com.