After lobbying and making her voice heard behind the scenes of Missouri politics over the last few years, Kendall Martinez-Wright is making a bid for the HD 5 seat in 2022.
“I grew up in Palmyra, and I noticed that when it comes to rural communities, sometimes they can be overshadowed,” Martinez-Wright told The Missouri Times. “With me being a very blunt minority — African-American as well as Puerto Rican and trans — I want to show individuals that no matter how you identify or where you are, your voice should always be heard, and I feel like at the end of the day there are voices that aren’t.”
Martinez-Wright, who has worked for Empower Missouri and the Mid-Missouri Young Democrats, said her priorities in the statehouse would be education, infrastructure, agriculture, and accessibility for her community.
“Especially this year, when the pandemic hit, our communities and schools went to remote learning, and other areas of life were affected, I noticed that there is a real cry for help and to be heard,” she said. “We need to address underperforming schools, ensure businesses and agriculture are operating and sustainable, and provide reliable internet infrastructure so students and families can be successful not only now during the pandemic but in the future.”
Martinez-Wright said she hoped her run would encourage others to get involved with the democratic process, either on the ground level or from the statehouse.
“I wasn’t sure I was ever going to do this. It’s easy to battle with self-doubt, but after years of being active in the government and the community I realize we need people to be game-changers, especially young people,” she said. “We need to encourage involvement so people can understand how policy affects them on a personal level and how to engage. At the end of the day, it’s like what my mom told me: If you want to do something, don’t wait. You never know when you’ll have an opportunity again, and that’s why over the last few weeks I’ve been planning this.”
“I want people to realize that everybody is going through some sort of a struggle, and we need to ensure that we don’t turn our backs to our neighbor, but we try to lend a hand and be that support system,” she continued.
GOP Rep. Louis Riggs, who currently holds the seat, won a second term in November with no Democratic challengers. Riggs told The Missouri Times he intends to run again in 2022, saying he wants to “keep running until broadband is universal in rural Missouri.”
While the district has skewed conservative, Missouri’s legislative districts are set to be redrawn in the coming months. Voters approved Amendment 3 in November.