COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The shape of the new 50th District might mean a change in the party that represents the district.
The district had included southern Boone County, which leans more conservative than Columbia. But now the district includes southern Columbia and more voters who traditionally vote Democratic.
Political newcomer Douglas Mann hopes he can translate those demographic changes into a win in November.
Marissa Hollowed: Tell viewers a little about yourself.
Douglas Mann: So I'm a former high school history teacher and I currently work as a civil rights attorney here in Columbia, focusing on employment discrimination and discrimination in education. My wife and I moved here so that I could attend Mizzou Law. And upon graduating, we decided to stick around because we had fallen in love with the area and decided this was good way to serve the community.
Hollowed: How will the new 50th District boundaries affect the race?
Mann: So this seat is currently held by Sarah Walsh was a Republican, and the redraw drastically changes the outlook of the actual district itself. Right now, the district is about 54% Democrat, which means that our race has, our campaign has a very good chance of winning, but we still have to put in the work. So that's why we're out on the doors every single day, talking to voters, figuring out what's important to them, and trying to convince them that we're the best option.
Hollowed: So you were telling me during the break, you took a break from your day job just to be out campaigning.
Mann: Yes. So I took six weeks off of work, I'm lucky to have an employer who is so supportive of my endeavors, and decided to allow me to take six weeks off. So now I'm out there knocking doors three times a day, knocking 150-200 doors, talking to all those voters and trying to convince them that we're the best option come November.
Hollowed: How can Democrats influence public policy as a minority in the state legislature?
Mann: Well, one of the goals right now is to break that Republican supermajority. One of the things that we're stressing to voters on the doors is that a supermajority regardless of party only leads to more polarized and more extreme policy. So if we can break that supermajority, then Democrats will have a better seat at the table. We saw that this last session, with more Republicans having to leave due to like scandals and things along those lines. The Democrats broke that supermajority and had more of a say, where they were able to actually influence policy.
Hollowed: What can lawmakers do to combat discrimination in Missouri?
Mann: So discrimination is something that I work on day in and day out. And there's lots of holes. Right now, the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, it's under-resourced. And if we were to increase their funding, they want to have the backlog that they currently have. And that would make the time for my clients much easier. Because they wouldn't have to deal with whether or not the commission is actually going to be able to look at their case, whether or not the commission is going to be able to issue that right-to-sue letter on time. Also filling in a lot of the holes that currently exist within our anti-discrimination laws. We just recently put sexual orientation and gender identity and fixing some of those other holes would be huge.
Hollowed: How can lawmakers expand access to health care?
Mann: So right now, access to health care is one of the top issues for me in my campaign, one of the things that I would like to see done is for nurse practitioners to be able to practice to the extent of their training, we're one of the few states that don't allow nurse practitioners to actually practice by themselves, they have to have a doctor that oversees them. There's distance requirements, things along those lines. But if we were to allow nurse practitioners to practice to the full extent of their training, then we would see an increase in access in primary care, which would reduce the need for care later on, because you're taking care of those problems when they start and not waiting for them to become severe.
Hollowed: What else do you want viewers to know about you and your campaign?
Mann: This is a campaign that's looking to represent everybody. I understand that when I win, there's going to be a large section of the populace that didn't vote for me. But I'm still open to listening to them, getting their viewpoints. And while we may not agree on 100% of things, I'm interested in those, that percentage of things where we can find common ground. I feel like right now, in our politics, we focus a lot on things that divide us and not the things that bring us together. And I feel like it's time that we start focusing on those solutions that we can actually come together for.
Hollowed: Any other topics that we haven't touched on today that you find important to talk about?
Mann: Just if people are interested in learning more about me or the campaign they can visit mannformo.com That's for the word, not the number. And we're always looking for volunteers. Get out there and help us knock those doors.