The Green Party has gathered enough signatures to get on the Nov. 8 ballot in Missouri, and that’s added a candidate to what was an uncontested race for local Missouri House seat.
“I hear all the time, ‘I’m tired of the two-party system, I’m tired of the two-party system.’ We’re all tired of the two-party system,” said Valorie Engholm, certified this week by the Missouri secretary of state’s office to appear as a Green candidate in the 19th District.
She faces Democrat Ingrid Burnett, who narrowly defeated Manny Abarca IV in the Aug. 2 Democratic primary. Both Burnett and Engholm live in northeast Kansas City.
No Republican has filed in the district, which is mostly in northeast Kansas City but also reaches into the Englewood, Maywood and Fairmount parts of northwest Independence and parts of Sugar Creek. The current representative from the district, Democrat John Rizzo of Kansas City, is running for the state Senate.
The Green Party gathered more than the 10,000 signatures it needed to get onto the statewide ballot by petition.
“It was very exciting, to say the least,” Engholm said.
The party will have 14 candidates on the ballot, from presidential candidate Jill Stein to half a dozen candidates for the Missouri General Assembly.
Engholm, a teacher who is wrapping up her master’s degree in education, said her main focus in Jefferson City would be schools.
“I really believe education is the path to having a better society and a better state,” she said.
She also said the economy needs attention, that the number of homeless people is up and more people are working a second job to make ends meet. She favors a $15-an-hour minimum wage but said she’d be open to compromise on that. She said crime and poverty issues are related.
“We need to create more jobs,” she said.
Engholm said the Green Party is working for a long-term presence in Missouri, giving voters an alternative to Democrats and Republicans.
“We want to get involved in the community” and have an impact locally and at the state level, she said.
She also said voters in the 19th District deserve more than an unopposed candidate in November.
“To me, that’s not democracy,” she said. “To me, democracy is having a choice.”
The Green Party also is fielding a candidate, Mike Diel, in the 6th Congressional District, where incumbent Republican Sam Graves is seeking an eighth term, running against Democrat David M. Blackwell and Libertarian Russ Lee Monchil. The district is mostly north of the Missouri River but also includes much of Blue Springs, part of Lee’s Summit and northeastern Jackson County.