This week, Clayton Times had a chance to sit down with one of the candidates for Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District.
Kelli Dunaway, a Democrat, is seeking to challenge Republican Congresswoman Ann Wagner pending the results from the Aug. 7, 2018 primary.
Dunaway, who lives in Chesterfield, is the Assistant Director of Legal Professional Development at Bryan Cave and once served as a field organizer for Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign.
Clayton Times: What compelled you to run?
Dunaway: Because something has to change. There is something wrong with our politics, there is something wrong with the way we’re being represented. When I turn the TV on I have panic attacks, I feel like the America I’m seeing unfold before my eyes every day is not the America that I know and love and I want to help get us back on the rails.
Clayton Times: What separates you from the other Democrats running?
Dunaway: I think there a few things. Number one: If you stand us next to each other, I look very different from them. They are three straight white men who don’t own homes in the district, don’t have kids in the public schools in the district, and I think policy wise we’re probably pretty similar. But I think our experiences are very different. I think that I have an experience that’s much more unique and more qualified to represent a more diverse America.
Clayton Times: In your opinion, do you believe a progressive agenda would work in Missouri?
Dunaway: I believe that a progressive agenda is a good place to start. What I mean when I say that is that I think that a lot of politicians are so quick to move straight to the center that they continue to get pulled too far in the other direction. If each side starts where we believe we should be, then we have a lot more room to work our way toward the middle which is where I think the right solution exists.
Clayton Times: What’s the biggest challenge regarding running as a candidate in the state of Missouri?
Dunaway: I think money is a huge challenge. This is not just for Missouri but I think divisiveness in our political system makes it very difficult. I think it’s going to be difficult to be a woman in Missouri to run for office.
Clayton Times: Why do you feel like this since incumbent U.S. Sen. Ann Wagner is already in office?
Dunaway: Because I think she represents policies that make it more palatable to support a woman where as my policies or the things that are important to me, make it easy to attack me as a woman and a progressive.
Clayton Times: How would you rate U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner’s time in office and how would you improve on it?
Dunaway: I think that she is doing what she believes is best for the people supporting her. I do not believe that her policies are what’s best for America or what’s best for Missouri. What I would like to see is less support to the people who least need it and more support to the people who most need it. Two specific examples: I believe that when she voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act hurts the most vulnerable amongst us and I believe that voting to take away protections for consumers and give more protections to the banks also harms the most vulnerable amongst us. I think that it’s the responsibility of those most fortunate in life to take care of those who are poor and sick and vulnerable and that’s where my policies are different from hers.
Clayton Times: How would you rate President Donald Trump’s time in office?
Dunaway: I would rate it as really good for comedy. I don’t think he has gotten a whole lot of positive things accomplished, he has not been able to follow through with any of his promises and I’m grateful for that. I think that he is making things very difficult for people to work together and to truly make America great again because his behavior is so divisive, and mean, and angry, that I think he’s having a really negative impact on the way we view ourselves, the way the world views us, and our ability to interact and make positive change.
Clayton Times: Do you think the country is doing the right thing by removing some of the Confederacy statues around the United States?
Dunaway: I do, first of all, the statues are for traitors. The statues are glorifying people who led a revolt against the United States of America. It’s like we’re revering traitors. These statues have so long represented white supremacy and racism and I think they should come down. Now do I think that it’s ignoring history? Absolutely not, the Civil War is a part of our history, it’s a painful part of our history that we should all learn about so we can avoid making these same mistakes.