As a lifelong Democrat and now a high schooler, I have realized just how many of us there are in St. Louis, especially in the Trump era and the recent rise in youth activism regarding gun violence. Thus, St. Louis now has an organization dedicated to high school Democrats. We have had several meetings, met with many elected officials and public servants, and, on Saturday, July 14, endorsed five races in the upcoming August 7th primaries. This was a great way to get involved in the upcoming election and make your voice heard.
The races included US Senate, Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District, St. Louis County Prosecutor, Missouri House District 79, and Missouri House District 81. At the meeting, the Democratic candidates of in these races each spoke for a few minutes and then answered audience. Afterwards, the high schoolers voted on whom they wanted to endorse.
The results were: Claire McCaskill for US Senate; Cort VanOstran for Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District; Wesley Bell for St. Louis County Prosecutor; Lakeysha Bosley for Missouri House District 79; and Travis Estes for Missouri House District 81.
The members of this organization have since campaigned for the endorsed candidates by knocking on doors, calling voters, and writing postcards. Of course, there has been much social media outreach as well. High schoolers love Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, posting their support for candidates, and the candidates have made the endorsements evident on their pages.
Endorsements have become a bigger and more intense part of campaigns and races. Candidates strive to get as many endorsements as they can and then remind voters of them often. With this engagement, and with the desire to reach out to young voters, candidates in many of Missouri’s races wanted St. Louis High School Democrats’ endorsement. This competition for endorsements adds another level to a race, and endorsements can make or break a vote.
Claire McCaskill’s campaign sent a representative, and we endorsed her as the Democrat for US Senate. As for Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District, the Democrats who attended the meeting were Cort VanOstran, Mark Osmack, and Bill Haas. Most of their discussion focused on democratic ideals and defeating Ann Wagner. VanOstran talked about healthcare, Osmack about military experience and spending, and Haas about third grade reading levels and a violence prevention hotline.
Wesley Bell represented the St. Louis County Prosecutor race, while Bob McCulloch has again not showed up to a forum and meeting he has been invited to.
The other races were for two house districts that are both part of St. Louis City, 79 and 81. For the 79th district candidates, Lakeysha Bosley spoke about being a woman and representing the district, and J.P. Johnson talked about his experience in politics as an intern and field organizer. In the 81st race, Travis Estes noted that he is the only pro-choice candidate in the race and also that he has experience in the tech world and will use this to implement policy, such as gun registration. Steve Butz was not in attendance, but his campaign manager was. She talked about his views, morals, and experience.
The best part of this meeting was that Democrats were able to come together and talk about what is needed, especially in Missouri. We high schoolers were able to have a voice and be involved in these races, even though most of us won’t be able to vote.