Dear Editor,

At a recent meeting a man approached me and asked me why I was running for state representative. I truly appreciated him asking the question and would like to share my answer with others in the 157th District who may have the same question. I told him it was because I want to represent the people of the 157th District and I think I can do a better job than our current representative.

I went on to tell him that I want to listen to community leaders, school superintendents and teachers, farmers, business owners and anyone else who wants to share their thoughts. I’ll use their input to help me make the best decisions. I’m not an expert in all those areas so I will need their knowledge and experience to help me make informed decisions. He seemed a little puzzled by my answer. I continued and told him that I had no personal agenda other than representing the people.

Maybe it seems odd to him that someone would go to Jefferson City without a personal agenda to push. My only agenda is to bring jobs to our area, help our schools give our kids the brightest future, help people struggling with addiction and mental health issues, support programs that help people choose to work rather than stay on welfare, and anything else that has a positive impact on the lives of Missourians through the lens of common-sense and fiscally responsible solutions.

Bottom line: A representative is hired to represent. Our American system is founded on that principle. If that’s an idea that puzzles some people, I’d politely suggest that their confusion is part of the problem I’m looking to fix. I think we’ve all seen enough of representatives wasting time and valuable resources with grandstanding and being showboats, rather than passing practical legislation that helps the rest of us get on with the job of making Missouri better. When I talk about bringing back some common sense to our politics, mostly I’m trying to encourage folks to stop rewarding politicians who never get off their soapboxes long enough to do the job they were hired to do.

If Lawrence County elects me to represent our district, I will carefully weigh the pros and cons of legislation that affects us. I will reach out to my constituents and listen to your concerns, because reaching out and listening are among the main responsibilities in a representative’s job description.

Karen Echols