Although the names vying for the 61st House District seat may be familiar, the candidates are new to politics.
Democrat Pamela Menefee, 58, the wife of Washington Police Chief Ed Menefee, and Republican Aaron Griesheimer, 35, the son of longtime Franklin County politico John Griesheimer, are competing to fill the seat vacated by former State Rep. Justin Alferman, R-Hermann, when he joined the administration of Gov. Mike Parson in June.
Menefee and her husband reside in Washington, have been married for 32 years and have five daughters. This is her first foray into politics.
Griesheimer also lives in Washington with his wife of 12 years, Amanda, and their two children.
Why are you running for this office?
Menefee says we are a nation of builders, but lately she feels we do not reach our full potential as we did in the past.
“I decided that we need to return to our building roots and build things like better roads and bridges, better educational and health care systems, better protections and paychecks for hardworking Missouri families,” Menefee said. “We need legislators who have ideas and seek out the ideas of others. Legislators who look through the prism of what benefits all of us, and not just what benefits themselves or big corporations funding their campaigns. I know that I can be that kind of legislator.”
Griesheimer says he decided to run for the General Assembly to ensure that the community’s needs and priorities were well-represented in Jefferson City.
“I was born and raised in Washington and I care deeply about this community,” he said.
What, in your opinion, is the most important issue facing Franklin County?
Griesheimer feels the most important issue facing Franklin County is transportation.
“If we want to remain competitive with other counties, we must keep improving our infrastructure,” he explained. “While the Washington community has been very fortunate with the recent improvements to our roads and bridges, we still have serious congestion and safety problems with Highway 47 from Washington to St. Clair.”
Although Menefee agrees transportation and infrastructure are high on the list of voter priorities, after canvassing voters, she feels health care is at the top.
“If you don’t have insurance, simple illnesses and treatable conditions can become a life and death situation,” Menefee said. “It’s sad and, in my opinion, unacceptable that in the greatest country in the world, you can be given a death sentence because you can’t afford health insurance.”
What do you hope to change/keep if elected?
To strengthen health care, Menefee said, she would promote the expansion of Medicaid, change the funding formula for education, make sure there are programs in place to assist seniors on fixed incomes with prescription costs and bring broadband internet access to rural communities.
If Griesheimer is elected he hopes to strengthen the relationship between the community and its representatives.
“I intend to keep an open line of communication between my office and the citizens of Washington,” he said. “Rep. Alferman did a great job keeping local officials abreast of issues that affected the residents. I plan to continue that.”
Why should residents vote for you?
Open communication has become a theme in Griesheimer’s campaign message.
“I feel that a state representative should first and foremost be a public servant,” he said. “I promise to always be accessible and approachable to the citizens of the district and always keep the needs and concerns of the citizens ahead of my party.”
Menefee says it’s about trust.
“I understand how difficult things are for working families because I’ve lived through those struggles in both my professional life and my personal life,” Menefee said. “If the residents of the 61st District trust that I will represent them in Jefferson City and believe in me by giving me their vote, I’m not going to let them down either.”