VIENNA — Angie Dunlap, who is President of the League of Women Voters of St. Louis, told those gathered for the Annual Truman Day dinner, that she is a cheerleader for democracy. She said the …
VIENNA — Angie Dunlap, who is President of the League of Women Voters of St. Louis, told those gathered for the Annual Truman Day dinner, that she is a cheerleader for democracy. She said the most important part of a democracy is for the voices of all of the people to be heard, which is done through voting.
Truman Day was sponsored by the Maries County Democratic Committee and was held at the Eagles Club in Vienna last Monday evening. Harry S. Truman, a lifelong Democrat, was the 33rd President of the United States, and is the only US president from Missouri, serving from April 12, 1945 to Jan. 20, 1953.
Dunlap was the featured speaker for the event. She was introduced as “a local girl” by Committee Chairman Darrell Schulte. Her father, David Honse of Vienna, was at the event.
Dunlap said her message is that there are two ways good people make democracy work—accessible voting and initiative petition.
She said she is indeed a local girl with roots in the community and many relatives in both the Maries River and Gasconade River valleys. She said Maries County people are good people. She went to school at UMR, now Missouri S&T in Rolla, and found there were good people there. Her husband, Terry, is from Mexico, Mo. where there are many good people. Everywhere they lived they were welcomed and they found good people, even in other counties of Mexico and France, they were among good people. Now they live in suburban St. Louis where there are many good people.
Voters in areas that are urban, suburban, rural, east coast, west coast, southern and even other countries, Dunlap said that regardless of who you are “we all want the same things.” They want a home, access to health care, good schools, jobs, to be able to save money. “There is no shortage of people with similar wants,” she said. They may not all think the same way as some of them have different ideas about how to meet the needs of our society. Some fear imaginary villains such as saying our elections are not secure and passing laws that restrict voter access to voting. Many of these laws began to come about following the 2020 election.
The League of Women Voters is bipartisan and believes every person has a right to feel comfortable and have the ability to participate in the democracy by voting. “Our nation is stronger when all of the people can vote,” Dunlap said. Our government is of the people, by the people, and for the people.
There have been and currently are legislative efforts to restrict voting, to take away the security and accountability. Voting needs to be secure but inclusive and to truly represent the whole nation, she said. “Limiting eligible voters does not promote accessibility.” It is important all voters who want to vote are able to do so. Inclusion and accessibility lets elections reflect the will of the people by ensuring all voters are heard and their votes are counted. It is important that all are able to participate and that the election systems are brought into the 21st Century.
Obstacles to voting lowers participation in elections. Citizens should not settle for more complicated rules that stop what people want because of voting barriers put in place. People need to be able to vote to have a voice in local, state and federal issues and candidates.
Dunlap said Missouri has voter accessibility issues. That week the legislature would be voting on HB1878 which creates more obstacles for voters. It would enact strict voter photo ID rules, which are expected to reduce voter turnout by two to three percent. She said for some people it is not true that an official photo ID is easy to get as the required supporting documents are harder for some people to obtain. This law will negatively impact senior citizens, minorities and women. She said many older persons will not know they can’t vote until they get to their polling site and are turned away because of the photo ID law. Thinking this law is needed is a myth. The secretary of state will not be required to do any education about the law. Why is the legislature making this law? Dunlap said it addresses an imaginary problem and its purpose is to deny voters their freedom to cast a ballot.
The other issue important to democracy is the ability of voters to use the initiative petition process when the state legislature fails to pass laws the citizens want. An example is Medicaid expansion, which the people of Missouri wanted but the legislature failed to even take up the issue. It was put on the ballot by initiative petition and approved by voters. That week the legislature was to vote on HJR79, which will require more signatures and passage on the ballot by two-thirds of the voters. Dunlap said if it passes it will make it “nearly impossible for voters to get” any issue approved. She said if the legislature passes this and puts it on the ballot, “Do not vote for this. It suppresses the voice of the people. Democracy works when we vote.”
“I am a democracy cheerleader,” she said. “People want what’s best for their communities. Together we have power to make a better democracy. It’s important that everyone has a voice in our democracy.”
Dunlap received a big round of applause following her remarks. Chairman Schulte opened up the program to Democratic candidates who were present at the event. They represented candidates in many districts in the state. Randi McCallian of Edgar Springs is running for Congress 8th District.
Tara Anura of Rolla is running for Missouri Senate District 16. She said Ozark people are resilient and have had to fight to survive. They need people who care about them in office. She said Medicaid expansion is an example, saying, “It’s not a democracy when the legislators ignore the will of the voters.” She said Democrats need to do all they can to get Democratic candidates and to get them elected. “Get out there and build that fire so we can thrive.”
Bernadette Holzer of Elk Creek is a farmer. She said the nation is too divided. There are good people everywhere and they should stop fighting and work together. There are plenty of issues needing work such as the drug epidemic and access to health care. The nation can lose its democracy by those who want to suppress voters and by telling lies that people believe. They need to work on the things that people want and need. These are issues that bring people together.
John Kiehne of Pacific is running for State Senate 26th District. He encouraged everyone to vote and to encourage others to vote, too. He said Missouri has a US Senate race coming and 10,000 votes could win the seat. He said Missouri needs more Democratic voters to show up to vote, and they will if they are motivated.
Jon Karlen of St. Charles is running for Missouri’s 3rd District Congressional seat, currently held by Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer. He said he loves Missouri but the landscape is marred by Republican politics. They are “tearing families apart at the border,” protecting banks, not upholding what they swore on the constitution to uphold, and don’t care if rural areas have access to broadband internet.
Chairman Schulte thanked everyone for coming and introduced county officials current and past and members of the committee. He said the Democratic Committee will be at the Relay for Life on June 17 handing out water and candidates will be there. The committee will have floats in the Belle and Vienna fair parades and will be tossing candy. There will be a free to the public ham and beans dinner on July 26. They also plan to have the fourth annual Chili Cook-off with an open class. The committee has other plans.
Those present enjoyed a steak or chicken breast dinner prepared by the Eagles.
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