OK, I’m finally completely admitting that it’s autumn. I’ve been in denial. Besides the changing leaves and cooling temperatures, we have national and state elections in just a few weeks. This month, I am delighted to interview Democrat Greg Razer, an openly gay man who is running for state representative of Missouri’s 25th District, which consists of a portion of Kansas City, Mo. Besides his interest in politics, Greg is also a huge sports fan (and I’ll have to forgive him for being a big Mizzou fan – Rock Chalk!).
Remember: No matter where you live, get out and vote! It isn’t just a right; it is an obligation.
1. What led you to run for office?
I have been involved in public policy and politics throughout most of my adult life. Most recently, I have spent eight years on staff for U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill. It has been an honor working for her, and I was not looking for a change.
However, I was approached and was asked to run for this seat when it came open. [Democratic State Rep. Jeremy LaFaver did not run for re-election.] After quite a bit of soul-searching, I decided it was the right time in my life to run for office. I also felt, as an openly gay man who has lived and worked in both rural and urban areas of our state, that I have a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities that we face and that perhaps I could use that perspective to make positive change.
2. On your webpage (http://www.gregrazer.com/greg), you mention that Missouri is facing some significant issues. Could you please explain what you feel these issues are for our readers who may not have visited your page or had the opportunity to see you speak?
Our state has many issues that need to be addressed. Issues that have been discussed over and over, and that most people are familiar with. Issues such as Medicaid expansion, blocking divisive legislation (such as last year’s anti-LGBT bill, SJR 39) and the continued economic border war between Missouri and Kansas. Unfortunately, with a legislature controlled by the right wing, accomplishing many of the progressive goals we set may prove to be difficult.
With that in mind, I am looking forward to working on tough issues where I believe we can find some common ground.
For example, Missouri needs a long-term funding solution for infrastructure. Whether you are driving across the state on I-70 or over a bridge on a small rural road, you know that we have significant deferred maintenance – and it is time for the General Assembly to make the tough decisions on how we will address this going forward.
We must also stop the constant budget cuts to higher education. Our public colleges and universities are also a part of our infrastructure that we must maintain at the highest level. Our investment in the University of Missouri in Columbia can help scientists there who are involved in an array of activities of global importance – from groundbreaking research that could lead to a cure for cancer, to plant-science research that will provide the food to feed the world in the future, all while supporting our state’s No. 1 industry, agriculture.
Closer to home, our investment in UMKC will provide not only a world-class education for the students, but also a sustained economic boost to the city, region, and our state as a whole. For example, state support for the building of the new UMKC Conservatory in the Crossroads district will bring a constant influx of young, artistic, vibrant people to downtown for decades to come. It would be what some have called a “perpetual fountain of youth.”
3. You’re in the last few weeks of your campaign. What does an average day now entail?
My days could involve a wide variety of activities. I still have my day job working for Sen. McCaskill, working with community leaders in Kansas City and throughout northwest Missouri on her behalf. After work, I may be attending a meet-and-greet, a fundraiser, or out knocking on doors and talking to voters. Also, since I am unopposed on the November ballot, I have been able to spend some time visiting with community leaders about their priorities and what they would like to see happen in the upcoming legislative session.
4. You have worked on a number of campaigns, which helped you to understand to a degree what you were getting yourself into when deciding to run. What other experience do you bring to the table?
The fact that I have spent my life living and working in both urban and rural Missouri should give me the perspective to understand the importance of issues to the state as a whole. For example, I believe strongly in the importance of public transportation, and we have all witnessed the remarkable response to the new streetcar line and the economic development that it is spurring. I also know the importance of the OATS bus to our rural citizens. [The nonprofit OATS Inc. provides transit services to 87 Missouri counties.] It is something my own grandmother used on a weekly basis in order to get to the grocery store, pharmacy – not to mention the social interaction that many in isolated communities may feel. Streetcars and the OATS bus – I recognize that both are important to the citizens of our state.
5. How are you able to reach out to young voters?
Social media is a great tool for reaching a wide range of people, but younger constituents in particular. I am obviously on Facebook, but also Twitter (@gregrazer) and Instagram (greg_razer). … I have some fun ideas for interaction with constituents once I’m in office.
I also enjoy good old fashioned meetings and discussions. Whether meeting one-on-one at a coffee shop or speaking to a class, club or group, I’m always happy to come and speak to young people about current issues and how they can get involved.
6. I understand that you are a major sports fan. Do you primarily cheer for our local teams, or are there other teams that you also follow?
Primarily our local teams – the past couple of years being a Royals fan has obviously been amazing.
My primary sports passion, though, is Mizzou Athletics. I’m a huge fan of all Tiger sports and proudly serve on the board of the Tiger Club of Greater Kansas City. M-I-Z…
7. Who are you cheering for in the baseball post-season?
That’s a tough one – I have dear friends in D.C. and would love for their Nationals to win. Same goes for friends in Chicago and even up in Canada. I guess I’ll just sit back, enjoy the games and wait for spring training to start.
8. Do you play any sports? If yes, which sports? And if no, why not?
Oh no, I’m not at all athletic. Just a gene my parents did not pass on to me!
9. What has been your favorite memory in a sport outside of last year’s Royals baseball season?
2010 Mizzou vs. Oklahoma football game. It was Homecoming in Columbia. Oklahoma came into town ranked No. 1 in the nation. ESPN College GameDay broadcast that morning from the Quad, and the game that night was shown nationwide on ABC. The opening kickoff went to the Tigers, who ran it back for a touchdown. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a stadium louder than Faurot Field at that moment. Of course, Mizzou went on to win the game, making it one of the most perfect sports days I’ve ever experienced.
10. OK, one fun question. What would be your dream sporting-event ticket and with which teams? (This might be the toughest question!)
Oh, this is the easiest question: My dream ticket is to the college football national championship game – to watch our Missouri Tigers win it all!