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Back two years and some change, Richard Byrd (R-Kirkwood) died suddenly right after the end of the year’s legislative session.  Deb Lavender, a Kirkwood resident, took note of the news report because, for a couple of years, she’d been wanting to run for state office, wanting, as a Democrat, to have a worthwhile impact. 

So she called Valerie Starr, her committeewoman to ask about the process, and Starr asked her an appropriate question:  “Who are you?”  At the time, Deb had never even helped with a campaign, much less run for office.  Oops. 

Jane Bogetto got the nod instead and surprised everyone by winning the special election, the first Democrat to win that seat in fifty years.  Then last fall, Bogetto lost the seat.

 

Meanwhile, Deb had been gaining experience, both in campaigns and even as an intern at the statehouse.  She worked for Jane, Gen Franks, Judi Parker, Claire McCaskill, and Barbara Fraser, doing everything from making calls and canvassing to stuffing envelopes, looking up phone numbers, and entering data. 

In 2006, as Representative Fraser’s intern in Jeff City, she responded to constituents and did research.  Along the way, she learned what a painfully slow process it is to shepherd an idea to a signed bill. She saw how hard the Democrats in Jeff City worked:  in their offices, on the floor, at evening events and in additional hours spent networking and researching bills. 

They were, she said, “extremely available and very gracious with their constituents.”  By way of contrast, she remembers hearing a local man talk about being in D.C. and trying to get in to see his Republican representative, Todd Akin.  On the third try, he was getting frustrated and Akin’s secretary said, “Don’t take it personally.  He never sees anyone.”

Deb can’t wait to earn the privilege of returning constituents’ calls and working hard for them.  She now has the nod to try to unseat the Republican incumbent in district 94.

 She’ll have to work hard campaigning if she wants the privilege of working hard in Jeff City.  That Kirkwood seat, that’s a tough one to take.  But Deb says she’s always been a high energy person.  She’s a single parent for her twelve year old nephew and she owns her own physical therapy clinic, but she vows she has the energy to handle those responsibilities, run for office, and–she hopes–spend three and a half days of every week from January through May in Jeff City.  She is already busy networking and fundraising.

She’s the kind of Democrat progressives will want in office.  Her main concern is health care issues.  As a physical therapist she sees how many people are without coverage, sees the rising costs and the dwindling coverage to providers.  Deb notes that most people aren’t aware that health insurance companies have even higher quarterly profit margins than oil companies.

Education is the other issue close to her heart.  The discrepancy in the quality of schools for the rich and the poor saddens her.  Too many of us, she says, “are jaded to the phenomenal discrimination that happens in our educational institutions.”

Deb has always been pro-choice.  She respects the sincerity of those who believe life begins at conception but doesn’t feel they have the right to impose their morals on everyone.  She wants them to realize that we’ll get no decrease in abortions by limiting women’s birth control options or by denying children accurate sex education.

As for the new push to overturn the amendment providing protection in this state for stem cell research, Deb is dumbfounded by the arrogance of ignoring what the voters just settled last November.

If Deb Lavender sounds like someone you want to support, she’s waiting to hear from you.  So far, she has an army of two volunteers.  Needless to say, she’s looking for more.

To get in touch with Deb, call:

314-496-3323
314-821-6006

And then there’s money.  If you want to give her a financial lift right now, you can snail mail her a contribution:

Deb Lavender
P.O. Box 220571
Kirkwood, MO 63122

Otherwise, you can wait till her website goes up in a week or so.  I’ll announce the website address on this blog.