A year ago, Kathy Ellis was like many others when it came to politics. She thought that anyone who wanted to run for an elected seat was completely crazy. However, on Saturday, she was the “crazy one” standing on a tree stump at a Lions Club Park pavilion telling Democratic supporters that she is running for U.S. Congress in 2018.

A year ago, Kathy Ellis was like many others when it came to politics. She thought that anyone who wanted to run for an elected seat was completely crazy. However, on Saturday, she was the “crazy one” standing on a tree stump at a Lions Club Park pavilion telling Democratic supporters that she is running for U.S. Congress in 2018.
Ellis was one of a handful of speakers at the annual Phelps County Democratic Stump Picnic sponsored by the Democratic Club of Phelps County.

Ellis said her idea to to jump into the political arena first occurred with the election of Donald Trump last year.
“I was depressed and had an incredible sense of powerlessness,” said the Jefferson County resident.

Her impetus to run for office was confirmed after she attended the Woman's March in Washington D.C. in January.
“I met some incredible people there who had similar concerns as me. I heard people's stories,” said Ellis who works as an addiction counselor and psychotherapist.

“As a social worker,  I realized that I  have many traits that are necessary as a public official. They need to be listeners and advocates for change. That's me.”
Ellis is hoping to take the seat of Missouri's  8th Congressional District from Republican Rep. Jason Smith who was elected to serve in June 2013. The 8th District is comprised of a population of around 660,000 people in the rural Southeast and South-Central counties of Missouri. According to Ellis, it is the eleventh poorest congressional district in the nation.

There were around 60 supporters at the picnic which included hot dogs, hamburgers, numerous succulent side dishes and a colorful display of red, white and blue. This year's turnout was small  according to organizers mainly due to this being a non-election year.

“Next year this place will be packed,” said organizer Bill Lindgren who serves as the Phelps County Democratic Chairman.

Ellis touched briefly on the topics of health care, education and jobs.
On healthcare she stated “We need a single-payer system,”  to a splattering  of applause. “ I keep hearing from folks, 'Don't take away my Medicare'. Instead, I say we need to expand it.”

She noted the importance of rural public schools to small communities and the possibility of combing healthcare with rural school districts.
In regards to work, Ellis wants to improve job training and get people back up on their feet.

Next up on the stump, was Ryan Dillon candidate for Missouri's 16th District senate seat. The district is comprised of the cities of Rolla, Camdenton, Fort Leonard Wood and Waynesville among other Mid-Missouri towns. Sen. Dan Brown, a Republican, currently represents the district, however,  his term will expire in 2018.
“This is the party of progress,” said Dillon, of Rolla. “You are here because you believe that tomorrow is going to be better than today.”
Dillon told the picnickers  that something needs to be done about the teen-heroine epidemic that has struck Missouri.

“Our current leaders are doing nothing,” he stated. “They are not even talking about it which proves further that they are out of touch.”
Dillon added that he wants to be part of the solution.
“I am running for the state senate because I believe good ideas transcend partisanship and that together we can achieve the solutions that are possible,” he stated.

Lingren wrapped up the event by giving a number of local political seats that will be open for election in 2018.  Among them are the Phelps County Clerks office, prosecuting attorney, treasurer and county collector. Next month t,he local Democratic club will host an informational meeting on those who are interested in running for office.

“If we can get Democrats into these ground-level positions, then we can work our way up the political ladder,” he stated.
Dillon summed up the event with a  message of gratitude.  “Thank you for standing up and speaking out. Thank you for joining all of us candidates on this journey. It is not an easy one and we need your support.”