The county courthouse buzzed with activity as the Democratic Club of Phelps County began setting up for the the annual ‘Kick-off Dinner’ on Thursday, September 22. Held in the multi-purpose area of the courthouse, members began arriving and were greeted by name as discussions began between members on future projects and the current political climate.

A potluck kicked off the event, allowing members of the club to mingle with political speakers at the event as well as well as current Democratic representatives in local Rolla government. Joel Kramme, president of the Democratic Club of Phelps County, spoke of other events the club orchestrates, such as the Christmas meeting held later in the year and the ‘Stump Picnic’ held in July.

Kramme, when asked about his reasoning for political involvement said “It’s part of my civic responsibility. “I look at it very much the same way somebody does when they run for office, except I’m not running for office, but I’m trying to get those people to vote, and in this case—Democrats.”

The mission of the club, Kramme said, is about getting people involved. “It's getting people pumped up about candidates, which is really what we are about, and we do anything we possibly can to get people to run for office,”he noted. But that’s really difficult in this day and age.”
Centered in Phelps County, a majority Republican owned area, Kramme joked that there is enough politics in everyday life. “Almost all of my friends are Republicans—that’s just the way it is. I try to let them know I’m a normal person with some different political views, and they understand that,” he said with a laugh.

 As members finished their meals and plates cleared, the event shifted into a more serious tone as discussions began.

Leading with a discussion by Shane Anselm, a representative of the St. Louis - Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council, Anselm defined and discussed the recent ‘Right To Work’ laws, and how its recent overflow of opposition  caused the proposition to be overturned. Anselm also discussed prevailing wage laws, which he showed concern over and gave informative examples to the audience of what the law could potentially do.

Following quickly after was Marcus Cloud to discuss monetary donations that could assist the club in their mission. “We’re not all that different from our Republican friends, by the way. We want Phelps County to be a nice place to live, we want it to be fun, we want it to be safe,” said Cloud. “They want the same thing. We just disagree on how to get there. We need to go out and tell people that, and ask for their support.”

After a brief recess, political candidate Ryan Dillon, running for state Senate, spoke briefly on his beliefs and platform here in Rolla. Kathy Ellis, candidate for the 8th congressional district, followed this talk with her mission and beliefs and why she feels the need to be involved in politics.

After Ellis’ discussion, former club president Janet McKean stressed the ideals of her political party in their outreach to all members of society. “[Democrats] stand for ordinary working people, poor people, the disenfranchised,” she said. They matter more to us than anything, and fairness is what I keep fighting for. Fairness in everything; educational opportunity, to have good medical care, to have a road that’s paved, to make a living wage so you can support your family.”

With the meeting adjourned and discussions concluded, McKean finished talks with why she continues to fight for her beliefs. “You can’t stop fighting—you’ve got to find the truth and you’ve got to fight for what you believe in,” McKean said. “I haven’t stopped. Maybe I need to stop, I’m 81 years old! But you can’t right wrong by sitting back and saying ‘I’m helpless’. I have too many friends in Rolla who are just sitting on the fence saying ‘Why should we even bother to vote, people are only going to vote for someone who has the ‘R’ behind their name. And I say ‘Well, you have to fight to break that’.”