Julie Joplin visited with Krista Stark, executive director of the SWMO Democrats, to get the full scoop on the organization’s goals, its history, and how to get involved.

They meet the third Wednesday of each month at 7 pm at 2001 Empire Avenue in Joplin.

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Krista Stark selfies with some SWMO Democrats!

What is the primary purpose or goal of the SWMO Democrats?

We work to provide a place where area Democrats can come together and meet like-minded people.  We inform each other about issues and work toward good legislation, both in Missouri and in Washington.  We work for Democrats in Jasper, Newton, Lawrence, Dade, and McDonald counties.

During campaigns we work hard, calling on voters to realize the importance of their votes and to agree to go to the polls on Election Day.  We work equally hard during those periods between elections, when we can bring more people into the group, expand our influence, and above all educate the public about issues.

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Can you tell us some specific current or short term goals that the group has?

Our most important goal continues to be reaching out to local like-minded citizens. We will continue to work toward a Southwest Missouri where Democrats do not feel isolated and alone. We also work toward persuading voters that progressive legislation on a state and national level is in their best economic and moral interests.
Southwest Missouri Democrats has worked on many issues in the past 5 years, but the two issues we have devoted the most time to continue to be: middle class economic interests and healthcare for Missouri Citizens.

In the short term we will continue to work on the following issues:

-Defeating harmful Right to Work by collecting signatures for the upcoming citizens veto

-Advocating for Equal Pay for Equal Work in Missouri

-Persuading legislators to finally pass MONA in the Missouri Legislature

-Calling for Medicaid Expansion for Missouri in our Missouri Legislature

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Why should people join? 

Our committee votes in Town Hall format to work for Democratic causes and for or against legislation and petition initiatives in Missouri. SWMO Dems gives Democrats a place to have a voice in our RED area. It can be isolating to believe you are “the only liberal among conservatives.” This is how many in Southwest Missouri feel. We offer a place for people to go to vent their frustrations about living in an area that does not always seem to value progressive thinking.

We engage in political and social education in many forms.  We have monthly meetings where we conduct business and discuss our plans.  We have public forums and Saturday brunches where guest speakers argue for a point of view on an issue and members discuss and ask questions. Subjects have included labor issues, ballot amendments, Medicaid expansion, and candidates. We also participate in county fairs, festivals, parades, Third Thursdays, and Rock the Vote.

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Recently the SWMO Democrats sent “You’re Fired” postcards to Donald Trump at their monthly meeting.

Please give us a brief history of the organization.

The concept for Southwest Missouri Democrats was born in 2006, because of a desire to keep working by the 2006 local democratic county committees and volunteers after the election. Fundraising Chair Elliott Denniston has worked tirelessly since 2010 and our organization would not be possible without his efforts.

Chairman of the 32nd Senatorial District Doug Brooks points out that our organization is unusual in Missouri in being one of the few Democratic organizations outside of large cities that has a full-time paid executive director. Otherwise we consist of many volunteers and donors. Various unions are generous donors, but we receive no money from the state party.  Fundraisers and individual donors sustain our work.    

We work to provide a place where area Democrats can come together and meet like-minded people.  We inform each other about issues and work toward good legislation, both in Missouri and in Washington.  We work for Democrats in Jasper, Newton, Lawrence, Dade, and McDonald counties.

We organize many events involving prominent speakers such as Senator McCaskill, Jason Kander, our Auditor Nicole Galloway, our 7th District candidate Genevieve Williams, and many others. We are proud to host yearly:

  • Eleanor Roosevelt Days Mixer and Banquet (Autumn)
  • Valentine’s Day Fundraiser In Honor of a Member each year
  • Annual Pie Auction/Cute Pie Competition (Spring)
  • Annual Chili Cook Off (Winter)
  • Donor Thank You Event (Summer)
  • Monthly Breakfasts (Most Months with a variety of Speakers)
  • Educational Town Halls
  • A wide variety of campaign events

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Describe your role as Executive Director and what that entails.

We have a fantastic board and wonderful volunteers at SWMO Dems and I could not do my job without their work. I fulfill the administrative duties, but the duties that would normally fall to a Communication and Political Director are also part of my job description.  Committees help me with many duties and with our strategic plan. As a feminist and a progressive, I am proud to work for an organization that supports the principles that I hold dear and works for candidates that support progress on issues like MONA, Equal Pay, access to healthcare, and family leave. My political work on the issues and my work for the candidates who highlight them are among my favorite parts of the job. Interaction with the local and Missouri press is another favorite duty of mine. I believe a Free Press is a fundamental constitutional imperative and this belief directs my work with the press. Working with press and social media has consistently been a rewarding part of my duties as Executive Director for Southwest Missouri Democrats.

 

 

How can people get involved?

We continue to grow, especially in response to the election of November 2016.  In order to expand the work, we do, we now have seven volunteer committees: Finance, Candidate Recruitment, Field Organization, Educational Events, Public Relations, Bridging Generations, and Member Mining.  Please join one! Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter find us on both by using @swmodems . Our new website http://www.swmodems.com is live and has a volunteer tab where you can sign up and a contact tab which allows you to easily join our bulk mail list. You can email us at swmodems@gmail.com or call Krista at 417-437-8443.

 

 

 

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