Brian Elsesser, an adjunct faculty member at Webster University, is running for Democratic state representative in Missouri’s 77th district. Students at Webster have started volunteering for his campaign, and Elsesser says education and social justice are his focus.
The district includes the Central West End, The Grove and the north side of St. Louis. The winner will run unopposed in November, as there were no filings by Republican candidates.
Elsesser, who currently teaches St. Louis history at Webster’s Westport campus, is running against three other candidates in the upcoming Democratic primary on Aug. 2. Jesse Todd, Steve Roberts and John Collins-Muhammad have all filed for the race, according to the Secretary of State’s website.
The four are running for the seat currently held by Kimberly Gardner. Gardner chose not to run for re-election but instead for St. Louis circuit attorney, according to The Missouri Times.
Elsesser said one of his motivations for running is that he was tired of the way the educational system was being run.
“I am very concerned that resources are not getting to classrooms in American education,” Elsesser said. “The model seems to send money up to administration.”
Elsesser said he wants to go to Jefferson City to hold colleges and highly paid administrators accountable and to speak out about the social issues facing St. Louis.
“I think the biggest challenge this metropolitan area faces is the fact we are balkanized between city and countys,” Elsesser said. “One could argue that a major factor in the crisis over Michael Brown was caused by small, less-than-fully professional certified police departments.”
Elsesser taught at Webster with former governor Bob Holden, who said he enjoyed their time working together.
“Brian is very committed to improving the lives of all of the people in St. Louis,” Holden said. “He has boundless energy and is very smart and truly cares about the community.”
Isaiah Santiago, a student at Webster, serves as Elsesser’s deputy campaign manager and said Elsesser brings in a solid progressive agenda free of corruption.
“He is very new and fresh,” Santiago said. “He will bring in innovative and comprehensive ideas that can help St. Louis and Missourians.”
Webster student Katie Lade was hired as Elsesser’s community outreach and canvassing director because of her past experience canvassing for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Lade said she was comfortable knocking on doors and meeting voters.
Lade said she told Elsesser how important face-to-face contact is, especially if candidates want their message to resonate with people.
“I kind of formed our first canvassing group,” Lade said. “We had about six people, and we knocked on about 250 doors in a couple hours.”
Lade said Elsesser is the man for the job because of his commitment to important questions.
“He is very set in his ways, which is a good thing,” Lade said. “He is not going to flip on issues.”