After working in the private sector and federal government, Michela Skelton said, she got a sense of how politics have changed.
Skelton, the Democratic candidate for Missouri House of Representatives District 50 in the Nov. 6 general election, said she believes in service, responsibility and community — values she believes are missing in the opposing party.
"The more I watched and the more I got involved behind the scenes for both Democrats and Republicans, I really came to know that those values that I grew up with were not the values that the modern Republican Party is based on," Skelton said.
Born in Alabama, Skelton has been a Boone County resident for six years.
After earning her law degree from Washington University in St. Louis, she worked as an attorney for the Missouri Senate drafting bills for insurance, housing and transportation. Prior to this, she graduated from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville with a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's degree in public administration and policy analysis.
In a special election in August 2017, Skelton was defeated by current state Rep. Sara Walsh. The seat became available after former Rep. Caleb Jones was named deputy chief of staff to former Gov. Eric Greitens.
Skelton hopes this election will be different.
"There's a lot more people that are interested in paying attention now," Skelton said. "More people have seen the way that our state has continued to go, and I think more people are ready for a different direction."
The district covers most of Moniteau County and touches Boone, Cole and Cooper counties. Before Skelton, a Democratic nominee had not run in the area since lines were redrawn in 2011.
Skelton said she felt unheard by Jones and knew what she would do if elected.
"My primary responsibility to my constituents will be to listen to their concerns and to also bring tangible benefits to our communities through things like raising the minimum wage so people who work 40 hours a week can live a life of dignity," Skelton said.
She said expansion of Medicaid and getting more money to public schools are important to the district.
For two years, running for office and being a stay-at-home parent have been her full-time jobs. She said having time to build relationships with people in the district has been an important part of her campaigning.
Skelton said she's working with the farming community, students, teachers and others in the district — educating both sides and seeing the connections between the rural and urban communities.
"I think our people in our communities are finally getting tired of being lied to by the party that's in control about how much they care about jobs or how much they care about our education when all they keep doing is cutting taxes for the wealthy," she said. " As a patriot, as an American, as a Missourian, I am angry at our government for leaving people out of the conversation."
She said she would prioritize accessibility as a representative for District 50.
"I want people to be able to know me. If they have questions, send me an email, give me a call, reach out to me on social media," she said. "I don't want to be one of those politicians that's unavailable and who hides from their constituents."