A Columbia veterinarian has filed to run for the Missouri House of Representatives in the August primary.
Maren Bell Jones has announced her Democratic candidacy for District 44, the seat currently held by Republican State Rep. Cheri Toalson Reisch.
Bell Jones graduated from MU with bachelor's and master's degrees in biology and religious studies. She then went on to receive her doctorate in veterinary medicine. Bell Jones opened her own house call veterinary practice, Right At Home, in 2011.
Bell Jones says she was inspired to run because of her involvement with the March for Science in April 2017. She wants to use her training as a biologist and veterinarian to help direct legislation in an evidence-based way, particularly in regard to health care, the environment, education, agriculture and infrastructure.
"I was throwing the idea around for a while. I went down to the Capitol when they were in session and observed for a couple of hours and I think that really took away the intimidation factor," Bell Jones said. "I think when I walked in and saw there were a lot of folks from Columbia and all over the state that were interested in what I was interested in, I knew I could do it."
Bell Jones also said that she is concerned with the budget cuts targeted at MU, and wants to offer a different perspective on health care.
"I have a slightly different perspective on health care in regards to what the true cost is, a shoulder surgery for a dog may be $3,000 to $4,000, while a human is twice that. Why?" Bell Jones said.
According to her website, Bell Jones' campaign values include not accepting "dark money" (meaning money from political action committees or special interest groups), using local businesses to produce all of her campaign materials, using only recycled and recyclable printed campaign materials, and not producing attack advertisements.
If Bell Jones wins the primary, she could face Toalson Reisch, R-Hallsville, who was elected to her first two-year term in November 2016. She also filed on Tuesday to retain the seat.
"I have never heard of her, I don't know anything about her, so I don't have any comments about her," Toalson Reisch said. "Right now, I'm just going to continue to serve my district and run my race as I would if anyone else was running against me."
She went on to say she is also planning to not run attack ads during the campaign.
"When I ran for my seat two years ago I said that I don't sling mud, I don't play dirty. It will be a clean race," Toalson Reisch said.
Supervising editor is Mark Horvit, firstname.lastname@example.org.