I do not have the new coronavirus. But I am running for Missouri’s 5th Senate District alongside it. Like all of us, I never expected to be living – or campaigning – under these conditions. Even though we were not prepared for this pandemic, we’re fighting back. We’re going to beat it, and I am as determined as ever to be part of that effort.
Last July, when I started a journey into politics, I was cheered on and supported by my loving husband, Ronald. However, by December of last year, I suddenly became a widow after Ron passed away from a stroke. In the midst of my immense grief and sadness, dealing with dozens of communications between my health insurance company and the hospital that cared for him, and surrounded by an outpouring of love, I have a deeper desire to change our state’s healthcare system.
Then came COVID-19. It has trampled our neighborhoods, nursing homes, small businesses, meat packing plants, and prisons, stealing both lives and livelihoods. It is clear that healthcare is a basic human right. No person should be denied access to quality healthcare, including potentially life-saving treatment and medications, because of their inability to pay.
We can help these families by passing Medicaid expansion in the next legislative session. It doesn’t make sense for Missouri to leave federal dollars on the table that will get spent in some other state in order to continue rejecting “Obamacare,” simply because it was passed during President Obama’s tenure.
Our state must also deal with the scope of healthcare. Mental healthcare is healthcare. And we must have leaders in Jefferson City who are willing to fight for the funding and resources necessary to help people access the care that they need to thrive.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shined much-needed light on the inequities of our current health system and exposed how our state and federal governments are failing communities of color. African Americans have a heightened risk of harm from this virus due to a disproportionate lack of access to quality healthcare, housing, transportation, education and employment. Add to that underlying medical conditions and an understandable mistrust of the system, and it results in heartbreaking statistics for African Americans in St. Louis being hospitalized and dying. This injustice cannot be allowed to continue, and I want to be part of the coalition of elected officials sent to Jefferson City with a clear mandate to stop it.
As a former deputy state auditor, I view the problems we are facing with healthcare, employment and crime through the eyes of an auditor who scrutinizes each line on the budget report while analyzing how and where our tax dollars are spent. If the people of St. Louis vote to send me back to Jefferson City, I will go through our state’s budget with a fine-tooth comb and fight to make sure our community gets every dollar we are due.
I care deeply about helping your family succeed and our community thrive. That’s why I am campaigning through COVID-19 and through personal trials. We have seen how our state and country functions when elected leaders choose convenience over courage and excuses over experience. I have decades of experience – as a federal and state public servant, as a small business owner, and as a licensed attorney and C.P.A. – decades making courageous decisions to do what’s best for Missourians.
And now I want to use the totality of my professional experience, combined with a lifetime of lessons I’ve learned while growing up as the daughter of a widowed mother alongside my siblings, in order to continue serving St. Louisans.
Michelle Sherod is running for Missouri’s 5th District Senate seat as a Democrat. She is a C.P.A., attorney, small business owner and nonprofit executive with more than 20 years of experience working for Claire McCaskill in state and federal offices.