Throughout my years of public service, many of you have come to know me and my story. My father died before I was born, a victim of gun violence. When I was a small child, my mother died from suicide. Missouri’s systems had failed her: our economic system, our education system, our health care system. All of them.
Growing up, these systems failed me too, and in turn, I failed myself time and time again. As a young person, I lacked faith, purpose and hope. I did not finish high school; however, that didn’t stop me from pursuing my education and seeking more knowledge. Eventually, I found faith. I found purpose. And I found my calling in public service.
In 2006, I was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives. I was reelected in the state House twice before I was elected to the state Senate in 2012, where I was reelected in 2016. Each time, with each election and every ballot, voters put their trust in me.
Each year, I’ve worked hard to honor that trust. This past year was no different, as I delivered on a number of important policy changes to help the citizens, families and neighborhoods of St. Louis.
I cosponsored Senate Bill 1 to help more people expunge their nonviolent criminal records. Expanding expungement opportunities will help former offenders live their new lives as law-abiding citizens.
I sponsored Senate Bill 203 to clean up neighborhoods and fix blight by allowing law enforcement to take quicker action on nuisance properties. Hopefully, this will make our streets safer and neighborhoods stronger.
We also passed House Bill 192 to help end debtors’ prisons in Missouri. Included in this bill is language I sponsored to allow courts to evaluate fines on a case-by-case basis for certain traffic offenses. This will help stop mandatory, unmanageable financial penalties against drivers who are not able to pay.
We also passed Senate Bill 224 to help fight crime by protecting the identity of witnesses. Without this law, alleged criminals could learn the identity of witnesses cooperating with police before charges are made. This law will protect witnesses’ identities to keep them safety.
I also helped secure $18.3 million in the state budget for projects and programs that will directly benefit citizens, schools and organizations in the City of St. Louis.
All of these bills received bipartisan support in both chambers and are awaiting the governor’s signature.
Looking ahead to 2020, there is still work to be done. Because of term limits, 2020 will be my last year as a state senator.
Going into my final session, I am driven by the same goal that has kept moving me forward all these years: to make St. Louis better than the one I grew up in. To make sure that a child born like me – into violence, into poverty, into despair – will not just survive, but thrive.
That’s why I’ve worked for better schools and safer streets. It’s why I’ve brought millions of state dollars back home to St. Louis to lift up our communities. And it’s why I’ve never been shy of speaking truth to power – especially when it gives a voice to the voiceless.
I have one year left in the state Senate, and I intend on using it to keep fighting for the City of St. Louis.
Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis) represents the 5th District in the Missouri Senate.