Caleb McKnight is a senior at Western and is involved in many organizations on campus who will be running to become a state representative of Missouri.
McKnight will be running against Representative Jim Neely. Neely is a republican and represents Clinton and Caldwell counties and parts of Clay and Ray (District 8) in the Missouri House of Representatives. He was elected to his first two year term in November 2012.
McKnight has been interested in running for State Representative since freshman year due to him being a political science major.
“Originally Jim Neely has been running unopposed for like the last two terms,” McKnight said. “I got old enough to know that I am going to run against him because that gives someone a choice at least and coming out and doing all these things. I think I can actually make a difference for the area.”
“I think I would like to make some changes in the way our county is run because [Neely] has mostly put out bills regarding health for seniors and not really everyone in general,” McKnight said. “So I think I would like to do that going forward and then change some of the rent policies in the area as well.”
Associate Professor of Political Science Chair Edwin Taylor says he is proud of McKnight’s willingness to run.
“I am extremely proud of Caleb deciding to run for public office,” Taylor said. “The greatest threat to American Democracy is the continued disengagement of citizens from the political and policy process.”
“It is no easy task to run a campaign and it is even harder to be willing to put your ideas and your private life out for public scrutiny and I celebrate Caleb for doing something that most citizens are too afraid to do,” Taylor said.
He is a member of the Politics Club, a non-partisan group of students that seeks to engage students with a range of political issues and talk about the events of the day. He is also a part of Pi Sigma Alpha and the National Political Science Honor Society.
Taylor says that McKnight has been a reliable member of the organizations that he is involved in.
“I can say that I have known Caleb for almost four years in the context of being a faculty member, an advisor to the RSOs in which he is involved, his academic advisor, and the organizer of a 21 day Study Away trip in Sustainability and Livability in American Cities (Portland, OR),” Taylor said. “In that time I have found Caleb to be a congenial and interesting student with a set of well-ground values who is curious and hard working.”
“Caleb is an committed and active member of Pi Sigma Alpha and has served outstandingly as our Treasurer for the last year,” Taylor said. “He has been active in organizing fund raising activities, working closely with Debbie Crisler, the EPSS Administrative Assistant, to manage our budget and agency accounts in addition to organizing community service activities for the organization.”
McKnight believes that his political science courses have prepared him for the election by giving him a good theoretical perspective on what should happen and a better sense of what should get done.
Professor Taylor feels that, being a political science major and a member of both Pi Sigma Alpha and the Politics Club, McKnight has been well prepared for this election.
“Given that we have a citizen’s legislature with term-limits leading to the attrition of legislators with institutional experience, should he be elected Caleb comes with the ability to quickly absorb the learning curve of the legislative process in addition to being well-positioned to discuss solutions to the problems facing his constituents and work to implement their ideas into cogent policy,” Taylor said.
McKnight has not done a lot of campaigning due to school, but he does plan on starting and focusing on it once summer starts.
“I plan on kicking my campaign off officially in June because school takes up so much time,” McKnight said. “But I have gone to a couple training seminars and a couple of other fundraisers and taking in how they do things. I’m basically doing the learning process of what I need to do now to go forward and officially do it in June.”
The open primary election will be held on August 7th and the general election will be held on November 6th. The candidate filing deadline was March 27. All 163 House seats are up for re-election in 2018.
No person may file for any office in a subsequent election until he or the treasurer of his existing candidate committee has filed all required campaign disclosure reports for all prior elections.