Mitch Weber has worked in Kansas City as a broadcast journalist for the past 16 years—including gigs with FOX 4, 41 Action News, and Kansas City Live—and now has his sights set on Jefferson City and representing the people of Missouri's 13th district in the Missouri House.

 

From farm boy to media veteran, the Parkville native has been active in the business and philanthropy arenas working with several chambers of commerce and charities, including KC AIDS Walk & Ride and The Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

 

#Boom recently interviewed Democratic candidate as part of our "OUT on the Trail" series profiling Missouri's record number of LGBTQ candidates in 2018 where we talked about LGBTQ legislation, media and more.

 Mitch Weber Dem State Rep Candidate HD13

Tell us about your district; where is it, what does it include?

 

Missouri House District 13 is located in the Kansas City Suburb of Parkville, which is northwest of downtown KC. It does include parts of KCMO, Smithville, and Farley. There are about 27,000 registered voters. In the August Primary, my campaign received the best numbers for a Democrat in the district in a decade.

 

What was the catalyst for you getting into this race?

 

After the 2016 election, I felt it was time for new voices to be included in all level of government. Then, in 2018 the current state rep termed out and no Democrat was running for the open seat and after talking it over with some local community leaders and my family I decided to run with 48 hours remaining until the filing deadline.

 

There are a record-breaking six openly LGBTQ candidates running for the state legislature in Missouri in November. State Sen. Jolie Justus famously said, "If you don't have a seat at the table - you're probably on the menu." What are your thoughts on having out representation in Jefferson City and how do you plan to use that platform?

 

Representation is extremely important. The legislature needs to be comprised of as many different voices as possible. My top priority when elected will be taking into account how the people who live in the district want me to vote on legislation combined with my background and my minority voice. I know from experience if you start working alongside others who come from a different societal group an understanding can develop that change minds. It will make the state stronger if we can get to the point where we can focus on real issues that affect all Missourians instead of social issues that could divide us.

 
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Women's rights, voting rights, and of course, LGBTQ rights have been under attack in Missouri for some years now. We all know this is an uphill fight. But where do we start?

 

We start by having conversations with those who are on the other side of these issues. I remember my mom used to say to me when I would get upset about something, “How does it actually impact you?” Most times an issue I was having actually didn’t affect me at all. No matter what I think about abortion, I will not tell anyone what they can or cannot do to their bodies. Those decisions should be left between them, their physician and their faith.

 

You support the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act, which would protect LGBTQ Missourians from discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodation. What's your approach or argument to bring opponents around on the issue.

 

This is where we need to find those who have been discriminated against in these situations and tell their stories to the legislature. Stories matter. It can be difficult to walk in someone else’s shoes, but you cannot tell someone who was denied a place to live or fired from a job their lives are less important because you can’t relate to them on a personal level. Everyone should be treated fairly.

 
Mitch with family

Let's talk about some other issues of importance to our readers. Crime is a major concern in the metropolitan areas. What's your plan to address it?

 

I believe it goes back to education and making sure the system is a level playing field for everyone. I have friends who are teachers in the Kansas City Urban Core. They see it firsthand. If young people feel they are stuck in poverty and can’t afford to make a better life for themselves they will turn to a life of crime. We can start by making Pre-K free for all children and invest in programs that make higher education, whether that is a technical school or public university affordable for everyone.

  

Student Loan debt?

 

I am still trying to pay off my student loans, so I can relate. We need to look at the Debt-Free College Act of 2018. This would create a federal-state partnership to cut high tuition bills and loan debt to make debt-free 2- and 4-year college a possibility for all students. States would receive a federal match to help students pay for the full cost of attendance without having to take on debt. Loan debt doesn’t consist of just tuition, but the money we have to borrow to live on while attending college, even if you can swing a job while taking classes.

 

Access to healthcare for Missourians?

  

This is another issue I believe would improve the quality of life of all Missourians if they didn’t have to worry about paying for medical bills. Missouri needs to join the 33 other states that expanded Medicaid, which would result in the state receiving $1.8 billion in federal funding. This is crucial.

 

Equality advocates in Missouri find themselves playing more and more defense when it comes to LGBTQ rights. What are your thoughts on the Religious Freedom legislation allowing discrimination based on religious objections that are being introduced around the country?

 Mitch Webers Dad with sign

A person’s religious belief should never be used to discriminate against LGBTQ and religious minorities. I respect anyone’s right to their religious beliefs, but not if they are calling for ‘religious freedom’ to justify homophobia, sexism, and racism.

 

Visibility is so important and I love that you feature your husband so prominently on your campaign website. Who proposed to whom?

 

We had been dating for four years when gay marriage became legal. Marriage was a discussion we had early on in our relationship, but we never thought it would be an option. When the Supreme Court ruling came down we were so excited, but we didn’t want to rush in and get married. We wanted to make sure the timing was right for us. I would have proposed first, but I wanted him to feel comfortable and make the decision on his own terms because I would have done it publicly and he wanted it to be more private. So, we were on our first overseas vacation in Barcelona and we were walking around the Zoo. I could just tell he was nervous about something and sure enough, he popped the question the moment we got back to our hotel room with a glass of wine. It was private and perfect.

 

You come from a media background which has come under unprecedented attack by the current administration in Washington. That said, what skills as a journalist will you bring with you to Jefferson City if elected?

 

One of the earliest skills I learned as a TV reporter was listening and keeping an open mind. There are more than two sides to every issue and being able to listen and understand where someone is coming from is so important. Everyone wants to be heard. Being able to listen, learn and be respectful is crucial whether you are a journalist or an elected official. The platform is different, but the audience is still paying attention.

 

When talking to voters in your district, what are the top issues they want to speak to you about?

 

I’ve had so many conversations about public education, health care, and roads. All issues that have an impact on everyone.

 Mitch with voters

Voter turnout will be key for a Weber victory. Talk to our readers, especially the younger readers, about the importance of one person, one vote.

 

There are so many examples of races that were won by just a couple votes or a coin toss! You can make a difference. Also, there is still time to get involved in a local campaign. Candidates need your help. My best piece of advice is to just show up at a campaign event, campaign office, canvassing event, anything and just ask what you can do. Even if you don’t want to knock doors, offer to drive a candidate or volunteers who are canvassing. It makes a difference because we will reach more voters and that will make all the difference. Everyone should think of voting as a buddy system. You reach out and get one person to make their plan to vote and encourage them to do the same with someone else. Your voice will be heard with your vote on November 6th.

 

Any final thoughts?

 

Thank you for the opportunity. I want your readers to know there are those of us who are running for office who will put people over politics. Missouri will only grow stronger when all sides work together so everyone has the same opportunity no matter where they live or who they love.

 

"OUT on the Trail" is an ongoing series of profiles on out LGBTQ candidates. Check out our interviews with Kathy EllisTom HanneganMitch WeberIan MackeyPatrice BillingsGreg Razer and Ryan Dillon.  

 

 

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