The Daily Guide - Waynesville, MO
  • St. James teacher named as DEM candidate for 120th District seat

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  • ST. JAMES - Zech Hockersmith, Democratic candidate for 120th District
    representative in the Aug. 5 special election, grew up in Poplar Bluff
    in southeast Missouri.
    “I like to think of myself as an old Southern Democrat,” he said.
    His use of the word “old” is descriptive of the style of Democratic
    positions he holds, not his own age, for he’s only 26.
    But he notes that he is pro-life and pro-Second Amendment.
    “I’m just like anyone else around here,” he said.
    Hockersmith, an elementary school teacher at Boys and Girls Town
    (Great Circle), wants to succeed Jason Smith, a Republican from
    Salem, in the Missouri Legislature. Smith resigned when he was
    elected to the Eighth District U.S. representative post in a special
    Congressional election in June 2013.
    It’s taken awhile, but Gov. Jay Nixon has called for a special
    election Aug. 5 to fill the vacant 120th District seat.
    According to William "Bill" Camm Seay, chairman of the 120th
    Legislative District Democratic committee, Hockersmith, of St. James,
    was chosen by a majority vote March 18 at a special meeting of the
    committee in Cuba, Mo. Seay would not release the actual vote count.
    Hockersmith was chosen over Robert Mesger, of Sullivan, the only other
    Democratic candidate to express interest in being nominated.
    The two candidates were interviewed by committee members March 11,
    Seay said.
    Of the 19 committee members who could vote, 13 of them showed up to
    cast a ballot.
    Hockersmith will face off against Shawn Sisco, a Republican from
    Rolla, in the special election Aug. 5.
    Both Hockersmith and Mesger have filed for the Democratic primary
    election to be held the same day. Sisco has filed for the Republican
    primary as has Jason Chipman, of St. James.
    The person who wins the special election, after being sworn in, will
    serve in the state House until the candidate who wins the August
    primary and subsequently the November general election is sworn in.
    That possibly could be the same individual.
    The 120th District covers eastern Phelps County, including the City of
    St. James, and almost all of Crawford County.
    Hockersmith is in his first year as a teacher and his sixth year with
    Boys and Girls Town. He is a former cottage life supervisor.
    He has also worked construction. “I come from a long line of
    contractors,” he said, and his relatives are well-known in the
    Page 2 of 3 - building trades in southeast Missouri.
    He has completed an education degree from Drury University and is a
    certified Missouri teacher working on his master’s degree in
    administration from William Woods University.
    His wife, Amber, is a teacher at Rolla Middle School. They have two
    children, Isaiah Gabriel, 5, and Micailah, 1.
    His family and his job have combined to lead him to seek the post in
    the state Legislature.
    “I’ve been advocating for children my entire adult life. What
    better way to advocate for children than to go to Jeff City and
    advocate for everyone,” he said.
    His background and his education led him to seek the position as a
    Democrat, for Hockersmith.
    “I have a strong conviction to represent the people,” he said, and
    he believes Democrats have traditionally been in touch with working
    people and working families.
    “I’ve always had two or three jobs,” he said. “I work a full
    day every day. I’ve got two children to feed.”
    In addition to his work at Boys and Girls Town, Hockersmith owns a
    small business that installs swimming pools.
    Hockersmith believes government can play a role in making families’
    lives better through reforms.
    “I’m more of a progressive than anything else,” he said,
    hearkening back to men like Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard
    Taft. “We’re never going to go wrong investing in our human
    resources,” Hockersmith said.
    And education is a prime way to invest in people, he stressed with
    anecdotes from his own life and his father’s life.
    Education, economic growth and “a strong conviction for the family”
    are going to be emphasized in his campaign and in his tenure, if he is
    Regarding economics, Hockersmith muses, “If there are more
    billionaires than ever before, why is unemployment higher? If rich
    people make jobs and we’ve got more rich people than we did, why
    aren’t they making jobs?”
    Government must figure out how to incentivize those rich people to
    invest their money in ways that will make more jobs, he said.
    He likes the way former state Rep. Jason Smith has always worked hard
    to keep people in the district informed.
    “That is something I want to continue,” he said. “When I vote
    Page 3 of 3 - for something, I want people to understand why.”
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