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Cori Bush Wins, Heads To Congress Committed To ‘Fighting For The Regular Person’

Bush’s victory in Missouri’s First Congressional District makes her the first Black woman elected to represent Missouri in Congress.

(Credit: Courtesy of Craig Phelps)

Cori Bush Wins, Heads To Congress Committed To ‘Fighting For The Regular Person’

Bush’s victory in Missouri’s First Congressional District makes her the first Black woman elected to represent Missouri in Congress.

Cori Bush has won the race for Missouri’s First Congressional District, becoming the first Black woman elected to represent the state in Congress. Bush, who leapt into politics after leading protests in the wake of a white police officer killing Michael Brown, a Black 18-year-old, ran on a platform that aims to stop police brutality, reform the criminal legal system, and improve education.

In 2016, Bush launched an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S.Senate and two years later lost a bid to unseat Representative William Lacy Clay in the U.S. House of Representatives. For more than a half-century, the House seat for Missouri’s First Congressional District, which encompasses Ferguson and St. Louis, had been filled by either Clay or his father. But in August, Bush built on the momentum from her 2018 campaign and defeated Clay in the Democratic primary, effectively ensuring she would be elected to serve the heavily Democratic district. 

In Washington, D.C., one of Bush’s priorities will be stopping police brutality. “We have to deal with the system on every side,” she said. “It’s not just the officers. The officers continue to do what they do because our system allows them to.” Along with working to abolish police unions that she says protect officers, she supports the introduction of a national police misconduct registry that would be available to the public. “As a nurse, if something happens that’s misconduct or medical negligence…That becomes public information,” she said. “I believe the same thing should happen for officers.” 

Bush also has a plan to reform the country’s prisons and jails, where roughly 2.2 million people are incarcerated. She wants to end cash bail, reform parole policies to reduce the prison population (there is currently no federal parole), and make it easier for prisoners to re-enter society after serving their sentences. Bush told The Appeal that she wants to crack down on corporations making money off incarcerated people by charging them exorbitant rates for essential items from the commissary and phone calls. “I just feel like it’s a very unfair system,” she said. Prisoners use their often meager work wages to pay for those items. Bush said she hopes to one day introduce legislation that would require prisons to pay workers the prevailing minimum wage in their state. 

Education is a key part of Bush’s platform and she shared with The Appeal her robust plan to make it better for all children. Among her priorities are modernizing infrastructure in crumbling facilities, increasing funding for student lunches, and installing community gardens at every school. “We have to make sure that no child is hungry,” she said. 

When speaking to students, Bush said she frequently hears that they do not want to attend school because they don’t have clean clothes and want to avoid being teased. In an effort to combat this, Bush wants every school to put in washing machines and dryers accessible to students. And as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced children to learn at home, she believes it’s necessary for the government to implement a national broadband network and more funding for tutors. 

Bush’s commitment to criminal justice reform and education merge in her fight for therapists and social workers to replace school resource officers. 

Once she’s in Washington, Bush said she would continue to be motivated to serve the same people who she protests alongside. “My role is to be what I’ve always wanted to see, that’s somebody actually fighting for the regular person,” she said. “I feel like that role starts with fighting for the person who has the least in this district and looking at everything else I do from that lens.”