My name is Jessica Slisz (O'Neal). I was born and raised here in Callaway County. I have many fond memories of swimming in the creek, catching crawdads, playing back yard baseball, and eating some of the best homemade food. Summers were always jam packed with everything from doing chores, helping out the neighbors, and spending time with my cousins. As I got older I started helping more and more with other chores and tasks that is normal with living in the country. In high school I was a member of FFA, FBLA, Spanish club, a cheerleader, drill team member, and more. I volunteered at the Callaway Senior Center meeting so many kind and thoughtful people. I learned new recipes, dance steps, and gained lots of life advice. I worked at the local Tractor Supply all through high school until I started my schooling at Westminster College majoring in Political Science.
While going to Westminster I needed more flexibility with my scheduling so started working at Walgreens. I became a pharmacy technician and that would influence my career in the future. Moving forward I went to work for a third party company that handles Missouri Medicaid. The only way I know how to explain this job is soul crushing. Telling some of our most at risk individuals that their insulin or heart medication could not be covered because a 'formula' said they couldn't have it. After working at this company for 3 years I came home to my husband in tears because my heart was breaking daily at my job, but I knew we needed two incomes. Luckily I was hired on at the University Hospital working with people who cared. This job was tough at times and stressful most of it, but I was actively helping people. I was able to connect with many organizations to help people in need. There are so many good people and groups in our community that are willing to help others. This was so heartwarming for me. Being familiar with these agencies and programs, I will always look for ways to help those in need.
Unfortunately in 2016 I ended up in a wheelchair with two broken feet that prevented me from continuing my career at the pharmacy. I was in a wheelchair for about 3 years. At this time my husband and I were living in a small 1 bedroom upstairs apartment in Fulton. We were back to one income and mounting medical bills. I had surgery and lots of physical therapy to pay for. For every appointment I was crawling on my hands and knees up and down concrete stairs in the elements. I was unable to do basic tasks such as taking out our dog, switching the laundry or cooking dinner. My wheelchair would not fit in the kitchen or laundry areas provided in our apartment. It was a struggle and really showed how inaccessible places are for those who have mobility issues. Newer buildings had no ramps to get on the sidewalk unless you went down the street or parking lot 3 or 4 shops over. I will be an advocate for those with different capabilities and ensure they have access.
Now that I am back to walking and being aware of my own health needs, I see that we need to keep moving forward to ensure the success for all citizens. I understand that out here we don't have the same issues as bigger cities. We need the right to our own bodies back, this is why I support bodily autonomy. Being able to support your family on one income should be a given. Bringing back higher paying jobs for an honest days work is imperative. Looking across the field I am reminded of our family farms and the struggles they face daily. Ensuring we are supporting our farms and eating local food is a great way to boost our local economy and keep our hard earned money local. Watching news stories where violence is rampant we often times don't recognize how many times these things are stopped without us knowing because of our law enforcement. Supporting local law enforcement officers and those who keep the felons behind bars is imperative to a safer community. Around here guns are used as a tool, not a weapon. Our natural attractions in our county are pure gems, and we need to support the conservation of these resources, preserving them for future enjoyment, and teaching safety in and out of the wilderness.
I am here for my fellow residents and will always listen to your thoughts. Voting for the people not just the party is what a representative should do. It's what I will do.
Candidate Missouri House of Representatives - District 49