By Michael Layer for The Missouri TImes
“We have not allowed them to be people … we don’t allow our politicians to say s— when they stub their toe like the rest of us do”
ST. LOUIS – The abbreviation M. O. usually signifies the Show-Me State, but for the progressive political consulting firm based out of St. Louis, it means Maxwell and Okohson – specifically, Tyler Maxwell and Rosetta Okohson. The two have just completed their first year of their own political advisory agency, M.O. Political Consulting, and have been gearing up for elections in 2018.
“We decided to start the firm because we wanted to have a hands-on approach in figuring out who the people were running for office that we wanted to work for,” Okohson said. “We decided that we wanted to seek those people out and ask the questions that we decided we needed to ask.”
Okohson and Maxwell have a history in shaping Missouri politics. They began their working relationship under Jill Schupp’s senate campaign in 2014. Okohson has also worked on Jake Zimmerman’s bid for attorney general in 2016 and Tishaura O. Jones’ run for mayor of St. Louis. On the other hand, Maxwell managed Byron DeLear’s attempt for representative in District 70.
Among some of their clients are Darlene Green for St. Louis City comptroller, Joe Diekemper for 17th Ward alderman, Megan Ellyia Green for 15th Ward alderwoman, and Byron DeLear for House District 70.
“We think this is a prime opportunity for Democrats in Missouri to take some of these state seats back,” Maxwell said. “We want to make sure that we are there to support the candidates on an organizational level and deal with any problems that they have.
As some of the best advocates for Democrat candidates, they are not unfamiliar with local and national criticisms of the party. Yet despite challenges Democrats have faced, especially in 2016, M.O. Political Consulting has been telling their candidates to not make the same mistakes.
“We have not allowed them to be people. We have candidates that are not connecting with people – that’s why voter turnout has been very low, we don’t allow our politicians to say s— when they stub their toe like the rest of us do,” Okohson said. “It creates this pedestal that elected officials are on that regular people don’t necessarily associate with or can understand.”
She believes that such a pedestal prevents voters from connecting with candidates and will not feel relatable enough to secure their vote. “I think we have to allow them to react when they should cry when they’re supposed to if something bad happens, or be excited when something great happens,” she continues. “I think those are pieces are missing and why people have been disheartened about showing up to vote for people. We have to do a better job of connecting our elected officials to our people.”
Both she and Maxwell encourage their clients to not only be relatable enough as human beings but to be an active part of their respective communities. Okohson said she wants candidates to consistently report back to their respective communities so that they can be a part of the district they represent and not seem worlds apart.
“They have to be a part of those communities, they have to be checking in with those communities. They have to know what the community needs, that means checking in with them on a regular basis, and going to them,” she said. “This is not having some candidate pulling the strings from some fictional ivory tower this is about the candidate being a real person, resonating with real issues that people have, and being the messenger – whether it’s in Jefferson City or in your local government’s level.”