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Jenna Marie speaks before Our Revolution

Thank you for inviting me here this evening. I am very pleased to be speaking in front of such a fine group of hardworking men and women particularly in the Carpenter’s hall, a supporter of mine during my bid for Missouri State Representative in the 12th District. As many of you know, I am the product of a union family, my father, step-father, father-in-law, aunt and uncle were all members of the IBEW. My grandfather was a member of the IUOE having worked nearly his entire life for the Chicago Public Schools. I still remember driving to Wisconsin for the weekend and sitting in the back seat of the car. My grandfather would give very long lectures during that four-hour trip, telling me how important it was to study in school. He used to tell me that he progressed in his job by taking exam after exam. I followed his advice and by the time I attended college I won an academic scholarship to Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL.

My grandfather felt it was important for my sister and I to enjoy life outside of the city and in 1970 purchased a summer home in Northern Wisconsin with the wages he earned from his union job. In Wisconsin, I learned a lot about living in a small rural town of 1100. On the weekends, my sister and I would walk to the dairy farm at the end of the road and get fresh milk and eggs from the farmer. I can still smell the alfalfa growing in the field across the road and hear the rooster that would crow from on top the chicken coop. We spent a lot of time with my grandfather because he had many weeks of vacation from his union job. During those vacations, I learned how to fish and hunt at an early age. I was fortunate that unions worked so hard to get a 40 hour work week and benefits including healthcare insurance, pensions, and vacations.

As a child, I was never healthy, having been diagnosed with asthma at the age of 6. Luckily, my parents were covered by Blue Cross/Blue Shield through their union job. In 2012, while working for the US Department of Commerce in Washington DC, my asthma became aggravated by a particular mold that is present predominantly in that area of the country. I became so ill that my lung had collapsed, requiring months of COPD medication. After taking that medication, I was not allowed to buy health insurance because the insurance companies believed that I had COPD even though my condition was severe asthma, a pre-existing condition. Despite earning a large salary by owning my own company, my net worth was continually depleted by having to pay out of the pocket expenses.

I believe that it is an injustice when the wealthiest nation can’t afford healthcare for all of its citizens. I believe that every American has a right to healthcare. As your new Congresswoman, I would support legislation declaring healthcare a right and I would support a single payer healthcare system to ensure that every American has healthcare.

Many members of the younger generation are working two or three jobs just to make ends meet. I believe it is an injustice to pay people $7.75/hr. Did you know that the average cost of a new car this year is $33,000 with a payment of $600 per month? That is 300% of what a car cost when I was coming out of college. My internship that year paid me $7.50/hr. As your new Congresswoman, I would support legislation to increase the federal minimum wage to $15/hr.

As many of you now know, I am the first transgender candidate to run for Congress in the State of Missouri. Being transgender is not a choice. We are not a lifestyle. We are not an abomination. Being transgender is biological. We are humans just like anyone else. Research by the top research scientists in the world during the last five years has confirmed that being transgender is biological. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, the incumbent, is the author of several bills in Congress that if signed into law will eliminate gender and gender identity as protected classes from approximately 19 states. It is an injustice when certain Americans are prevented from enjoying the basics of the American dream including the ability to get a job, to get housing, to get healthcare, and to get access to public services and accommodations. I believe that every American has the right to achieve the American dream. As your new Congresswoman, I will introduce a full civil rights bill protecting all LGBTQ Americans.

Yesterday, I returned from Port Arthur, TX where I became the first transgender Commanding Officer in the Cajun Navy for Southeast Texas. My team consisted of special forces personnel, policeman, fireman, EMS, and military veterans and together we helped save thousands of lives operating under the direct jurisdiction of the Texas National Guard. During that trip, my windshield caught a bullet that was directly intended for me and would have killed me if it were not for the slant in the windshield according to the Lebanon, MO police. Rep. Vicky Hartzler doesn’t believe that we have the right to serve claiming that we are too costly. Ms. Hartzler knows little to nothing about being transgender. I can assure you that transgender people are the toughest people in this country as evidenced by the respect that the people under my command afforded me. I believe that every American has the right to serve in the military to protect our country. As your new Congresswoman, I will introduce legislation guaranteeing this right to all LGBTQ Americans.

25 to 40% of children living in my district live in poverty. I believe that it is outrageous when the wealthiest nation in the world has so many children living in poverty. While Rep. Hartzler, state and local elected officials have done little or nothing to help their constituents, I am introducing a New Deal for Rural Missouri. Centered around sustainable agriculture and business innovation, my plan focuses on solving poverty by giving Missourians a change to own something. A person cannot achieve wealth when they continue to work for $7.75/hr and rent from landlords.

Approximately 62 million acres will change hands over the next five years in Missouri due to retiring farmers. My New Deal for Rural Missouri encourages our community to work together to get more people into startup farms and startup businesses. Missourians can get into startup farms in two ways: 1) They can apply for a new startup farm loan, similar to the current SBA loan, but geared towards startup farms. 2) They can purchase a farm through the federally backed Retiring Farmer’s Reverse Mortgage program. Through this program, startup farmers pay monthly payments directly to the farmer for a 10 to 40 acre parcel of land. The program provides deferred payments during the first year for the startup farmer. In exchange for the retiring farmer’s help, there will be no estate taxes or capital gains taxes on the property purchased by the startup farmer. Having discussed this plan with several local officials within my district, it is believed that we can double the amount of economic output for rural Missouri in a sustainable way in 2 to 3 years time.

Thank you, for giving me the opportunity to speak before you.

Jenna Marie Bourgeois

Democratic Candidate Missouri's 4th District 

The Committee to Elect Jenna Marie Bourgeois

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