Springfield Activist Vicke Kepling Offers 135th District Voters a Green Party Candidate
Longtime activist and Springfield resident Vicke Kepling is running as a Green Party candidate to represent Missouri’s 135th legislative district, which covers an area to the east of Springfield, stretching from Kearney Street to Sunshine. Currently, that seat is held by Republican Steve Helms, who is running for reelection.
Listen to the audio for the story here.
A full year after Vicke Kepling announced her candidacy, she’s still knocking on doors and talking with voters.
Today it’s chilly outside, and not many people are answering. If no one’s home, Kepling leaves a campaign pamphlet and refrigerator magnet, and writes a note.
“I like to put something personal, so today, I’m putting ‘Happy Heart Day!’ because it’s Valentine’s Day,” Kepling said while writing the message on the pamphlet.
This time, someone came to the door. Kepling introduces herself and her platform with a smile.
She told one voter, “I care about everything, and also as I’m walking around, I’m going to every single door and asking people what issues you are most concerned with at the state level.”
Originally from Lebanon, Kepling attended Missouri State University, receiving a Bachelor’s and two Master’s degrees. She’s been an activist in Missouri for over 20 years, first as a disability advocate in education, and then as an environmental activist.
She helped organize a Springfield climate protest in September and says her number one priority if elected is the environment.
“My core issue is protecting our water quality and our natural resources here in Missouri," Kepling told KSMU. "Legislators are passing legislation that is going to pollute out waterways and our rivers, and I take that very seriously.”
Another selling point of Kepling’s campaign is its lack of big-dollar donors, especially from the fossil fuel industry.
“I cannot be bought," she said. "I’m not big money. I’m not in this for the money. The position pays about $36,000, and I’m not into going there and trying to sell my vote. I will be there for the voters.”
She was a delegate for Bernie Sanders at the Democratic National Convention in 2016 and canvassed for his 2020 campaign in Iowa. She is also a member of the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.
Kepling says she’s the first Green Party candidate to run a state representative position in Greene County, which KSMU confirmed with the Green Party of Missouri. She says she’s aware of her underdog status, but says she’s reaching out to voters who feel the main parties don’t speak to their interests anymore.
“People mention, you know, I can take votes from another party, but it’s my belief that this is a democracy, and we should have more choices than what we have now," Kepling said. "I really want to take an environmental voice to Jefferson City. I think we need that.”
In addition to running against the incumbent Republican Steve Helms, Kepling is also running against Democratic candidate Betsy Fogle.
Kepling says she will not run again if she’s unsuccessful in her bid. But with the election still nine months away, she says she’s gearing up for the main campaign season, and still has a lot of doors to knock on.
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