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Politically Speaking: Englund on her unusual quest back to the Missouri General Assembly

State Rep. Vicki Englund
File photo by Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On this week’s edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome (back) former state Rep. Vicki Englund, a Green Park Democrat who's served two terms in the Missouri House.

Englund served two non-consecutive terms in the Missouri House, representing competitive territory in south St. Louis County.

A few months after state Sen. Scott Sifton, D-Affton, announced his 2016 attorney general bid, Englund jumped into the competitive scrum to represent the south St. Louis County-based 1st District. But earlier this month, Sifton bowed out of the attorney general race and decided to run for re-election in 2016 instead. Englund, in turn, announced she would seek another term for her old House seat in the 94th District.

Englund's likely opponent -- state Rep. Cloria Brown, R-St. Louis County -- also has recorded an episode of Politically Speaking. Her show will air on Monday.

Englund and state Brown have engaged in an epic electoral duel, with Englund coming out ahead in 2008 and 2012 and Brown emerging victorious in 2010 and 2014.  Their fifth matchup in 2016 is likely to be closely watched, since their 94th District is key swing territory.

When she was a student at Lindbergh High School, Englund portrayed the feathery mascot "Lind Bird."
Credit Courtesy of Vicki Englund
When she was a student at Lindbergh High School, Englund portrayed the feathery mascot "Lind Bird."

Englund is a south county native, a graduate of Lindbergh High School and of American University in Washington DC. While in high school, she was Lindbergh High School's mascot, Lind Bird.

She ventured back to St. Louis County in 2001 to work for the county’s economic development department.

In 2011, between House terms, she was elected to the Lindbergh School Board. During her last legislative term, Englund joined a handful of legislators around the state who have simultaneously served on their school board.

In 2014, while in the Missouri House, Englund was heavily involved in crafting a wide-ranging school transfer bill – which Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed in 2014. She also sponsored legislation aimed at making it easier for Missouri’s state treasurer to return military medals to the public.

Among Englund's observations during the show:

  • Back in 2004, Englund almost ran for the 6th District seat on the St. Louis County Council. Had she prevailed, it likely would have blocked the political path for Steve Stenger – who eventually won the 6th District seat in 2008 and became county executive six years later.
  • When Englund lost her two House races during non-presidential years, it made her more determined to get back into electoral arena. "You can either say ‘OK, I lost – I’m done.’ Take your toys and go home," she said. "Or you can do what most hardworking Missourians do, which is pick up the pieces, kind of take a look at what happened, and do it again."
  • She expects the union-related issue of “right to work” to be a major focus in her House campaign. Englund is a strong opponent of the policy – which would bar unions and employers from requiring all workers in a bargaining unit to pay union dues or fees.
  • Even after Nixon vetoed school transfer bills two years in a row, Englund says the legislature still needs to figure out some sort of compromise on the issue. Students from Riverview Gardens and Normandy have transferred to south St. Louis County school districts – including Mehlville and Lindbergh.
  • Lawmakers need to comport themselves to higher standards in the wake of high-profile resignations of House Speaker John Diehl, R-Town & Country, and state Sen. Paul LeVota, D-Independence, who both were embroiled in sexually charged controversies involving college-age interns. Referring to service in the General Assembly, Englund said, "This is a job. This is not a frat house."

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Vicki Englund on Twitter: @venlund

Music: “Phantom Limb” by The Shins

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.