My name is Dr. Maren Bell Jones and I am so thankful for the chance to represent Missouri’s 44th state house district!
While I was born in Omaha, Nebraska, I am a fourth generation Missouri resident. My great grandfather raised horses on their farm near Windsor, Missouri and my grandfather was director of the Missouri Bureau of Vital Records in Jefferson City and served in World War II. My father was born in St. Louis and is a 23 year veteran of the United States Army. Two of my three brothers are also military veterans. My mother was originally a nurse and then was a stay at home mom for us four kids. Unfortunately my mother also had to become a full time caregiver for my father, a 100% service connected disabled veteran, as he grew older and the effects of the injuries he received in his service to our country took its toll.
While I was growing up, we moved all over the country and even to Germany due to my father’s job in the Army. Like members of many military families, this helped grow my sense of self reliance and perseverance, but I was looking for a place to call home after moving so often. My father earned a bachelors and masters degrees in business at the University of Missouri, we visited my grandparents in Jefferson City regularly, and we attended Tiger football games, so I was already familiar with central Missouri when I chose MU for college starting in 2000.
I graduated cum laude and from the Honors College at Mizzou in 2004 with two bachelors degrees in biological sciences and religious studies and a minor in history. In 2006, I married my college sweetheart and St. Louis native Sam Jones (MU MBA 2010, BSBA 2006) in Columbia. I went on to complete a masters degree in biological science in 2007 with my masters thesis research looking into the effects of nutrition on endocrine disrupting chemicals. I also chose Mizzou for veterinary medical school and graduated in 2011 with a doctorate in veterinary medicine.
After graduation from vet school, the recession had hit us hard. Even going solely in-state at MU with various scholarships, working many part time jobs, and living frugally, the student loan payments quickly and frighteningly added up. Jobs for vets were very scarce as the disposable income of many working and middle class people dried up in the recession. In addition, my husband was laid off not once but twice in the years of the recession. It was sobering and humbling to have six degrees between the two of us and having to struggle finding full time employment.
Not one to back away from a challenge, I decided to start up my own housecall veterinary practice in Columbia in 2011. In a very competitive market, I serve the medical needs of dogs, cats, pocket pets, sheep, goats, and even the occasion reptile all over central Missouri.
Much of my day is spent driving through central Missouri from the busy streets and subdivisions in Columbia to the farms in Boone County and all seven adjacent counties! Unlike most “mortar and brick” veterinary practices, a house call based service really puts you touch with your clients and their pets in their own homes. I am honored to be entrusted with their care for the last seven years.
So as a local veterinarian, why did I become inspired to run for my local state house representative spot? Simply because I believe in a representative democracy. Do you feel like your values are being represented right now in Jefferson City? Or in Washington, DC? I don’t.
Truth be told, I’ve never been much of a politician. I’m usually the one getting stuff done in the background while everyone else worries about popularity contests! But I see how hard it is for average people to feel like the issues they worry about are being heard because I’ve been there. From struggling to make ends meet due to lack of a job, being without health insurance, and an intimidating amount of student debt to the growing pains of starting a local small business, I see what good, honest folks go through because I’ve been there myself.
Another reason I want to run is because I believe in evidence-based, factual, no nonsense public policy that makes sense. No “alternative facts” needed! Science shapes so many aspects of public policy from medical care and the environment to education and agriculture. As I was trained as a biologist before I was trained as a veterinarian, you can count on facts and data to win me over, not dark money campaign contributions.
No matter your political affiliation or whether you live in the rural areas or the city, issues like jobs, the economy, healthcare, education, agriculture, and infrastructure are all important to everybody in central Missouri!
I look forward to get to know you all better and to serve our community on a local level with fresh ideas and a new perspective.
Yours in solidarity,
-Maren Bell Jones
Candidate for the 44th Missouri House District