On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome state Rep. Bill Otto the program.
The Maryland Heights Democrat is running against U.S. Rep.Ann Wagner in Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District. Wagner, a Republican from Ballwin, is slated to record an episode of the podcast next week.
On the show, Otto touched on his tough upbringing: After his mother died when he was 15, Otto lived in a boys’ home. He was homeless when he was 17, but credits the help of teachers for getting his life on track. He received his GED, joined the Navy and worked as an air traffic controller. Otto also served on the Bridgeton City Council.
In 2012, Otto won a hard-fought contest to represent the 70th District. It’s arguably one of the most competitive House districts in Missouri, taking in parts of St. Louis County and St. Charles County. Despite the bad environment for Democrats in 2014, he won re-election.
Since he announced for Congress last year, Otto has raised about $400,000. That’s much less than Wagner, but more than the two previous Democratic candidates who have run for the 2nd Congressional seat. The 2nd District leans toward the GOP, but is not as overwhelmingly Republican as Missouri’s other Republican-leaning congressional districts.
Here’s what Otto had to say during the show:
- The fact that he represents a competitive House district “really fit his personality.” “I would prefer to have a competitive district where folks ask real questions about real issues,” he said. “It absolutely fits who I am and how I see politics.”
- If he wins his race, he wouldn’t stay in Congress for more than four terms. He wants to ensure that residents of the 2nd District “have a voice in their government.”
- If he’s elected to Congress, Otto says one of his biggest priorities is bringing more federal attention to the West Lake landfill and Bridgeton landfill situation.
- One of the challenges Otto’s faced is convincing people that the 2nd District is less Republican-leaning than when U.S. Rep. Todd Akin represented it. He noted that a number of Democratic state representatives and state senators represent big portions of the district. “I think what the district would like to have is to have someone who will pay attention to them,” Otto said. “They’ll represent their needs, no matter what side of the spectrum they’re on.”
Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum
Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies
Follow Bill Otto on Twitter: @billotto1
Music: “Slow Hands” by Interpol