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For Candidates, Campaigning In The Age Of Coronavirus Can Be Tricky

April 13, 2020 Yinka Faleti Michelle Sherod
Provided by the candidates

Yinka Faleti began preparing for a run for office long before the coronavirus pandemic upended life in Missouri. But now he finds himself as the Democratic nominee for Missouri secretary of state even as he navigates a situation common to many St. Louisans in this bizarre time — working with his wife, a director at Wells Fargo Advisors, to care for and educate their four children at home.

It’s not easy. Faleti’s communications manager says they were recently on a 1 a.m. conference call. 

And home-schooling duties are just one way COVID-19 has shaken up Faleti’s schedule. Now, instead of angling for meet and greets, he’s trying to connect with donors on social media. He recently hosted a virtual town hall on Facebook.  

“We were able to have a lot of folks tuning in live, and, to date, we’ve had over 6,000 viewers of that town hall in Missouri and even outside of Missouri,” he reported Monday on St. Louis on the Air. “We’ve had to be more agile and adaptive.” Having so many people stuck at home, he suggested, does give “some advantages.”

Joining the discussion was Michelle Sherod. A longtime aide to former U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Sherod is making her first run for office. She hopes to replace state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, by winning a crowded Democratic primary this August.

Sherod said she was knocking on doors long before the pandemic mandated people shelter at home. Now she’s running a small business and attempting to follow up with voters without seeing them in person.

“It is a big change to now be working from home and transitioning to our new normal, and utilizing social media platforms to make it happen,” she said. “It’s exciting, it’s challenging, but it’s also fun, to be able to connect right here from my own kitchen.”

Listen:

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Joshua Phelps. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

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Sarah Fenske joined St. Louis Public Radio as host of St. Louis on the Air in July 2019. Before that, she spent twenty years in newspapers, working as a reporter, columnist and editor in Cleveland, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles and St. Louis.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.