KALAMAZOO — A Kalamazoo-area teacher has joined the race for the 6th Congressional District seat currently held by Fred Upton.

Jen Richardson, D-Kalamazoo, is in the process of collecting signatures after she filed to run for office in mid-November.

“I feel our voices are not being represented in Congress,” said Richardson. “It should represent our population. … It reminds me of a lesson from history class. We are being taxed, but we don’t have representation. We don’t have policies helping our communities.”

Richardson, who grew up outside of Chicago, is a part-time teacher who focuses on research science at the Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center.

The 35-year-old candidate said she is running with a campaign slogan that she refers to as #JensNotRich.

She said she hopes her campaign can serve as a disruption to the current political system. Richardson has not held public office before.

“The message is we keep wondering why it is getting easier for the rich to get richer. There are no policies helping the rest of us,” Richardson said. “Candidates are raising lots of money. But at the end of the day, people vote – not dollars.”

Richardson is married with two daughters, ages 4 and 2.

Richardson is the second Democrat to join the race for the district’s congressional seat. Back in April, state Rep. Jon Hoadley confirmed his plans to run.

Upton, R-St. Joseph, first elected in 1986, claimed his 17th consecutive term in November 2018 over Democratic challenger Matt Longjohn. Upton was re-elected by 4.5 percentage points, his closest challenge in many years. The race also saw millions of dollars in spending from independent groups.

As 2019 winds down, Upton has not officially announced his intention to run again in 2020. 

The 6th Congressional District includes Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties and most of Allegan County.

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