Passion and commitment for public service through health care is the thread that ties together the life of Democratic candidate for district three state representative Rebecca McClanahan.
McClanahan, a Kirksville resident for 40 years, said the issues that are important to her as a professional nurse and politician also are important to her as a wife, mother, daughter and granddaughter.
“I’ve never seen a difference between my personal and professional lives,” McClanahan said. “I’m the same person in all of those spheres.”
McClanahan said she was born in Moberly, but spent a few of her early years in Kirksville before moving with her family to follow her father’s job as a minister throughout Missouri and Kansas. She returned to Kirksville during 1972 to attend Northeast Missouri State University, which is now Truman State.
While attending college, McClanahan said she followed her calling as a nurse by obtaining her bachelor’s degree in nursing. After graduation, she was offered a job as a temporary assistant clinical instructor at the University.
She said she hoped to eventually teach nursing, but didn’t anticipate the opportunity presenting itself so soon after graduating.
“My career as a nursing instructor came much earlier than I had expected,” McClanahan said “But I had always believed I would blend those two roles.”
While teaching at the University, she said she was provided a stipend to help pay for her master’s degree in community mental health from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
After completing that degree she returned to Truman as a full-time faculty member. She said she later took a sabbatical to pursue a doctorate from the University of Kansas. She completed the course work for the program but never wrote a dissertation.
McClanahan said her passion for nursing left a mark on her personal life as well. She said her interest in children’s health and her specialty as a psychiatric mental health nurse led her and her husband, Marvin McClanahan, to care for several foster children.
“[Taking in foster children] really grew out of concerns I had as a nurse,” McClanahan said.
The couple eventually adopted the first foster child they cared for, Andrew. McClanahan said Andrew now is 40 and an integral part of her family. She has another son, Bryan, and one granddaughter, Amélie.
McClanahan said she was interested in politics throughout her life, partially because her family always had been involved in politics and her father ran for political offices. This interest was fueled by an experience she said she had as a nursing student involving health care legislation throughout Missouri.
She participated with hundreds of nurses throughout the state in lobbying and advocating for a vetoed bill about nursing practices to be overridden by the legislature. She said the bill ultimately was overridden because of the efforts.
“Those experiences were such a poignant illustration for me of the power of citizens influencing the legislative process,” McClanahan said. “So I was hooked.”
She said the experience prompted her to take her students to the Capitol to participate in the Missouri Nurses Association’s advocacy day each year, a tradition that still is practiced by senior nursing students at Truman.
McClanahan said she also is active with Kirksville nonprofit organizations, many of which are related to the health care field. She currently is the president of the Missouri Nurses Association and does volunteer work through her church.
The thread of nursing even extends into her hobbies, which she said include taking walks for spiritual and physical renewal, specialty cooking, entertaining and reading.
Of all the influences in Republican candidate for district three State Representative Nate Walker’s life, he credits family as the guidance force for where he is today.
As a single parent for the last 20 years, Walker said much of his time has revolved around his two sons, Madison and Sam. Although both sons are grown and no longer living in the house, he said he maintains the strong bond he formed with them while they were young.
“We’re very close,” Walker said. “They’re very concerned for their dad and very supportive [of the campaign].”
He said while the boys were young they spent a lot of time working on the farm together. He said he coached their sports teams and encouraged them to pursue any degree or career goals they wanted.
“Being a single dad was a unique challenge, but it was a blessing in some ways,” Walker said.
The influence of family can be seen in Walker’s choice of hobbies. He said he and his sons are Cardinals fans and attend Kansas City Chiefs games together. He said one of his favorite things is to be outside, and he enjoys spending time on his family’s farm.
“Whenever I get out of balance I can go down there and walk in the fields that I walked in as a kid,” Walker said.
Walker said his interest with politics and public service dates back to his own childhood. He said he grew up on the family farm in Anabel, Mo., a small town in Macon County, and attended a one room schoolhouse until high school. He said politics and public service always have been a part of his life.
Walker said his paternal grandfather was active with the local Democratic party, and his maternal grandfather was active with the local Republican party. His grandfathers served on the school board, city council and county commission.
He gained campaign experience as a child while helping with his uncle Ronald Belt’s campaign for state legislature.
“I remember as a young child going campaigning with my family,” Walker said. “I learned a little about [politics] then.”
As an adult, Walker said he continues the family tradition of community involvement through his work in politics and his participation in local organizations.
After completing his undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Walker said he worked as a research analyst for the Missouri House of Representatives before eventually running for district 12 state representative. He served two terms in the legislature during the 1980s and has since worked for several government agencies, as well as economic development agencies and other organizations.
He said he initially intended to run for the Adair County commissioner seat during this election, but after Rep. Wyatt pulled out of the race for the House seat, he was approached by several people about filling the vacancy. He said he has put his work as a realtor in Kirksville on hold to work full time on his campaign.
Walker said he also is involved in multiple local organizations including the Kirksville Chamber of Commerce, Kirksville Rotary Club and the United Way.
“Wherever I’ve lived, I’ve always been involved in the community,” Walker said. “I’m the kind of person who will probably never retire.”