Pouche chosen as fill-in, will face Democrat Vic Abundis in November
wo candidates are vying for a Missouri House seat in which the incumbent has decided not to run again.
Although Missouri Rep. Vic Allred had filed to run for re-election to the 13th District seat this past February and ran unopposed in the recent August primary, he has withdrawn his name as a candidate, according to a press release by Jim Rooney, chairman of the Platte County GOP.
Allred, who first was elected to the seat in 2018, is co-owner of five “JAZZ-A Louisiana Kitchen” restuarants with three Kansas City area locations in addition to one in Texas.
The release states that Allred decided to withdraw for “business and personal reasons” and that it was “not an easy decision” and came too late for removal from the ballot in August.
The Platte County Republican Committee opened the seat to other candidates and held a meeting last week in which they interviewed two candidates and selected Sean Pouche as the Republican candidate who will face off in November with Democrat Vic Abundis.
“No one could have foreseen the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown of businesses by the end of March, nor the delay in getting the economy going again this summer,” Rooney said in the release. “It’s a personal sacrifice to serve in the state legislature in Jefferson City in the best of times.”
The 13th district includes the south and southwest portion of Platte County, including the area just west, south and east of Platte City. The district also includes most of Parkville.
The 44-year-old Texas native grew up around politics and even worked in the political arena before becoming a Park Hill High School English teacher 15 years ago. Abundis, a Mexican American, said he sees his political aspirations as an extension of the public service he has offered as a teacher.
He learned early political lessons, including how the parties can work across the aisle by first watching his mother, Elva Abundis, a Democrat, act as a campaign manager for a Republican district judge. Other political experiences further reinforced this belief, including when he worked as a congressional staff member for Congressman Ciro Rodriguez, who held office when George W. Bush was president. Abundis and others in the congressman’s office routinely met with Republicans.
“I think I’m a guy who can be not just friends with other Democrats, but with those in both parties,” said Abundis, who earned a bachelor’s degree in English in Vermont before becoming a Rockhurst University graduate, where he earned a master’s degree in education. He added that all elected officials, including those in Jefferson City, “have to start working together to get things done.”
If elected, Abundis also plans to draw from other political experiences, including working on the staff of Congressman Joaquin Castro, brother of former presidential candidate Julian Castro. As a constituent affairs officer, he answered questions and responded to problems that the congressman’s constituents faced. The position taught him how to address voter concerns, he said. Abundis also worked a year-long stint as a paralegal for Legal Aid of Western Missouri, where he served helping settle landlord-tenant issues while representing low income residents.
Abundis, who is single, said he is determined to run to represent constituents, not to fulfill a personal political agenda, with aspirations to win a higher office.
“It’s a vanity project,” he said of some elected officials who may have different motivations and “are so caught up in their egos.they want to see their names on stationery.”
If elected, Abundis said he will not insist people refer to him with the title of “Representative.” He added, “This is not a vanity trip for me” and he plans to “be as transparent” as possible, working with people of other parties to reach a compromise. “Let’s have a conversation and see if we can come to common ground,” he said. He considers himself a moderate Democrat, which he calls “a dying breed.that’s not out in left field, but right in the middle.”
The 47-year-old grew up in a political household. His father, Fred Pouche, campaigned when his son was a teen and eventually won a seat and served in the Missouri House of Representatives. Pouche said he helped his father’s campaigns by “putting up a lot of signs” and has modeled “how he interacted with people and how they appreciated him making the effort to talk,” he said.
Sean Pouche, a divorced father of two, said he ran four years ago and described it “as a good experience” although he ultimately lost. Pouche, who grew up in southern Platte County, said he knocked on a lot of doors and listened as voters described their wishes for Platte County.
“People my age and younger have lost faith in our government,” he said, adding that some elected officials are not concerned with the issues that concern voters, which he learned include a good educational system, personal and family safety, making good wages that allow them to own a nice home, preserving the area that drew them to live in Platte County while also embracing the growth in the area. That growth will help the local economy, he said. His goal is to “look out for the little people” and to “represent the voice of the people.”
The Rockhurst High School graduate continued his education in the Merchant Marine Academy, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Marine Transportation. He later earned a U.S. Coast Guard license, which allowed him to serve as an officer aboard a merchant vessel. He was a Lieutenant Commander in the Naval Reserve, was earlier mobilized to serve a year in Iraq and has served as an advisor to senior U.S. Army and Navy commanders. He was promoted to full commander and awarded the Distinguished Meritorious Service Medal for his service in Iraq.
He previously worked as the captain of a casino boat, first in the Kansas City area and finally in Indiana. He joked that he is “a guy from the Midwest who likes the water.” He currently works in the family-owned business, Platte Rental & Supply, which opened in 2000 and has locations in Parkville and Platte City, he said.
The business, which was started by his parents and now is owned by his brother, rents construction, lawn and garden equipment and party and event supplies. His position delivering heavy equipment to homeowners and contractors and working the counter doing customer service has afforded him the opportunity to meet and talk with a lot of Platte Countians, giving him “a pretty good idea of the vibe of people across the county.” He added that the seat calls for a representative “who is not afraid of being a patriot and doing what’s right.” He added, “This is my time and this is how I can make a difference.”