Glenn Nielsen was born and raised by the Midwest ethic of hard work, personal responsibility and self-reliance.
That ethic is evident with Nielsen’s eight years in the United States Navy — serving three years on a nuclear-powered submarine and learning how to operate nuclear power plants — and later starting his own business.
In 1983, Nielsen moved to Missouri from Durand, Illinois, and began working at the newly opened Callaway nuclear power plant.
“At that time, there were a lot of nuclear power plants under construction, all across the country, and the plant here in Missouri drew me. I can’t really say why it was, it just seemed like it was the best job offer at the time, but I’m glad I chose Missouri,” he said.
Nielsen is running as a Libertarian for Missouri state representative in House District 45, which serves Columbia and Boone County. If elected, he will replace Kip Kendrick. Kendrick served the 45th District from 2015-2021, resigning in January to serve as chief of staff for Sen. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City.
Following Kendrick’s resignation, Gov. Mike Parson called for a special April 6 election to fill the vacant seat. Nielsen will be the first non-Democrat to run for this seat since 2016.
Forging a new pathWhile working at Callaway, Nielsen realized he “had an aptitude and interest in computer software development (and) computer programming,” so he started his own business in software development.
It was during this time that “home computers were just becoming available, and someone recommended to me that it was something that they enjoyed and I might enjoy it. So I went and bought a very low cost home computer and immediately found that I enjoyed it and immediately got started doing computer programming.”
Nielsen said he began working as a computer programmer at the University of Missouri and helped “bring the internet to public institutions like schools, libraries and dial-up internet for the public in areas which had no internet services.”
And it was the internet that introduced Nielsen to the principles of the Libertarian Party.
It is “the non-aggression principle, the principle of property rights that you own your own body and free markets and economics (are) the driving principles” that make Nielsen represent the Libertarian Party.
Nielsen worked as the Missouri Libertarian Party’s webmaster from 2002 to 2015 and party chair from 2007 to 2010.
Regarding his qualifications, Nielsen said he has. “the knowledge I’ve gained from being active in issues over the last several decades. … One unique aspect, as a Libertarian, is that I can look at issues from a fresh perspective, perhaps, that the Republicans and the Democrats won’t have.” Nielsen said that with increased polarization between the two major parties, “I can understand that perspective on both sides and perhaps find common ground.”
Nielsen’s main priority if elected would be to focus on criminal justice reform, citing the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the protests that took place in 2020.
“(It) has led to a growing momentum to actually try to achieve some real criminal justice reform, and that’s an issue that I’m very passionate about. ... I felt it was time that there was a libertarian voice on some of these issues.”
If elected, Nielsen would be the first non-Democrat to represent the 45th District since the last redistricting in 2012.
When asked what he would like to say to potential voters, Nielsen said:
“Democracy as defined by libertarians (is) two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner. And I think you know how that vote will come out. What I’ve noticed in this campaign is that the Democrats in the state of Missouri view the Republicans as the wolves and they are the sheep. And they are afraid of what the Republican majority here in Missouri will do to affect their interests. At the national level, it’s the opposite. Republicans look at the Democrats as (if) they are the wolves.”
Nielsen said that a core problem in government is that the two majority parties spend their time fighting to obtain power and then rewarding their supporters. “And that is what leads to the polarization that we currently have, that too much power is in the hands of the government. As Lord Acton says: power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”