An array of questions focusing on the rights of the citizens, current economic and social issues greeted candidates at the final Meet the Candidates Night held Thursday night at the Cooper County Court House. The Boonville Area Chamber of Commerce invited candidates to attend so members of the local community and media could have a last chance to submit questions that they feel need answered. Candidates included Missouri Representative Republican Candidate Caleb Jones, who represents the 50th District, 47th District Republican candidate Mitch Richards, and the contested race between the 48th District of Democrat candidate Ron Monnig and Republican candidate Dave Muntzel. The crowd consisted of more than 54 people. Local resident Mike Conway moderated the forum.
Representative Caleb Jones, who is running unopposed, addressed the crowd asking for their vote.
"I have represented Cooper County for two years now and since they have redrawn the map, I now represent a portion of Cooper County. It is a great county. I appreciate your support if you can give it to me. The big question is, what kind of government do you want? We need to continue to hold our elected officials accountable," Jones said.
In opening statements for candidate for state representative, Muntzel listed reasons why he was running for the position. He said he would bring common sense back to Jefferson City. He said he is pro-life, pro-gun and a very conservative person. He also said there are a lot issues on the table today that interest him such as making sure much of the red tape that hinder small businesses is removed so they can stay open.
"We are at the bottom of the list for creating jobs. The whole idea is to help small businesses stay on their feet because they are the life blood of this country," Muntzel said.
Monnig, said he is a retired small business owner.
"This race is about the future of rural Missouri and about small business. It's about giving family and students opportunities to be successful in the 21st century. As your elected official in Jefferson City, I will continue to stand up for you. All too often our rural municipalities are overbooked or forgotten. Our state should not turn away Federal Tax Money because of ideology in Washington D.C. I want to see a brighter future for my children and grandchildren and less government," Monnig said.
Richards said he is looking forward to the election.
"The government should not tell us how to live our lives or make any decisions for us. I think government is here to protect our right to life. I am a standard conservative in many ways but an independent thinker as well. I am pro-gun, pro-life and pro-market. I want make sure our farmers and small businesses are protected against unnecessary regulations," Richards said.
Page 2 of 4 - The following will be responses to questions the Boonville Daily News had for the candidates.
Question: In our current economic standing how do you see Missouri and our area competing with other states or nations for jobs? How do you plan to bring more jobs here and make it more enticing for businesses to relocate here without possibly giving tax incentives?
Muntzel: We do need to do a lot of things to attract businesses. Maybe some tax credits may be good for some businesses but we need to make sure that we do not get into the same situation as the one in Moberly. I think we can improve in education so we can keep people attracted to our universities and schools.
Monnig: An important thing that we did in Slater was zoning for enterprises. In Slater we worked very hard to develop public, private partnerships and those efforts have ended with GE closing plants in China and Texas to relocate to Slater.
Richards: As a proponent for the free market I can't say I am the biggest fan of tax credits. I look at each situation at a macro-economic standpoint. As a state we are in the 40-50 percent range in job creation. If we look to our neighbor, Kansas, which is a 'right to work state,' it has cut personal income taxes and have cut businesses income taxes as well. If we implement similar ideas we will not have to raise taxes on people.
Question: What will the overall impact of the 2012 drought be on Missouri's economy and how will you minimize the effect and how do you plan to help the farmers who have been impacted the most aside from giving low interest loans?
Richards: We need to stay by the farmers at this time of difficulty. The farming economy is very important to Missouri. This is a time when we have a lot of regulation on farmers from the state and federal level. Because of this I have met many farmers who have chosen not to expand or hire any additional people because of the regulation. We should demand that the only regulations in place are those that are truly necessary for safety.
Muntzel: Removing the red tape from farmers would help out immensely. Farmers have to spend a lot of money on keeping up on current regulation. The latest one on the table is dust control. This regulation will result in farmers having to purchase special machines to harvest crops as to not make as much dust. Another area is controlling expenses with putting out crops.
Monnig: The drought has been devastating and when I began my campaign I issued a statement to our legislators that we need to make a committee to study this. They heeded my advice so we may have a plan in the future. We must do this also for flood control as well. Its been 20 years since the great flood of '93 and we do not have any plans in place to deal with a similar disaster?
Page 3 of 4 - Question: Boonville has over 450 sites and structures on the national register of historic places, what is your opinion and stance on historic preservation?
Monnig: This is a subject close to my heart. I studied history in college and I recognized the value of historic buildings. All we have to do is look around the 48th district and see the expansion of America since Lewis and Clark. I think we can learn from the values and lessons from the past as we continue to move forward. We need to preserve our history so we may be able to pass it along to our children and our grandchildren.
Richards: What we are in the past is what we are in our future. In Columbia we have done a lot to maintain a lot sites and buildings which I think we have done a pretty good job. We need to preserve our states history so we may be able to pass that on to future generations.
Muntzel: One example of historic preservation is the library in Sedalia of which they fixed it up against much opposition. In Boonville there are so many historical buildings. For example, Thespian Hall is a very remarkable place. If these buildings are gone, how can I take my grandchildren to see these sites and show them the history of Missouri and the United States.
In closing statements, each candidate thanked the audience for attending. Richards expressed the need for a free market and the rights of the people. Monnig said he is committed to making sure rural Missouri is not forgotten in Jefferson City. Muntzel said his ear will be open to all of his constituents and feels there is a challenge with socialism that needs dealing with.
United States Representative Libertarian Candidate, Thomas Holbrook said he is running on a simple platform of freedom. He said that one of his major issues that persuaded him to politics was the United States Patriot Act. He feels this act turned the American people into suspects which did not make much sense to him. He also said that the monetary system needs an overhaul and that the government should not be borrowing from the Federal Reserve.
Question: More and more college graduates are leaving college with mortgage size debts before age 24. How do you propose to fix this problem while providing students the opportunity to see their dream through while hassling with ever rising higher education costs?
Holbrook: The first things we need to ask is why is the cost of education is going up? In today's environment it is very difficult for private institutions to compete and offer an efficient cost without federal aid. A huge part of our problem is our monetary system which needs fixed.
Question: What do you believe is the biggest obstacle facing the poor and the middle class in Missouri and the United States right now?
Page 4 of 4 - Holbrook: The biggest obstacle right now would have to be the attack on civil liberties with the U.S. Patriot Act.
Question: Since The Affordable Heath Care Act is law, what is your stance on the law and what would you call affordable to the citizens of the United States? Please provide a percentage of income?
Holbrook: Should they tell people what we can do is the issue. Come 2014 we will get penalized for not having health insurance. I believe the ruling by the Supreme Court was wrong by ruling it could be used as a tax. I am opposed with the government telling us we need healthcare. A better solution would be to get cooperate influence of the pharmaceutical industry out of Washington.
In Tuesday's paper, we will conclude with the Questions and Answers Debate between the contested race between Missouri State Senator Kurt Schaefer and 19th District Representative Mary Still.