The race between 19th District Senator Kurt Schaefer and Representative Mary Still is for the newly drawn district of Cooper and Boone Counties. Both feel that Columbia and Boonville can work well together. The debate, heated at times, represented the differences between the candidates and where they stood. Both agree on representing of the residents of the 19th District to the best of their ability.
In their opening statements, Schaefer said he is responsible for the budget in the senate. He said that he has increased money to education, much more than the governor suggested. Still said that she was from Arkansas and that she shares values with Republicans as well but is pro-choice. Still also said she supports the middle class because she feels it is getting squeezed.
"One of my biggest issues is education and I am proud to say that since I have been Chairman of the Appropriations Committee that we have allocated more money for education for fiscal year 2013 than ever before. I was able to work with Democrat and Republican representatives which will provide funding for schools such as State Fair Community College which you are partnering with," Schaefer said.
"One thing I enjoy about this race is campaigning in Cooper County which reminds me so much of my home town. One thing about living in a small town is you do not pay much attention to anyone's political party. We would all work together to get things done. This is what I love about coming to Boonville, there is always an activity," Still said.
Below are Questions and Answers from Thursday's debate between Still and Schaefer.
Q: What is your position on the internet sales tax?
Schaefer: We have businesses in Missouri who make money off of the internet and if we impose a tax on these businesses which would hurt them. The Federal Government must pass a national standard.
Still: I do support the internet sales tax. Our local businesses are at a six to nine percent disadvantage. If companies are doing business well they will know how to handle the internet tax.
Q: What approach would you take with dealing with rising crime?
Still:My father was a prosecutor and I worked 12 years in the Attorney Generals office of which I was very active with. I must tell you that this is a moving target. We got to stay on top of that. We got to keep are communities safe along with keeping law and order up.
Schaefer: As the Chairman of the Approcirations committee I expanded funding for Drug Court. We have to find an alternative to get people off of drugs. When it comes to violence and crime, we have to separate that out. I am a former death penalty prosecutor for the Attorney General's Office. I have prosecuted cases all over the state of Missouri and I see what drugs can do to people. If you can get to it early and intervene with Drug Court, there has been many successes. I have put extra money into Drug Court for that reason. If that does not work, you have no alternative but to protect public safety. I have sponsored legislation to crack down on sexual predators and people who take advantage of children and I will keep doing that.
Page 2 of 2 - Q: How would you cross party lines to get things accomplished?
Schaefer: I have passed over 50 bills with Republicans and Democrats. For example, I passed a bill dealing with child neglect and abuse. It strengthened penalties and strengthen our courts and provided money to crack down on those things.
Still:I am a minority in the House. I have to be creative to get things done. I have helped sponsor and pass amendments. For example, I have passed legislation to help Columbia so they could expand their law enforcement.
Q: What do you feel is the role of federal and state government?
Still: I agree that government is closest to the citizens. I also agree that government is to serve the common good and not the wealthy or special interest. There is a role for government such as for infrastructure, law enforcement and schools. I am very receptive about keeping government as close to the people as possible.
Schaefer: The state of Missouri has responsibility for it public education with the Federal Government with some a small role as well. Our teachers should not have to use money out of their own pocket for supplies, the state needs to take care of the people. I do not think the Federal Government needs to come in here and tell us what to do since they are eating up all of our education money with medicaid and other things they force us to pay for to the detriment of the decisions we would make for our own citizens. This has got to stop!
Further into the debate concerns from the audience were heard. One concern dealt with strings attached to education funding.
Schaefer: Nothing frustrates me more when money comes down from the government with strings attached and we cannot place it where it needs to go.
Still: Schools should be able to use funds how they see fit. I do not agree with funding charter schools which are not successful which is hurting the budget since it is for profit.