With election days away, Missouri 48th District candidates weigh in

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News

With the general election on Tuesday Democrat Bill Betteridge and Republican Tim Taylor both agree that they can see light at the end of the tunnel. 

They are running against each other for the 48th District seat in the Missouri House of Representatives. 

Bill Betteridge, Democratic Candidate for Missouri House of Representatives 48th District

Betteridge ran unopposed in the Aug. 4. primary election. Taylor won by over 600 votes as the Republican nominee against Don Baragary 1,795-1,103. 

There is expected to be a higher voter turnout Tuesday when compared to the primaries, which only saw 4,252 ballots cast for a 36.9% turnout.

Campaigns are hectic, Betteridge said Tuesday.

“You’re trying to do 1,000 things at once and tie up every loose end that you thought you had time to take care of, but you’ve just realized that you probably don’t,” Betteridge said. “It’s been a fascinating journey, though.”

Campaign finance filings with the Missouri Ethics Commission on Monday reported his campaign just has $127 left in cash on hand. His campaign raised just over $18,000 this election cycle. He still has about $7,000 in outstanding debt. 

Tim Taylor

Taylor on Tuesday said his brain is just getting worn out. He is fine physically, but mentally it is challenging to keep the pace going.

“The weather has helped here the last couple of days,” Taylor said “We basically took yesterday off because of the weather, although that’s not totally true because I was working on interviews for this morning.

He had about $4,600 in cash on hand as of Monday, according to election filings. He has about $4,500 in outstanding debt in the runup to Tuesday. His campaign has raised about $33,000 this election cycle. 

He also was receiving calls from potential constituents who had questions. That is something he wanted. 

"You just plug along and hope that there’s a breather a little bit at the end of it,” Taylor said.

Issues at hand

Although Betteridge is retired after 36 years in Missouri Public Schools, he said he’s been keeping busy with farming and driving a school bus for the Pilot Grove School District.

He’s had many chances to interact with people of all stripes as the possible future representative.

“It’s been an amazing time for me to visit with the folks out there,” Betteridge said. “The big issues that I’m hearing, and they’re important to me, is education. People are concerned  and particularly with COVID-19, and how we get a handle on this thing and get things back to normal."

Other concerns are focused on agriculture, infrastructure and rural broadband. People want quality internet in the rural areas that currently do not have it. 

“People are always concerned about our roads,” Betteridge said, “And then this being a big agricultural district, they also want to talk a lot about that along with schools.”

For Taylor, he's heard from people most about the economy. People want to know how to get it back up and running.

“We’ve got to get this economy going, safely of course, but so much hinges on getting this economy back up and running and it’s moving that direction," he said. 

Education is another focus. 

“We all know that money got held back,” Taylor said. “The governor released some of that, which is great, and he did that because the economy is improving so what my main goal this year is going to be just a learning curve." 

Taylor does not plan to offer legislation in his first year, but does want to be able to oppose any bad legislation. He is seeking to be added to the budget committee, which will give him the most to learn in his first year. 

Everything goes through budget he wants to see that if there are any cuts, the absolute last thing that is touched is education. 

Taylor's interest has grown to include how agriculture products are shipped. He wants to find avenues to promote ways to increase food availability directly from produces to consumers.

“I sat in on the joint commission on agriculture about a month ago and they laid out some of the things that were going to be coming up in the next session,” he said. “Some of the things were foreign money in our agriculture and what that effects can play on us."

There are Japanese companies seeking to purchase port facilities along rivers, he added.

"So, that brings to light foreign ownership of our agriculture [as] something that people are concerned about," Taylor said.

Why they ran

Being a state representative is just another way to serve people in the 48th District, Taylor said. 

He wanted to serve in the military and after that was a firefighter. 

After I retired from the fire department, I just felt as though I still wanted to give back to the community, Taylor said.

“I felt like I could do this in a larger role with the 48th District and I feel like I have enough use and vitality to do this well," he said. "[I have] enough life experience that it’s going to pay off for everybody." 

Betteridge had several motivations for running, but it also involved serving the public.

After his mother died in last February, her dedication of service as an educator aided his decision.

“My mother had given of herself and had helped others and I had thought this was a great way to honor that and her memory and get out and do some good work for the people of the 48th District,” Betteridge said. 

Betteridge was a teacher for Pilot Grove, Otterville, Blackwater, Sedalia and Northwest of Hughesville. Betteridge said he is probably five miles from Taylor’s house.

“Every year they have a trivia event at the Knights of Columbus for the Cooper County Historical Society, and Tim and Dawn have been very involved in that and we always participate in that,” Betteridge said. “I’ve known Tim.”

Taylor said it’s tough going up against Betteridge, who he considers a friend.

“I knew Donnie (Baragary) during the primary, so I always knew personally that was never going to speak ill of anybody,” Taylor said. “It bodes well for us in Cooper County that the three of us were vying for this position."

It shows how politically active the county is, he added.

"Regardless of how it turns out at least we know we are going to have good representation for the 48th District," Taylor said. "As far as I’m concerned, we’re still going to be friends when it’s all said and done.”