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Galloway: Parson has failed on COVID-19 response for schools, economy

Charles Dunlap
cdunlap@gatehousemedia.com
Democratic candidate for governor Nicole Galloway speaks Wednesday at the opening of the Audrain County Democrats' headquarters in Mexico. She pushed for a statewide mask mandate, and a better statewide plan for reopening schools.

The governor has failed in his duties in crafting concrete plans to keep Missouri residents and students safe, which has led the state to being labeled a red zone, Democratic candidate for governor Nicole Galloway said Wednesday.

Galloway spoke at the opening of the Audrain County Democrats’ headquarters in Mexico and criticized Republican Gov. Mike Parson because there is no statewide guidance for school district reopening. Some will open in a matter of days, while others have either delayed or decided to work virtually.

The state needs a better plan to be able to restart its economy and get students back in schools, she said. The state’s education department issued guidelines for reopening, but school districts are implementing plans in different ways.

Galloway, who has been state auditor since 2015, is the only Democrat in statewide office. She is challenging Parson, who was elected lieutenant governor in 2016 and became governor after the resignation of Eric Greitens.

“Parson has had a chance to lead this state and he has failed,” Galloway said.

Missouri health chief, Dr. Randall Williams, on Tuesday said the state is ready for schools to reopen. Galloway does not share this opinion.

“School districts across the state disagree because they are not opening,” Galloway said. “They are delaying start or going online.”

Columbia, for example, pushed back its start date to Sept. 8, with potentially half of students learning from home while the other half will attend schools.

“We will never recover economically, we will never have schools open fully until we contain the spread of the virus,” Galloway said. “Parson has not taken the steps necessary to contain the spread of the virus.”

The state should have a statewide mask order, quick-result testing and increased contact tracing, she said.

“We have all these tools in our toolkit that are available to us to get our economy back on track, to get schools open, but they are not deploying these resources,” Galloway said.

There also should be a statewide strategy for reopening schools, she said. School districts need data and guidance on positivity rates, containment, sanitation supplies and other support resources, but there is no statewide plan, she said.

Groups like Uniting Missouri Political Action Committee have tried to tie an endorsement by Planned Parenthood of Galloway to their calls to defund police after the death of George Floyd in May. Galloway does not seek to defund police, she said.

“All of the characterizations they are making are untrue. I think Missourians know that about me,” she said. “The reason Parson and his campaign are spreading misleading and false information is because he does not want to defend his record on how he is fighting COVID.”

Parson is part of the old system of politics where well-connected insiders get what they want, Galloway said.

“They don’t care about your needs here in this community,” she said. “I want to see true economic development, so every family here has a good job, close to home, where you can provide for your family. Where teachers are paid a wage that values the work that they do. And where working people can have health care.”

Missouri health care will depend on how Medicaid expansion is implemented next year, Galloway said.

Parson, in January, spoke out against expansion, saying it would take money away from education, workforce development, and roads and bridges.

“People can have access to health care, we can create good jobs in parts of our state that need them and we can keep our rural hospitals open,” Galloway said. “It will be my job as governor to implement Medicaid expansion that proves it is good for our state. We can look at the 37 states that have implemented Medicaid expansion and they are enjoying economic and health care benefits, alike.”

SIMMONS SHARES HER VISION

Democrat Lindsey Simmons, who is attempting to unseat Republican incumbent Vicky Hartzler, also was at the Audrain County opening and spoke about her hopes for November.

When President Donald Trump pulled back support from northeastern Syria and Kurdish troops, that is when Simmons reached out to Hartzler’s office. Simmons husband is in the U.S. Army as an Pilot and was serving in the area, she said.

Simons heard no answer until she decided to run for office, she said.

“The day after I announced, they called back to apologize for never getting back to me,” she said. “I let her office know at the time, that I should not have to run for congress to hear from my congressperson.”

Simmons wants to see the first woman vice president in Kamala Harris, who Joe Biden announced as his running mate Tuesday, the first woman Missouri governor in Galloway and a new face in congress if she unseats Hartzler.

INCREASED VISIBILITY

More visibility of the county’s Democratic party was the purpose of Wednesday’s opening.

“We may be outnumbered, but we are not outgunned,” Jamie Blair said, who is part of the party’s leadership. “Politics is about who shows up and we have two fantastic candidates who showed up today and all of you who showed up today.”

Having headquarters will help other county Democrats from feeling like they are alone when surrounded by so many of a different political ideology, Blair said.

“[This is] a blue beacon on Liberty street, and lets them know they have a place to build power and share in the momentum and say at the top of their lungs, ’I am a Democrat,’” she said.

Fourth Congressional District candidate Lindsey Simmons speaks Wednesday at the opening of the Audrain County Democrats's headquarters in Mexico. She will face off against Republican incumbent Vicky Hartzler in the November election.