25th District's Democratic candidates speak at forum

Thursday, April 10, 2008 | 12:18 a.m. CDT; updated 12:43 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Democratic candidates for Missouri’s 25th District kicked off their campaigns Wednesday night at the Columbia Public Library by agreeing on two things: education and health care are the most important issues facing mid-Missourians.

In an open forum hosted by Democracy for Missouri, the three Democratic candidates, Bob Pund, Sean Spence and Mary Still, generally agreed on the issues discussed. What showed through, though, was their differences in personality and experience.

“There was a lot of similarity between the candidates,” said Rene Powell, who attended the forum. “It was nice to be able to compare the candidates side by side, though.”

Candie Iveson, a Democratic candidate for the 23rd District, also noticed the repeated themes.

“The candidates had very different styles, but they’re all very good,” Iveson said. “The personal styles are very different, but their values were very similar.”

Pund, a legislative advocate for Disabled Citizens Alliance for Independence, stressed the importance of providing health care to all Missourians. Pund was involved in a car accident while in college and was left paralyzed from the shoulders down.

“I will be tenacious,” Pund said in his closing remarks at the forum. “I went back to school a year after being paralyzed and typed 20-page papers with a mouth stick. I’m going to fight hard for you.”

Spence emphasized his record of grass-roots campaigning and bringing people together from diverse backgrounds to get things accomplished. He has worked for several Missouri politicians, including State Auditor Susan Montee, and for the Columbia Business Times.

“I will fight like hell to get every last Missourian access to health care,” Spence said.

Still, who has directed communications for MU, Attorney General Jay Nixon and former Gov. Bob Holden, said her priorities were education, health care and the economy. In her mind, providing education to the underprivileged is the most important thing Missourians can do.

“I’ve been active in the community for over 20 years,” Still said. “Members of the community know my causes, who I’ve worked for and what I do.”

Other discussion topics included voter identification, “green” businesses and immigration in mid-Missouri. The primary will be held Aug. 5.

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