JEFFERSON CITY — Sam Page paused before sitting down for an interview Oct. 12 to tell his wife he'd be longer than he had expected. She could go ahead and head out with the kids.
The lieutenant governor candidate's family — Jennifer Page and children Logan, Luke and Jake — had joined him in St. Louis at a campaign event at St. Luke Memorial Missionary Baptist Church, where Page received the endorsement of the predominantly black Ecumenical Leadership Council of Missouri.
HOMETOWN: Creve Coeur.
PERSONAL: Age 43; married to Jennifer Page. They have three children, ages 10, 7 and 5.
CAMPAIGN WEB SITE: www.sampage.com
OCCUPATION: 82nd District state representative, medical doctor.
EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, 1988; medical degree, University of Missouri-Kansas City, 1992; attended graduate studies in anesthesiology and pain management at Northwestern University and Washington University School of Medicine.
BACKGROUND: Commissioner of Senior Rx Program; former member of the Creve Coeur City Council; member of St. Louis Rotary International, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, the Missouri State Medical Association, the St. Louis Metropolitan Medical Society and the Missouri Society of Anesthesiologists; board member of the Missouri Consolidated Health Plan.
Page, a Democratic state representative who lives in suburban St. Louis, told the congregation at St. Luke that his upbringing in Van Buren, a town of fewer than 1,000 in southeast Missouri, "was like most folks'."
His parents were divorced when he was in grade school, Page said. Growing up with a single mother who was a school teacher, Page said he learned about his financial status early on when he started getting reduced prices for school lunches.
He received an academic scholarship to attend the University of Missouri-Kansas City, then he borrowed money to pay for medical school, where he met his wife, who was specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation.
Page graduated with a medical degree in anesthesiology in 1992 and completed his residency in Chicago before settling in Creve Coeur in St. Louis County.
At St. Luke, Page outlined three priorities he said have come from personal experience. First, the state must do everything possible to relieve the financial burden on Missouri's working families and to keep families together.
Secondly, he said, "The best way to improve your position in life, and the best way to be in a position to help other people, is to get a good education."
"I want to make sure every child in this state has the same opportunity (I had): equal access to education, to a good job with benefits, to an opportunity to go as far as their mind and ambition will take them," Page said.
His plan would attempt to make college expenditures tax deductible for families earning less than $80,000 per year.
Page's third priority is to increase pay for Missouri teachers. He said the most important aspect of his children's education, in addition to engaged parents at home, is a teacher who's willing to spend time with them in the classroom.
Another platform of Page's campaign is a commitment to reversing cuts made to the state Medicaid program in 2005 that left thousands of Missourians with reduced coverage or with none at all.
"These cuts were not only morally wrong, they were fiscally irresponsible," Page said during a forum in Columbia on disability issues Oct. 4. He said the cuts caused the state to lose about $1.6 billion in federal matching money.
"I've seen the faces of my patients in my medical practice when they stand their prescription drugs across my desk and tell me they can't afford them all," Page said. "They want to know which ones they can get rid of."
"We have taken the state in the wrong direction when it comes to access to health care," he added.
At the forum, hosted by the Congress on Disability Policy, Columbia resident Bob Pund, who is paralyzed from the shoulders down, said one of the jobs of lieutenant governor is being an advocate for people with disabilities.
"Health care is a very important part of it," he added.
Observing that only Democratic candidates for statewide office were present at the forum, Pund said: "Peter Kinder didn't show up. Sam Page did. That means a lot to me."
Gene Oakley, a longtime Van Buren resident who served in the Missouri House of Representatives when Page was still in high school, said the Democrat has a strong commitment to education, particularly in funding for rural school districts.
"I just think he has the right motives for wanting to be lieutenant governor," said Oakley, a retired school superintendent who now serves as Carter County presiding commissioner. "I don't think he has any personal motives, but he wants to do what's best for the state."
Page has also received endorsements from the Missouri Deputy Sheriffs' Association, the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, Communication Workers of America, Local 6355, and the Sierra Club.
For Page, "The question for this election is whether or not you want to change directions."
"We've turned opportunities upside down in Missouri, and we're losing them," he said. "Unemployment's rising, uninsured's rising, college is more expensive. That's not the direction we need to be going."
Page said he stands in contrast to the incumbent Kinder in several areas, including a strong commitment to medical research using stem cells.
The Page campaign has accused Kinder of offering varying views on stem-cell research when speaking in different regions of the state. Page said in a news release that he supports stem-cell research, and, if elected, he would push for medical advances that would make it easier to use blood from umbilical cords in research, thus eliminating the need for embryonic cells.
"My stand is a principled one," Page said. "I can't oppose research that gives hope to children with diabetes, young people who injure their spines, nor the families with parents and grandparents suffering from Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease. I am not taking that hope away from them.
"And that's my position, wherever I am."
Another platform of Page's campaign is penalizing corporations that seek state and local tax breaks and then ship jobs overseas.
Page's plan would require those companies to repay money from economic incentives back to the government.
His campaign Web site states: "(T)ax incentives, regardless of the form, should be awarded only to those firms creating jobs for our state and pledging to keep them here. Firms keeping jobs in the state should be rewarded."
A unique proposal sponsored by Page in the Missouri House of Representatives was the Human Voice Contact Act, which would have required certain state agencies to provide live operator assistance rather than using automated answering equipment for incoming calls.
Asked why he is the best candidate for Missouri's second-in-command, Page returned to an oftenused remark he made in a lieutenant governor debate Sept. 12: "I'm running for lieutenant governor for the same reason I became a doctor: to help people."
"I've spent a lifetime trying to help people," he said later, "and that's what I'll do as lieutenant governor."