COLUMBIA – The House candidates for the 21st District share a desire to be a voice for their rural communities, but they differ in their focus on certain issues.
Both Republican candidate John Cauthorn of Mexico, Mo., and Democrat Kelly Schultz of Shaw, are from rural residencies. Cauthorn, 63, who has farmed his whole life, speaks with a soothing country drawl. Schultz, 30 years his junior, doesn’t possess the more obvious accent but has two horses within her family’s pet population to give her a country charm.
At two recent candidate forums, one in September and another this month, each candidate spoke with members of the public with ease. Schultz sits a little more poised, while Cauthorn seems more laid back in his chair, both in pressed suit jackets.
The candidates speak fondly of their children, Cauthorn of his three grown children and Schultz of her adopted 5-year-old daughter and the many foster children she and her husband have cared for in recent years.
Both candidates seek to bring more reliable high-speed Internet access to their rural communities and share an interest in developing renewable energy sources for use by mid-Missouri residents.
“Rural areas have kind of been left out,” Cauthorn said.
Cauthorn talked with AT&T to communicate the issue’s importance to the citizens in Audrain County. He also visited a business in his neighborhood, where he watched employees incorporate fiber-optic Internet service into their business.
“It’s quite a process,” he said of their hard work.
Schultz’s website also mentions the importance of reliable Internet access in the 21st District, noting the quality of life and economic success that are hindered without it.
Schultz said that her aim, if elected, will be to make a connection between legislators and voters. Schultz has been knocking on doors of voters to talk with them because she wants people to see that she is a mom just like everyone else, she said.
A radio ad for her campaign features her asking listeners to call her on her personal cell phone to discuss anything of interest to her future goals in the House. She said that the response has been overwhelming, and that some people are shocked that she answers her phone.
One of her complaints about activity in the Capitol is that legislators often emphasize re-election rather than focusing on immediate issues. She wants to be different.
Cauthorn, who served on the Missouri Senate from 2001 to 2006, worked a lot on energy independence issues during his terms. He said he wants to continue the effort to produce ethanol and biodiesel if he lands in the House. He wants to do what he can to provide more jobs here in America than abroad.
Education and transportation for students are also important issues to Schultz. In addition to wanting lower tuition at the post-secondary level, she wants to see class sizes that are small enough to ensure quality learning, as well as appropriate technology and teacher training.
Schultz addressed transportation issues at last week's candidate forum sponsored by the Columbia Disability Issues Coalition. She expressed concern about an ineffective link between education and transportation, noting that without reliable funding for transportation of rural students to and from school, their education will suffer.