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Voters speak up about issues important to them

Tuesday, November 2, 2010 | 7:13 p.m. CDT; updated 8:30 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, November 2, 2010

COLUMBIA — Residents headed to the polls Tuesday to vote on issues such as dog breeding and taxation as well as races both local and statewide. Below, a selection of voices from Election Day.

U.S. SENATE RACE

"I voted for (Robin) Carnahan because when the Carnahans were in office, there was great prosperity."

— Janis Fielder, 62, homemaker

"I think (the Senate race) is going to affect a lot of what funds come to Missouri and don't come to Missouri and our economy."

— Cynthia Murray, 46, registered nurse

"I'm tired of Obama and his free-wheeling spending. He's got a philosophy that if you've got a problem, you just throw money at it. Tax-supported entities must live within their income. ... Obama prints money as he sees fit and as he thinks he needs it. I'm just anti-Carnahan. When Carnahan was governor he bankrupt(ed) the state, and, in a shady deal, when he died, the Senate seat was given to his widow. ... Now the Carnahan kids think it's easier to be in office than to earn a living."

— Robert Boxley, 77, retired

"Getting the Blunt-Carnahan race out of the way, so we don't have to listen to them anymore because they are very negative. I didn't like their campaign. I voted for the Libertarian partly because of that."

— Terri Johnson, 48, customer service representative

"Robin Carnahan, in 1989, was the leader of the anti-Proposition B campaign opposing conceal-carry of weapons. I'm a lifelong Democrat ... and anyone that opposes constitutional rights does not deserve to be an elected official. They have to swear to uphold the Constitution. ... I don't want her to be my U.S. Senator."

— Greg Robinson, 64, attorney

"I was trying to get Robin Carnahan in office, but I don't think that's going to happen. I like that she supports health care, really, really important, pro-choice, all the things that the Democrats stand for basically."

— Marsha Uphoff, 57, retired

"The ... Senate race was important to me. They influence a lot of laws that we make at a very difficult time in our country."

— Deborah Kuntz, 55, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation office manager

"I just felt the senator race is really important this election with the way things are going on in Washington."

— Bill Lear, 54, Columbia Daily Tribune post-production worker

"My primary reason for being here is to vote for Robin Carnahan for U.S. Senate."

— Zack Wardell, 40, MU physics graduate student and instructor

"I don't want to see (Roy) Blunt get in there. It looks like Missouri will be voting for Blunt, but I wanted to do what I could to stop that."

— John O'Laughlin, 47, self-employed

"I didn't care for either Blunt or Carnahan. To me it's like the Bushes versus Kennedys; that's what Blunt and Carnahan are for Missouri. Carhanan is too close to Obama and will be voting for everything that he wants. Blunt is too close to Bush. I didn't vote for either of them. I didn't feel like either of them deserved to be elected. I figured I'd give my say even if it's a small percentage."

— Ryan Morman, 23, substitute teacher

"I think what's going to happen is that we are going to get conservatives in office. The city is liberal, but the county is conservative. ... The economy is down, so we need to have some relief from taxation. We need honesty in government, and Carnahan definitely is not. I wish we had a better selection of choices, but I had to pick the lesser of the two evils."

— Timothy Billups, 52, business owner

"I thought the propositions were interesting. I feel strongly about a couple of them. I don't mind being taxed. I am an American, and if we want our infrastructure and we still want to be a great country, we can't oppose all taxation. I think that people are in an anti-tax mood and are going to come out because times are hard."

— Susan Hanan, 63, retired high school teacher

I think the Senate race between Carnahan and Blunt is probably the most important because either one of those people will be representing mid-Missouri in Washington."

— Adam Troutwine, 30, attorney

"I think the senatorial race is the most important or interesting. It is going to have an effect on national politics. I'm a Democrat, and I think the Democrats have made some good changes, some progressive moves, that I would hate to see pushed back."

— Bradford Boyd-Kennedy, 62, church youth leader

9TH DISTRICT U.S. REPRESENTATIVE

"The thing the I was most sad about, actually, is that I couldn't find a U.S. House representative that aligned with my values at all."

— Matthew Mower, 27, MU graduate student

PROPOSITION A

"I think the earnings tax is a statewide issue, I guess, that can affect the city's abilities to make money and generate revenue."

— Adam Troutwine, 30, attorney

"Prop A was the most important. I am originally from Kansas City, and 40 percent of the budget would be wiped away if they got rid of the earnings tax. I'm not optimistic about its chances, but I certainly hope it's defeated."

— Lee Morhouse, 23, executive producer at newsy.com

"I think the most important thing on there was probably the one to be able to repeal taxes in Kansas City and St. Louis. ... They repeal earning taxes, and it really inhibits our ability to pay for police officers, firefighters, the things we need. It really inhibits the way our government works."

— Katy Menzel-Behrer, 29, student and server

"I think the earnings tax should be left to the cities that run them, not prevented."

— Boyd Terry, 75, surgeon

PROPOSITION B

"On an emotional level, the puppy mill proposition was important."

— Mark Singer, 50, history graduate student

"I am all for Proposition B. I think the desire to make it some sort of a plot with the Humane Society is absolutely absurd. I love dogs, and I don't want them to have miserable lives."

— Branca Prentiss, 75, retired

"The thing I was the most interested in was the issue for puppy mills. I think all of the issues that were presented were unfortunately tainted by an attempt on one side or the other to distort and misrepresent the issue. I found it confusing, particularly on the puppy mill issue. I'm not sure that the voters were really presented with actual facts or the facts as seen by one party or another, one division or another. I think it's a tough election year for voters."

— Carole Riesenberg, educator

"The puppy mill one was the one I feel the strongest about; that one was the easiest. I have a cat, but I'm a lover of all animals."

— Paul Matushek, 35, musician

"I think the intentions are good. I think everything is fine as far as the sentiments, but I don't think the legislation is written in such a way that it's going to help a whole lot. ...You can pass more drug laws, but people aren't necessarily going to change their behavior."

— Craig Datz, 48, veterinarian

"I don't know that one issue was more important than the others; the puppy mill one was a tear-jerker."

— Neil Carr, 34, financial adviser

"As for the dog thing, at first I thought, yeah, I'll vote for it, but when you dig deeper into it, it affected farmers and a lot of stuff. I don't think it's the state's right to sit there and say you can have 15 cows or you can have 20 goats."

— Joyce Henry, 60, mother and part-time worker at Cornerstone National Insurance Co.

"I'm here for Proposition B, the one about the dogs. I'm a pet owner, and I feel strongly that those dogs should receive humane treatment, and they're not. This needs to be regulated. ... I have personal experience in this. I bought a Pomeranian about five years ago from a puppy mill and saw the deplorable condition there ...

"It was disgusting, and that's how I got involved in this issue. We drove out to the boonies, about a half hour even past Lebanon, Mo. It was on a dirt road, very hidden. There were probably 300 dogs there, and this woman comes out with no teeth, and she has every kind of dog you can imagine; she wasn't just a Pomeranian breeder.

"She wouldn't let me see where the dogs were kept; she wanted me to pay cash; it was all so shady.

"They breed these dogs to death. There is no way when you have that many dogs you can keep tabs on how often they are breeding. It's such a problem in Missouri. Down by the Ozarks, there is so much land to hide this stuff.

"I would like for them to do away with dog breeding altogether. I know that there are some reputable breeders, but they are so few and far between. I feel like the one or two legitimate people who would have to suffer by doing away with dog breeding would be worth it for the greater good. There are so many animals in shelters right now.

"I have had nothing but problems with my dog. He's always sick; he has so many trips to the vet ... you never hear about a shelter dog being sick."

— Christina Crawford, 27, student

"As far as Prop. B, that's confusing because one hand is saying that it will stop puppy mills, and I'm all for that, but on the other hand, they're talking about it's going to affect cattle ranchers, and it's not really clear on what it's about anymore. Those who are for it can't really tell you anything about it, and those who are against it — same thing."

— Michael Kent, 47

"The dog breeding one. I really didn't think that would be an issue, but I think it is. They need to provide nice places for these animals and have some laws to regulate them. I was surprised at the animosity towards that. ... After listening to the pros and cons, I'm saying: 'Why would you not want a nice place for the dogs to breed?'"

— Steve Lackey, 58, retired

"The only one I really paid any attention to was the puppy mill one. I was just against it because I had friends that are vets who told me different things about it."

— Jane Wisniewski, 49, secretary

"People just don't understand Proposition B. It's not just about puppy mills. It's about the whole livestock culture."

— Ron Flatt, 63, farmer

"People see Proposition B and think sad puppies. I don't think what the bill does would have helped much."

— Ryan Knowles, 27, political science graduate student

"I am in favor of increasing regulations of pet breeders to achieve a minimum standard of care."

— Robert Price, 52, architect

"We work with the livestock industry. We've heard a lot about this Proposition B thing, and it's not good for the state of Missouri."

— Larry Vandiver, 51, MFA Agricultural Services applicator

"I will probably vote against Proposition B because it gives the government control of how people raise their dogs.The government shouldn't have control. People should."

— Monty Nichols, 58, retired Missourian mailroom worker

"I believe in animal rights. There was a lot of controversy about it affecting the small breeders, but I don't think this was aimed at them."

— Tony McCoy, 46, Maxwell Trailers sales manager

"One of the more interesting things for me was the puppy mill. I think it's time we really look at creatures that aren't human as having value. I think we do that in this society in many ways, but sometimes I think things have gone the wrong way, and I think that was a good measure to go for that."

— David Wallace, 61, director of MU Counseling Center

"I felt like with the possibility of regulations on farm animals, Proposition B was just too broad."

— Bill Lear, 54, Columbia Daily Tribune post-production worker

"The puppy mills, I think they have laws in place, and I don't see how the ones who have puppy mills turning themselves around now because there is a law."

— Terri Johnson, 48, customer service representative

"I voted against it because the way it's worded could impact farmers. I don't want someone to tell our farmers how they can and can't provide our food."

— Mark Asher, 36

"Probably the puppy mill thing is the most important. There's just not enough evidence to support that they're safe. ... Unfortunately, there's just too many lazy people wanting to make a buck off breeding animals. ... The legitimate breeders are already doing it right in the first place, so this won't affect them."

— Rachel Penn, 37, full-time graduate student

"Prop. B, I totally agree with that. Just because you own puppies doesn't mean that you are providing for them effectively. It's going to increase our taxes, but if it's a good cause, I am for it. Let's get these people some harsher policies. It's just not healthy for the animal. Don't be a pet owner if you can't take care of your animal."

— Katherine Evans, 37, accounting associate

"We gotta take care of our pets, too — those puppy mills, that's a sad thing."

— Ron Garen, 68, retired

"The puppy mill issue because I have heard that Missouri has the most permissive laws on abuse. I've heard chairmen are beholden to agricultural issues, and they voted no on this. The only way it passes if it is put on the ballot."

— Chris Warren, 28, attorney

"Prop. B because they are trying to put in more animal cruelty measures. I worked in the public defender's office, and there is no problem with that in Missouri. There was definitely enforcement of animal cruelty laws, and there was no slap on the wrist; they had to do community service. The costs are out of hand, too. That money could be spent better."

— Kimberly Burgess, 22, law student

"I voted against the puppy mill, Prop. B, because I think that there are more than enough laws on the books already that need to be enforced. And if a person is an illegal puppy mill owner now, they are going to be an illegal puppy mill owner later on. One of the issues I had was that the groups that pushed for this amendment excluded themselves from those requirements, and I think that overall it was just poorly presented."

— Bob Glidewell, 54, writer

AMENDMENT 2 (TAX EXEMPTION FOR POWs)

"The prisoners of war, I respect our prisoners of war, but I don't know if it would be fair in our society. It takes away the fairness in our country."

— Katherine Evans, 37, accounting associate

AMENDMENT 3 (REAL ESTATE TRANSFER TAX)

"The one that kind of snuck on there was the one about increasing or adding property tax, or reducing or eliminating the government's ability to tax, which is nonsensical."

— Mark Singer, 50, history graduate student

"Probably the taxation on property issue. I know lots of states do that, and I think it's just pretty extreme. We're already taxed quite a bit, and I just think one more tax is really kind of over the top. I just think it is one more tax we don't need. We have a tax-and-spend government as it is."

— Brian Gardner, 49, funeral director

"We don't have a property transfer tax here, but it's better to get ahead. The state doesn't help you sell your property, they just take a cut of it."

— Cliff Millam, 50, University Hospital secretary

"The real estate taxes, I voted against it. I am not a fan of taxes altogether."

— Janie Smith, 32, speech pathologist

"The homestead tax is the most outrageous thing that they have come up with so far. It's a double tax. The one thing you pay on all your life, and now they want to tax us for it."

— Mary Smith, 65, local attorney

PROPOSTION 1 (COLUMBIA PARKS SALES TAX)

"It's just so important for communities to have green areas. I mean, I use the park all the time for the (Katy) trail. It's really important for all cities, in terms of attracting people to live there."

— Marsha Uphoff, 57, retired

"I voted for the parks tax. I figured a lot of people right now weren't willing to vote for it because of the economy, but I think the parks need the budgeting. We have a lot of parks and recs here in Columbia. We bike and walk on the trails and use Stephens Lake Park two or three times a week."

— Neil Carr, 34, financial adviser

"I do not think that we need new ways to come up with revenues for parks. Columbia has been doing pretty good about that."

— Wayne Pfeffer, 73

PROPOSITION 2 (COLUMBIA BAN ON TASER USE)

"The Taser vote is an interesting one; people seem passionate on both sides. Both sides seem to have good points."

— Paul Matushek, 35, musician

"I have a friend that got Tased because he was trying to tell the police who started a fight. I guess if the police could show me that they were more responsible with the usage, I wouldn't be so against it."

— John O'Laughlin, 47, self-employed

"As much crime as has been going on around town, I think Tasers might be just a good thing. If they can't behave themselves, I'm thinking police need what they can do to take care of the situation. It's just another tool they can use to either slow 'em down, catch 'em, or whatever it takes."

Joyce Henry, 60, mother and part-time worker at Cornerstone National Insurance Co.

"I feel that police officers need all tools necessary to do their job, including the ability to use Tasers under specific conditions."

— Robert Price, 52, architect

"I'm in favor of the police having all the tools that they need. It was originally sold as an alternative to the use of lethal force. I'm concerned that the police might just use it if somebody's obstreperous, but if they do, they're in violation of the guidelines. They're not supposed to use it just if you're rude; they're just supposed to use it only as alternative lethal force. If they use it properly, it's a good tool. If they use it improperly, then that's something that would have to be taken up by the appropriate boards and committees."

— Greg Robinson, 64, attorney

"The Tasers. I voted no because it shouldn't be an issue; if people aren't doing anything wrong, they don't have to worry about Tasers in the first place. Instead of blaming other people, take responsibility for your own actions, and if you don't get in trouble, you don't have to worry about the Tasers."

— Gary Raboin, 52, livestock broker

"I voted against the Taser ordinance because I think the police officers and even private individuals should have the opportunity to defend themselves with less-than-lethal systems if necessary."

— Bob Glidewell, 54, writer

"The Taser initiative. I'm concerned about Tasers, so that's why I voted for the initiative."

— Zack Wardell, 40, MU physics graduate student and instructor

"Tasers because it is what most people are talking about downtown, petitioning."

— Joanna Witte, 22, student

"I want Tasers. Cops need a way to control out-of-control people."

— Monty Nichols, 58, retired Missourian mailroom worker

"I voted for the Taser ban."

— Frank Stack, 73, retired

"Too many people are hurt. Officers, whenever they said that they test (Tasers) on other officers, they do at least a health exam to see if they could stand the shock. They wouldn't just do it to them without first finding out if they had the physical condition that would impair them in any kind of detrimental way or physical way. We had a spiritual event in Douglass Park and there was a young man there that they were trying to arrest and an officer pulled his Taser to get ready to shoot him with it, and he hadn't did anything. He didn't threaten them, he just didn't comply that he lay on the ground. He wasn't showing any physical aggression. I think they overuse their authority."

— Paul McClain, 47

"Tasers — I'm teetering on that one. Because, as far as the Taser thing, I'd rather be Tasered than shot. And that's the only option that they have if we take away their Tasers, is their gun. I can do with a few moments of agonizing pain if I can get up and walk away from that."

— Michael Kent, 47

"I think (Tasers) are dangerous, and I feel like somebody might lose their life. I saw this one guy get Tased. He almost didn't make it. He fell off the bridge, almost, and that scared me."

— Ladenia Cowper, 73

GENERAL COMMENTS

"I really believe that country comes first, party second, and I haven't seen that reaching across party lines."

— Bill Lear, 54, Columbia Daily Tribune post-production worker

"We have a government currently, that for the last two years, has been expanding in size and scope beyond its constitutional boundaries."

— Andy Allen, 53, MU Extension associate

"I just voted Democrat. I've always been a Democrat and always will be."

— Ladenia Cowper, 73

"Get rid of all the rat-bastard politicians. ... This current administration has spent more money in 21 months than all the previous administrations combined."

— R. E. Smith, 65, retired contractor

"There isn't a point in time when it isn't important to vote."

— Brian Cain, 27, MU librarian

"I wanted to get some Republicans into office."

— Ron Garen, 68, retired

"I wanted to show my loyalty to the Democratic Party and to sustain the Democratic leadership in this off-year."

— Zack Wardell, 40, MU physics graduate student and instructor

"I feel like the Republicans had eight years to do something, and now all of a sudden they want all the positions they got going on now? I'm like, that's eight years too late."

— Michael Kent, 47

"Just getting the right people in place and giving Obama a chance. He's only been in there for two years. It took Bush eight years to get us in this mess."

— Lenoria Christian, 60, legislative assistant in Jefferson City

"I think it's the local elections is what I'm most interested in. I think it has more impact on our day-to-day life than the larger elections or amendments."

— Tim O'Connor, 51, physician

"I just think it's my civic duty to vote, but I guess probably the most important issue was the Senate."

— Paul Matushek, 35, musician

"In the simplest terms, I'm just doing today what I learned in eighth grade; it's a civic duty. You just get out and vote."

— Mark Singer, 50, history graduate student

"I didn't want them to continue the taxes, and I voted no on all the judges. I think the country is in that rebellious mood. We're tired of what's being done, and we want to take back the power."

— Larry Babcock, 49, small business owner, sales

"I think there are some constitutional issues that are interesting, basically because it does raise some questions about taxation and rights of property owners. I think it gives us policy for thought on a few things."

— Bob Glidewell, 54, writer

"This was my second time voting. ... In the last election I voted for the president, ... but I didn't vote for anything like the commissioner or anything like that."

— Steven Hsieh, 20, student

"I'm kind of anti-changing all the amendments and propositions. ... I don't like the taxing and puppy mill legislation. I think they're trying to give it to the people, and people aren't smart enough to handle all the background and get all the information needed to intelligently vote on a big issue like that. I also don't get why it doesn't go through the Jefferson City legislature. If the puppy mill bill is so important, why don't they do it? Why do they leave it up to the people?"

— Craig Datz, 48, veterinarian

"Anything to do with taxes, I'm voting down. Even in the local area."

— Tom Ragsdell, 41, pastor

"I feel some concern about these local issues, but I was mostly brought out because of the national issues."

— Zack Wardell, 40, MU physics graduate student and instructor

"I vote because it's my constitutional right and my civic duty."

— Skip Elkin, Boone County Northern District Commissioner

"I think (voting is) an obligation that we all have so we have good representation in our community."

— Rebekah Freese, 40, Family Counseling Center counselor

"I always vote. It's our duty, our right, our privilege, and you can't complain if you don't do it."

— Jan Burger, 58, Sherwin-Williams district coordinator

"Unfortunately, on an emotional level, people don't want to pay taxes. They don't want to pay taxes, so they don't think through the process. They are taken advantage of by people who do think it through. ... The fewer taxes we pay, the greater the gulf between the rich and the poor. The taxes do more to redistribute the wealth, and in a modern economy, we need that. Yes, I'm basically a socialist. There are still a few of us out there who remember when red meant something else."

— Mark Singer, 50, history graduate student

"Every election is important. ... I felt strongly about a couple issues, but mostly I just wanted to exercise my right to vote."

— Darron Sheets, 35, Jim's Bike and Key Shop

"I hope (the Democrats) can keep their word on all the changes that Obama wants to make. That's my main concern. Like I said, we gave the Republicans eight years to do something. They sat on their hands for eight years. Then all of a sudden, since we've got a black president, they only want him to do a one-term deal."

— Michael Kent, 47

"I think the government is too big. I feel like the government tells you how to exercise. I think the country went too far to the left."

— Monty Nichols, 58, retired Missourian mailroom worker

"Today young people are more likely to vote than when I was young. They seem to be more politically active."

— Mike Mullet, 52, manager

"I wanted to support the Democratic Party. ... I guess I'm also voting in reaction to all the negativity of this campaign season."

— Keith Brown, 33, student

"I think the two most interesting things on the ballot are the two tax issues, the transfer tax and the attempt to prohibit cities from enacting earnings taxes. ... The transfer tax, I have been a lobbyist for 40 years, and nobody has ever introduced a bill to establish a transfer tax. The earnings tax will be devastating to both St. Louis and Kansas City. If they lose that, I don't know where they'll pick up that revenue. ...

"The most important thing is tax issues should not be in the constitution, and tax issues really shouldn't be left to Joe the Plumber. Once you put something like either one of those two, it's almost impossible to erase them. When you get down the road 20 or 30 years and you find that you need new revenues, well, you've eliminated some very important avenues for revenues."

— Terry Schlemeier, 69, lobbyist

"(The most interesting issues were) the two that are very local, the dog breeder and the Taser ban.There are so many opinions different people have, but I also think it's the information that's out there. People aren't educating themselves enough, and it's more of a gut reaction than anything else. It was nice to put a spot on the ballot and finally get it done."

— Ed Johnson, 44, health initiatives


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