This article is part of the Missourian's 2012 general election voters guide.
WHAT'S THE JOB? The Missouri Senate comprises 34 members who represent districts based on population. The 21st Senate District includes Carroll, Chariton, Cooper, Howard, Lafayette, Macon, Ray and Saline counties, along with parts of Clay County.
The Republicans hold 26 seats in the state Senate. Given the number of uncontested seats and the fact that only half the seats are up for election this year, Democrats will be unable to take the majority in this election cycle.
Senators are paid $35,915 per year and can serve two four-year terms. Neither of the candidates this year had a primary opponent.
David Pearce (R)
Personal: Age 52. He and his wife, Teresa, have two children, Molly and Andrew.
Occupation: Vice president of First Community Bank in Warrensburg.
Education: Graduated from Warrensburg High School in 1978, attended the University of Central Missouri and received a bachelor's degree in agricultural journalism from MU in 1984.
Civic background: He completed three terms in the Missouri House of Representatives before being elected to represent District 31 in the Missouri Senate in 2008, and he served as the chairman of the Senate Education Committee during the most recent legislative session. He served as vice-chairman of the Senate Veteran Affairs, Pensions and Urban Affairs Committee. Because of redistricting, he is now seeking election in District 21. He previously served as executive director of the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce and has been involved in the Warrensburg Rotary and United Way of Johnson County. He has been honored as a “Friend of Agriculture” by the Missouri Farm Bureau and as a “Distinguished Legislator” by the Missouri Community College Association.
Top priorities: On his website, Pearce states that he “will lead the charge of fiscal discipline in state government.” He also opposes abortion rights and states that he supports the “sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman.”
ElGene Clark Ver Dught (D)
Personal: He is 61 and married to Juliann Esther Dieckmann. He has two children, Janna and Jared, and five grandchildren.
Occupation: Ver Dught is the executive director and founder of Mediation Services Inc. in Higginsville. He works in alternative dispute resolution, family and matrimonial law, and probate, including wills and trusts. He also owns a small farm and raises wheat, beans, corn and cows, the Richmond Daily News reported.
Education: Ver Dught received a bachelor's degree from MU in 1973 and a doctorate in law from Hamline University in 1976.
Civic background: Ver Dught is a member of the Higginsville Rotary Club and serves on the National Association Foster Grandparents board of directors. He takes part in several professional organizations, including the National Academy of Family Mediators, the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, and the Association for Conflict Resolution. From 1979 to 1980, he served as the Lafayette County prosecutor. Ver Dught was raised on a farm and worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to mediate farm foreclosures during the 1980s' farm crisis. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Top priorities: Ver Dught’s top priorities are agricultural sustainability and water conservation. He is also concerned about jobs, the economy and education, he told the Richmond Daily News.
Steven Hedrick, (L)
Personal: Age 31. Hedrick is single.
Occupation: Nursing home worker and amateur musician.
Education: Lafayette County C-1 High School, Class of 1999, and attended the University of Central Missouri.
Civic background: Hedrick was a member of the Lafayette County C-1 High School Choir, as well as a volunteer at the Johnson County Care Center in Warrensburg. Votesmart.org stated he was a Libertarian candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives for Missouri District 9 in 2006 and District 3 in 2010. Additionally, in 2008, he was a candidate for District 121 of the Missouri House of Representatives.
Top priorities: Campaign manager Randy Langkraehr said in an interview that lowering the size of state government is the top priority. Langkraehr said lowering taxes and reducing state spending are additional objectives. According to Hedrick’s official campaign website, he also wants to create tax-free health savings accounts. His site also stated that he believes schools should be locally controlled and restrictions on home schooling should be eliminated.