Travis Ballenger, a fourth-generation Boone County native, is the first Democrat to announce his candidacy for the 24th District seat in the Missouri House. It would be his first legislative position.
Ballenger, along with Mark Powell, a candidate for state treasurer, asked for support from local Democrats on Friday after the Boone County Muleskinners luncheon at Stephens College.
Ballenger, 32, said he will be seeking the seat held by Rep. Chuck Graham, a Columbia Democrat. Graham was elected to the House in 1997 and served four terms. Term limits prevent him from seeking re-election.
Ballenger said the most important issue is education.
“I want to work hard to protect a fair share of funding for our schools,” he said.
To improve education in Missouri schools, Ballenger said he wants to lower classroom sizes and keep schools safe and drug free. He said closing corporate loopholes can provide funding for education.
Ballenger holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from MU and has been the owner of Sofas Plus, a furniture store in Columbia, for 10 years. “I understand issues that face small business owners,” he said.
Ballenger said he has yet to raise any money for his campaign and still has to form a campaign committee.
Although Powell has already started his campaign for treasurer, he said other candidates will raise much more money than he will be able to.
“It doesn’t bother me,” he said. “ I guarantee you I will meet more people and shake more hands. I will not let them outwork me.”
Powell said he feels he’s well suited for the office of treasurer because of his background in finance. After receiving his accounting degree from Southwest Missouri State University, Powell was in banking for 24 years before opening Mark Powell Investments.
He is the current mayor of the city of Arnold and the treasurer of the Jefferson County Library District. Although he will not be in a legislative position, Powell said he has many ideas such as allowing monthly payments of the sales tax on vehicle purchases to make cars more affordable. Rep. Mark Abel of Festus, a Democrat, is also campaigning for state treasurer along with Republican hopefuls Sarah Steelman, a state senator from Rolla; state Sen. Anita Yeckel of St. Louis; state Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer of St. Elizabeth; and St. Louis businessman Tom Klein.
In the 24th District, Ballenger already has a Republican opponent. Carol Iles from Ashland said she will be seeking the seat. The first-time candidate said she will officially announce her candidacy next Thursday in the Southern Boone Senior Center in Ashland.
Iles, 46, is a graduate of the MU School of Law and has been working as an attorney for 17 years with a focus on state taxation.
She said the most important issue is the state budget.
“We are told we don’t have enough money,” Iles said. “But why isn’t $19 billion enough? The government should be more efficient.”
Iles said she wants to make the budget process less complicated. “The system is so complicated, most people in Jefferson City even don’t understand how the budget works,” she said.
Iles said she formed a campaign committee last summer and has been raising money since then.