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Meet the candidates

Boone County voters will go to the polls in an Aug. 3 primary and a Nov. 2 general election for federal, state and county offices.
Sunday, June 13, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:41 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

[Note: this story has been modified since its original posting to correct errors.]

The ballot will include state representative seats in the ninth, 21st and 23rd districts. None of those races have contested primaries.

This week, the Missourian takes a look at the candidates for those three seats.

State representative job description

State representatives serve two-year terms in the Missouri House. Candidates must be at least 24. They also must have been qualified voters in Missouri for at least two years and in the district they hope to represent for at least one year.

State representatives are limited to a maximum of four two-year terms.

The primary responsibility of state representatives is to propose bills that they believe will benefit the state and their constituents and to debate legislation proposed by other representatives. The House, as well as the state Senate, is also charged with establishing a state budget for each fiscal year.

Those elected to the House during the general election are sworn in on the first day of the legislative session, which begins the first Wednesday after Jan.1 of each year. The session ends in mid-May.

Representatives serve their constituents year-round by addressing concerns, appearing at events or agreeing to speaking engagements.

The annual salary for a state representative is $31,351.

The House includes163 representatives. There are currently 73 Democrats and 90 Republicans. Of the Democrats, 49 are men and 24 are women. The Republicans have 79 men and 11 women in the House.

Source: www.state.mo.us

Ninth District State Representative

Jeff Hedberg, Republican

Jeff Hedberg of Centralia is taking a second shot at winning the Ninth District seat after losing his first bid two years ago.

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Phone: (573) 682-2600 (campaign office)

E-mail: hedberg@mcmsys.com

A lifelong resident of Missouri, he owns the Centralia Fireside Guard, Boone County’s oldest newspaper. He and his wife have three children.

Hedberg said the General Assembly should tweak the foundation formula it uses to fund education to ensure small communities with agricultural tax bases are treated fairly.

He also believes tackling the methamphetamine problem should be a priority. Meth, he said, is a problem not only for drug users but also for rural residents in general because the toxic by-products of meth production are frequently dumped in rural areas, causing pollution and health hazards. Frequent meth offenders, he said, should be sentenced to mandatory jail time or rehabilitation.

“We need to make some changes when we’re making arrests of the same person for the fourth time,” he said.

Hedberg’s other concerns include road safety and protecting small businesses and family farms.

“We’ve got four things we’re really going to concentrate on: education, the methamphetamine problem, small business and family farms, and transportation,” Hedberg said. “Obviously I want to be able to represent this uniquely rural district with the type of representation they deserve.”

Wes Shoemyer, Democrat

Wes Shoemyer of Clarence is seeking a third term in the Missouri House of Representatives.

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Phone: (573) 751-7852 (office)

E-mail: wshoemyer@yahoo.com, wshoemye@services.state.mo.gov

Among the accomplishments he cites is legislation passed during his first term that supports supplemental health screenings for children. He said he became aware of the need for supplemental screening when a newborn in his community died from a condition that could have been treated with a change of diet had it been detected soon enough.

Shoemyer’s goals include boosting money for education by increasing the tax on gaming boats and closing tax loopholes that exclude corporations from paying taxes that local businesses must pay. Giving corporations a tax advantage over local businesses is wrong, he said. He also wants to close the “yacht loophole,” which reduces the amount of tax that owners of large boats must pay.

Shoemyer said he also wants to restore funding for senior services that have been cut as a result of the state’s recent budget problems and address transportation needs. He said he wants to make sure the General Assembly starts “governing people, not dollars.”

Shoemyer has been married for 23 years and has four children.

“Obviously I am a fighter for my district, and my experience much better equips me to serve your district,” he said.

21st District State Representative

Lloyd Becker, Democrat

Lloyd Becker of Columbia is a retired Teamster who worked 25 years as union shop steward.

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Phone number: (573) 474-7667 (home)

E-mail: beckerforstaterep@msn.com

He is concerned about the possibility of the Republicans “cramming the ‘right to work’ clause right down our throats.” He said that when labor unions are in place, the standard of living increases.

Becker is married and has two children and five grandchildren.

He served in the U.S. Air Force for four years and is a Vietnam veteran.

He is a retired UPS worker who ran for state representative 10 years ago. He said he hasn’t run recently because he’s been satisfied with his representation.

Becker worries that state government will eliminate public services in favor of tax cuts that benefit big business, causing money to leave the state and draining tax revenue from state coffers.

“I have a lifetime experience of service, and those that will vote for me will want to stop the mean and cold hard leadership of the House and Senate leadership,” Becker said of the GOP-controlled General Assembly. “My campaign is about a choice.”

Steve Hobbs, Republican

Steve Hobbs of Mexico, Mo., is running for his second term representing the 21st District. He said he wants to continue working to boost education funding and to ease regulatory restraints on business to make Missouri a more friendly climate for economic development.

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Phone: (573) 751-9458 (office)

E-mail: steve.hobbs@house.mo.gov

Because he comes from an agricultural background, Hobbs said he wants to work especially hard on promoting economic development in rural Missouri. One way of doing this, he said, is to revitalize value-added agricultural programs. When farmers prosper in rural areas, local businesses prosper as well, he said.

Hobbs was born in Mexico, Mo., and still lives there with his wife and two daughters.

He is a farmer and has served on the Monroe County Water Board and the Missouri Beef Industry Council.

“I believe that my early elevation to leadership status as a whip in the majority party and my experience put me in a perfect position next year to be a driving force in where our state goes in the next few years,” Hobbs said. “I look forward to the opportunity to work for a brighter future for Missouri.”

In his first term, Hobbs sponsored and passed a bill that removes the cap on the special-needs adoption tax credit and charges the Children’s Division of the Department of Social Services with its administration. He also passed legislation to clarify immunity for certain landowners from civil liability and to create a special license plate for members of Optimist International.

23rd District State Representative

Dan Fischbach, Republican

Dan Fischbach of Columbia was a 1998 candidate for Boone County clerk but lost to incumbent Wendy Noren.

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Phone: (573) 446-2680 (home)

E-mail: 6fisch@mchsi.com

He is a self-employed pilot and has served as president of the Sunrise Optimist Club.

Originally from South Dakota, Fischbach is married and has two children. He moved to Columbia seven years ago for his wife’s career. He is a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, for which he was a pilot.

Fischbach said his primary motivation as state representative would be to funnel more state money toward MU.

“I believe the university interests have been ill-served by Democratic representation,” he said, referring to the trio of Democrats who have represented Columbia over the past several years.

“The bottom line is the total budget has gone up 56 percent and the MU budget has gone up 22 percent, and I don’t think that’s right,” Fischbach said. “I believe in education and making it affordable. I think that’s important.”

Jeff Harris, Democrat

Jeff Harris of Columbia is running for his second term. He was first elected in 2002 to replace Tim Harlan, now a candidate for the 19th District state Senate seat.

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Phone: (573) 751-9753 (office)

E-mail: jeff.harris@house.mo.gov

Harris is a member of the American Council of Young Political Leaders, the Governor’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education and the Rules Committee for this summer’s Democratic National Convention in Boston. He is also a member of the Democratic Leadership Council and is minority whip of the House of Representatives.

This year, Harris sponsored a bill, which was passed, to update the Sunshine Law to cover public meetings using various electronic formats. He cosponsored a variety of other bills, including one to increase gaming fees and tax rates for higher education funding, one to incrementally increase Medicaid reimbursements for health-care providers over the next five fiscal years and one to amend the Adoption Awareness Law that would allow the ongoing advertising campaign for recruitment of adoptive and foster parents, which have not yet passed.

Harris lives in Columbia with his wife. He graduated from Vanderbilt and earned a law degree at Cornell.

“In my opinion, the most important thing I can do is listen to my constituents and represent their viewpoints here in Jefferson City,” Harris said. “My goal is to be as accessible and as available to my constituents as I possibly can be. That’s very important to me.”


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