Racial profiling, the economy and disability services were among the topics discussed Thursday at a candidates forum sponsored by the NAACP. Candidates for the 19th District state Senate seat, the 24th and 25th District House seats, Boone County sheriff, Boone County commission and Boone County treasurer made an appearance at the event at Second Baptist Church, which was also attended by about two dozen residents
19th District state Senate
Democrat Chuck Graham, the current 24th District State Rep., began by saying he would fight for civil rights and take an active stand against discrimination. Graham, who uses a wheelchair, highlighted his activism on behalf of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, the Civil Rights Restoration Act and the Fair Housing Act.
His primary opponent, former 23rd District State Rep. Tim Harlan, said his work as a social security disability lawyer gives him the background necessary to “help people get the disability services they are entitled to.” Harlan also stressed the need for affordable health insurance for families and small companies.
Both candidates responded to a question about racial profiling by pointing out their support of a law that requires law enforcement to maintain racial statistics on traffic stops. Harlan said local statistics show that racial profiling is a problem.
Graham said he supports establishing a citizen’s review board for law enforcement agencies and increased sensitivity training for officers.
Both candidates said they oppose a proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitution that would define marriage as only being between a man and a woman.
“This is only about turning out votes,” Graham said. “It is driven by hatred.”
In his closing statement, Harlan said the main difference between the two candidates lies in their support of the Paige Sports Arena. Graham sponsored the bill that allocated $35 million in public money for the basketball arena, which he said has created $176 million in jobs. Harlan said the bill set a bad precedent.
24th District state Senate
Democratic candidate Greg Casey and Republican Ed Robb are both former college professors who consider taxation and school funding two of the most crucial issues facing the 24th District.
They differ on their approach to taxation. Casey supports a progressive tax, while Robb is a proponent of a flat tax.
“Taxes should be proportional to people’s ability to pay,” said Casey. “Right now everyone is hit with a six percent flat tax rate which is unfair to those in the lower income bracket.”
Robb’s proposal would make a married couples’ first $20,000 in income and a single person’s first $10,000 tax free. Incomes above that would be subject to a flat tax.
25th District state Senate
While the candidates have engaged in several debates with each other, Thursday’s event became a debate between the five Democratic candidates and the audience.
The Rev. James Glenn of the Second Baptist Church asked the candidates whether they supported gay marriage.
“Because if you do...” Glenn said, “... then you’ve lost my vote.”
Candidate Mike Blum responded, “Well, then I am going to lose your vote.
“If I want to defend people’s rights to live as they choose,” he said, “then I can’t pick and choose which rights I am going to defend.”
Candidate Lara Underwood told Glenn, “I will lose your vote and you have that right. But I hope that I at least have your respect.”
Russell P. Breyfogle called the proposed amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman, “discrimination sanctioned by the state.
Candidates D. Duane Dimmitt and Judy Baker also expressed their support for the rights of gays and lesbians to marry, while many residents in attendance echoed Glenn’s view.
Boone County sheriff
Although all four sheriff candidates — Democrats Dwayne Carey, Ken Kreigh and O.J. Stone and Republican Mick Covington — received invitations to Thursday’s forum, only Kreigh appeared at the event. He said he would support a citizen’s review board and also spoke in favor of community policing.
“They’re going to work proactively to prevent crime,” Kreigh said.
The candidate also addressed racial profiling and discrimination within the department, and the need for an increased presence of minorities on the sheriff’s staff.
“We’ve really failed in that area,” Kreigh said.
By Missourian reporters Lindy Bavolet, Samantha Marcus and Sarah Larimer