Ewell Lawson declared his candidacy for the 9th District state representative seat, now held by Wes Shoemyer, a Democrat from Clarence, on Monday to a small crowd in the gravel parking lot near Midway Exposition Center.
Standing alongside his family and Boone County treasurer Kay Murray, Lawson, 36, said his longtime experience in government is only one of the characteristics that makes him qualified for the job.
Lawson has served as a policy adviser for governors Mel Carnahan and Roger Wilson and as the district office manager for Rep. Harold Volkmer.
“Representative Shoemyer is doing a good job, but I’m sure I can grow into his shoes,” Lawson said. “As a seventh-generation Monroe Countian, as a graduate of the University of Missouri and with hands-on experience of issues affecting rural Missouri, I feel very experienced.”
Shoemyer announced last year he would run for the 18th District Senate seat because of term limits that prevent him from seeking re-election. He said listening to the needs and the challenges from constituents from that area are not much different than the ones faced raising a family.
“It will be much easier working in a group of 34, especially when you are talking about a hot-button topic like the stadium issue,” Shoemyer said. He said the state legislature, not the executive branch, should have a say in whether to use state funds for private stadium projects, such as giving a tax break to help renovate Arrowhead and Kauffman stadiums in Kansas City. “They don’t shut your mic off in the Senate, but in the House, they sure do,” Shoemyer said.
As a senator, Shoemyer said he wants to propose legislation that would expand the access to health care, which he feels “was depleted last session.” Other areas he said he would address would be farmers’ rights to save their seed and restore its equity as he proposed last session.
Republican candidate Kathyrne Harper, Howard County treasurer, and Democratic candidate Paul Quinn, Monroe County assessor, also announced they would run for the 9th district representative seat. Harper, 34, of Fayette and a former CPA, said as a young woman she can offer useful perspective.
“I want to give back to society,” she said. “But I am not a politician, and I don’t come from a wealthy family. I think the legislature needs someone different like me — with financial experience.” Harper said she wants to give small businesses a tax incentive for health insurance.
She worked for former state auditor Margaret Kelly and as a controller of the Columbia Insurance Group.
Quinn, 62, previously served 12 years as a Monroe County commissioner and has served eight years as the assessor. The father of nine said he wants to improve rural economic development, health care and education in the district.
“Last year, I had a problem with the way we dealt with Medicaid and seniors’ issues,” Quinn said. “I am not against the Medicaid cuts that we made, but we need to think before we make the cuts, and we need to listen to our people.”
All of the candidates said a substantial challenge will be covering ground on their campaign trail — with the district stretching across parts of Monroe, Audrain, Boone and Chariton counties and the whole of Howard county.
“It’s a great district with wonderful people, but you have to be willing to wear out some shoe leather and be willing to listen,” Shoemyer said. “If you are willing to shoot it straight with people, you will be a success.”