Voter guide: State races

Sunday, November 5, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:57 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 16, 2008

21st District representative: Skip Elkin and Steve Hobbs

The 21st District race features a popular Democrat challenging a two-term incumbent Republican.

Rep. Steve Hobbs, R-Mexico, calls himself a farmer first but takes pride in the legislative work he’s done over the past four years. Hobbs has spent his entire life farming within a mile of his childhood home.

Hobbs has said his No. 1 priority, if re-elected, is to pass his proposed Rural Missouri Health Care Access Initiative. He thinks it can save rural health clinics and thereby improve rural health care by providing tax credits and state matching money to encourage private donations to the clinics.

Boone County Northern Commissioner Skip Elkin, D-Hallsville, is challenging Hobbs. A lifelong resident of Hallsville, his supporters emphasize his willingness to work hard and to make sacrifices in public service. A former Marine, he says his experience in the military has shaped his values and molded him into a leader.

Elkin has now spent 11 years in public office, all on the local level. This perspective, he says, will help make him a successful representative on the state level.

If elected, Elkin has said he would like to work to quickly re-enroll the nearly 100,000 people who were cut from the state’s Medicaid rolls. He said health care is a critical issue facing the state.

Hobbs supports the sale of assets from the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority to pay for higher-education projects. Elkin has said he could support the sale but remains skeptical that the money will be spent as advertised.

Hobbs says the legislature did the best it could with the new foundation formula for K-12 education. Elkin, however, says the new formula hurts rural schools and represents a political shell game that shifts money from one district to another. He wants to pass a clause that would eliminate cost shifting.

23rd District representative: Patrick Crabtree and Jeff Harris

In the 23rd District state representative race, two issues have taken center stage: education and business.

Incumbent Democrat Jeff Harris, the House minority leader, supports giving a dollar-for-dollar tax deduction to those who pay for public college or university tuition. His opponent, Republican Patrick Crabtree, said the real key to supporting higher education is the sale of $350 million in assets from the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority an idea championed by Gov. Matt Blunt. It would generate $25 million for need-based scholarships, he said. Harris also supports the sale.

Regarding K-12 education, Crabtree said he wants more teachers with backgrounds in math and science to be hired. He said that could help the country’s declining standing worldwide in science and math and, in the long term, boost the state’s economy. Harris agrees that math and science curriculum must be emphasized, but he also says the current foundation formula for funding public schools diverts too much money from districts such as Columbia and sends it to wealthy school districts in St. Louis.

The candidates agree that more must be done to make Missouri’s economy stronger. Harris said he wants to offer tax incentives and credits to companies to do research and development and to give Missouri companies preference when bidding on government contracts. Crabtree said he wants to keep taxes low, and he returns to the MOHELA sale, saying it would be a potential major boost to the economy, especially in Columbia. MU would receive an estimated $94 million from the sale under the governor’s plan; $84 million of that would fund the construction of a health sciences research center.

24th District representative: Jim Ritter and Ed Robb

In the 24th District race, education is a top priority.

Republican incumbent Ed Robb spent 30 years working for MU as an economics professor and the director of three research centers. Democratic challenger Jim Ritter worked for the Columbia Public Schools for 33 years, retiring as superintendent in 2003.

Both candidates promise to increase funding for higher education and to change the K-12 public schools funding formula that was adopted in the legislature’s last session.

Robb was a key player in creating the formula, which he said will boost funding statewide by $1 billion over seven years. He plans to tweak the formula next year and require that it provide specifically for gifted education programs.

Ritter criticizes the formula, saying it will cost Columbia Public Schools between $7 million and $19 million in the next seven years. He wants the formula to better address adequacy and equity in education funding.

Robb’s other priorities include adopting a better Medicaid program, and, as a result of his background in government finance, to reform tax policies.

Ritter promises to advocate for the rights of senior citizens and work to provide affordable health care for all.

Party affiliation’s role in the legislature is important to both candidates.

Robb said he, as a member of the Republican majority, would have a stronger voice in the legislature, making him better able to accomplish his goals and those of the district. Ritter said he is running against the political divide and would go to Jefferson City as an independent voice of the 24th District instead of relying on partisan politics to decide how to vote.

As both candidates predicted, this race is shaping up to be the most expensive in the state. Robb and Ritter have already raised well more than $100,000 apiece.

25th District representative: Judy Baker

Democrat Judy Baker is running unopposed for her second term as the 25th District state representative. Her key issues are health care, education, the economy and the environment. The uninsured and underinsured are two of her top concerns in the realm of health care, and she said educating younger generations about healthy lifestyles will enable them to make better decisions and reduce the problems of teen pregnancy and substance abuse. Baker also supports initiatives to recruit and retain highly qualified teachers.

Baker is a health care system consultant with Cura Advantage and holds a master’s degree in health care administration. She also has a bachelor’s degree in educational psychology. In her free time, Baker teaches Sunday school, is a board member of the Boone County Community Partnership and is involved with the PTA. She and her husband, John, have three children.

9th District representative: Kathyrne Harper and Paul Quinn

Neither of the 9th District state representative candidates has run for state office before, but both say their experience in public service means they have something to offer the Missouri General Assembly.

Democrat Paul Quinn, who lives on a farm in Monroe City, was a Monroe County commissioner for 12 years and has served the past 10 years as Monroe County assessor.

Republican Kathyrne Harper has been the Howard County treasurer for the past four years. She was raised in Kansas City and graduated from MU with a degree in accountancy. She has worked for the state auditor and Columbia Insurance Group and is a certified public accountant.

Harper supports lowering taxes overall and eliminating taxes on Social Security, pensions and veterans’ benefits. She said this can be done by better managing the state’s budget. She supports the sale of assets from the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority as long as the money is spent on higher education projects.

Quinn opposes the MOHELA sale, saying those assets should be reserved for subsidizing student loans. He also says the funding formula for K-12 education hurts rural schools that don’t see much growth in student enrollment.

With the Medicaid program scheduled to end in 2008, Harper said it must be redesigned because it’s not suited to handling the number of people who need it. Quinn has faulted the legislature for not attacking provider fraud before deciding to cut people off Medicaid.

The candidates also cite issues important to the 9th District’s rural communities as priorities, including the support of ethanol use and production and the designation of more money to maintain rural roads.

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