The power of local governments, criminal justice reform and voter suppression were all topics addressed Friday afternoon by both candidates looking to represent Missouri’s 45th House District at the Boone County Muleskinners candidate forum. 

Candidates David Tyson Smith and Glenn Nielsen participated. The forum was led by Muleskinners’ Co-President David Mallory and moderated by Leslie Clay.

Candidates were first asked about “the idea of preemption and local control” by Muleskinners’ Co-President Karl Skala. 

Skala is referring to "the idea that a higher authority of law will displace the law of a lower authority of law when the two authorities come into conflict," according to Cornell Law School's Legal Information Institute. 

Both candidates agree that “we need local control.” 

Smith, the Democratic candidate, said that Columbia has a unique role as "a blue county in a sea of red" and that to pursue more liberal policies, specifically public health policies, it is important to maintain that local control. 

Libertarian candidate Glenn Nielsen partially agreed, “but there also needs to be checks and balances, because you can have tyrants at the state level and tyrants at the federal level, but you can also have tyrants at the local level.”  

When asked about what topics they would want to focus on if elected, Nielsen spoke about criminal justice reform and advocated for a restructuring of how traffic laws are enforced. 

“In the state of New Hampshire, traffic enforcement is done solely for a safety reason … . Fines paid go to a general fund of the state legislature rather than to the local police or the local communities. What this does is it changes incentives so that law enforcement is doing traffic stops for safety reasons rather than for generating funding,” Nielsen said.  

Nielsen cited a study from the Show Me Institute: “Some of the suburbs around the city of St. Louis were generating more than 30% of their revenue from fining their own citizens. I think you need to remove the incentive for people to be fined, which is oppressive, by having those funds go to the general assembly to be distributed.”  

Smith said they are many legislative efforts he would like to push back on if he were to win the election, but his primary concern would be voter suppression.  

"This is a new battleground," he said.

The majority, Smith said, has discovered that "if they can keep people from voting then they're going to maintain power ... . We have to push back.”  

In regard to criminal justice reform, Smith emphasized the importance of "seizing the momentum of what happened this (past) summer" and highlighted Sen. Brian Williams's, D-St. Louis, bill "banning no-knock warrants and chokeholds."  

The full forum can be watched on the Muleskinner's Youtube Channel.

The Muleskinners, a Democratic Party group, will host a forum at noon March 26 for the Columbia School Board Candidates: Teresa Maledy, Jeanne Snodgrass, Katherine Sasser, Lucas Neal and Aron Saylor. 

  • Fall 2020/Spring2021 state government reporter. Summer 2021 advanced reporter. Fall 2021 investigative reporter. Senior studying convergence investigative reporting. Email me at or find me on social @caitlinrhking.

  • Molly Hart is an assistant city editor at the Missourian. She has previously reported on state government. She can be reached at

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