It is a lot of fun to have this forum for communication. Last week, I went over the geography of the 51st District.
This week I want to discuss what I have been up to. On Feb. 27, my friend and I drove to Jefferson City with the intention of me filing for the state representative position. We decided to go in the afternoon, as we knew it would be crazy busy in the morning. The incumbents were all there, standing in line for long periods in the morning, and so the afternoon was a breeze. It really doesn’t make a difference when you file on the first day, as you grab a random number from a drum and then, at the end of the day, those numbers are drawn against anyone else running for your position in the primary. I was unopposed at that time and so it did not matter. Current thinking is that being at the top of the ballot is an advantage. Perhaps this is true on races where you are a relatively unknown. However, in a smaller election, such as this one, people tend to know you, or at least something about you. I intend to start door-to-door campaigning sometime next week. I need some door hangers printed and I am also working on leaflets.
I am going to try and concentrate on the rural areas a lot in this campaign, but my actual first stop was Sweet Springs. I had a private chat with Mayor Friel and got a general idea of the city’s immediate problems. I followed that up with a visit to the city council meeting on March 12, where the Aldermen were having to make tough choices on a limited budget. I’ve been there, and I could empathize. They have to raise the sewage rates as their lift stations are getting old, and the current budget does not allow for replacements. They are being cautiously proactive and going for a smaller increase, but planning ahead to avoid being unable to pay for expensive repairs later. There were other interesting situations that night as well, including some regulations about a tiny house in the city limits. I was reminded of my city council days here in Marshall.
Next was Warrensburg. I spoke with Gary Grigsby, who ran in 2012 and 2014. He is well connected with the party and does a lot of work with them. He is doing the right thing, and waiting to see if I am opposed before committing to me or anyone else, but he did offer me the same advice as he would any other primary candidate. I am grateful for his expertise. On March 13, I drove to Kansas City to the 40 Club meeting held at the offices of Sheet Metal Workers Local Union 2.
They had candidates there who spoke, and I was able to introduce myself. There was a discussion about Proposition A. You may recall that our legislature passed the “Right to Work” law without a vote of the people. I truly think that the people should always be consulted before something of that magnitude is passed. There are plenty of election opportunities, and large measures such as this one that impact many peoples’ lives should be on the ballot. Anyway, the unions got to work and got enough signatures together to get Proposition A placed on the ballot. The Republican-controlled legislature is in herd mentality on this and have not yet set a date for the election. They are trying to determine which date will have the best result for them. I would propose that, in the future, once signatures for similar bills are ratified and approved, that the proposal be placed on the earliest available open election date after six months. This would make everything uniform and keep the special interest groups at bay. Make no mistake, this involves BIG money and the corporations want to bust the unions. I was a dentist, and never a union member, but my father-in-law was a union member and the unions did right by him, even as their power diminished. I do think that teachers and other like groups should have the right to form unions. There is strength in numbers, and the teachers in West Virginia just proved it, getting themselves a much needed 5 percent raise. A good article to read about Missouri’s situation can be found here : https://www.news-leader.com/story/news/politics/2017/08/18/new-missouri-right-to-work-law-suspended/581153001.
I am going to quite a few Democratic functions in the following weeks. A local meeting is scheduled in Marshall on March 20, at the municipal court building on Eastwood. It is scheduled for 7 p.m. Maybe some of you can make that meeting and see what is going on at the local level. There is another meeting on the 19th in Warrensburg that I will attend, as well. I need for the local Democrats to know me and my views. Also, there is a lot of wisdom and knowledge to be gained by showing up and listening.
I meant to discuss the school walkouts across the country today, but I am nearing the end of my column, so I will just say that I am proud of our young people. They are our future, and repeated disasters have made them active a lot earlier than anyone planned. It sort of reminds me of my college days when people were against the war in Viet Nam. We got tired of seeing our friends go to a war that the politicians never really expected to win. The establishment at that time tried to write us off as uneducated rabble rousers, but we all know how that turned out for them. Power to our youth! I think we are in good hands in the future with them!
One other quick reminder; there are a few contested elections in Marshall and the election date is April 3. There will be a candidate’s forum at the Knights of Columbus Hall on March 20, at 6:15 p.m.