The mid-term congressional election is less than two months away and some observers wonder whether the event will be all about nothing.
Nov. 01--Southern Pettis County voters will weigh in Tuesday on a three-way race for the newly drawn 54th Missouri House of Representatives district.
The district, which includes the western half of Warrensburg and Johnson County, as well as Green Ridge and portions of the political subdivisions of Elk Fork, Prairie, Washington, Flat Creek and Lake Creek in Pettis County, is the home district of incumbent state Rep. Denny Hoskins, a Warrensburg Republican. Hoskins faces a challenge from Nancy Maxwell, a Pittsville Democrat, and Eddie Osborne, a Warrensburg independent.
Hoskins is seeking his third term in the legislature after being elected to office in 2008 and re-election in 2010. He is chairman of the House Appropriations -- Transportation and Economic Development committee and is the only professional certified public accountant serving in the Missouri General Assembly.
He also serves on House committees covering budget, higher education, veterans and renewable energy, and said his primary concern as a lawmaker is "making sure we have a balanced budget without raising taxes and encouraging job creation."
He has sponsored
legislation to limit government regulations on small businesses and offering tax credits to small businesses that hire new employees making at least the average county wage.
Looking ahead to a potential new term, he said he would focus on tax credit and campaign finance disclosure reform.
"I want to take a look at tax credits and make sure they are serving the purpose they were intended to. We need to re-evaluate those and make sure they are working and see what changes need to be made," Hoskins said.
Following a costly Missouri Senate primary race for his fellow Warrensburg Republican state Sen. Dave Pearce, Hoskins said he is opposed to nonprofit political groups spending outside money on campaigns without disclosing their source.
"I believe who pays for different ads should be open and transparent. Some people have found loopholes by creating nonprofits," Hoskins said. "When you have nonprofits created for the sole purpose of lobbying and campaigns, those donors should have to be disclosed just like we do on regular campaign finance reports."
Hoskins is also seeking the House speaker pro tem position, with that vote due to take place on Wednesday if he is successful in his re-election bid.
Maxwell, a former tax specialist with the Internal Revenue Service and Kansas City Life Insurance Company, has lived in Johnson County for about 15 years.
Now retired, she serves on the building board for the Holden Senior Center and has been a senator for the Missouri Silver Haired Legislature, a fully elected senior advocacy group, for 10 years. She said her experience with that group and the lack of other candidates in the race motivated her to run for the office.
"When no one stepped up to the plate for the state rep seat, I thought, 'Why not me?' " Maxwell told the Democrat. "This is such a middle-America section of the U.S. I understand the problems middle America faces every day. I want to do this for seniors, do it for all of my friends and neighbors."
She said a prime focus for her, if elected, would be economic development and transportation infrastructure improvements for rural Missouri. She would also oppose earmarks in appropriation bills, work to balance the state's budget and try to increase bipartisanship in Jefferson City.
Funding for education would also be a top priority, and she said she favors the proposed cigarette tax and would support an Internet sales tax.
"Holden schools could suffer a $600,000 shortfall next year, and I know that is true for a lot of these rural districts. An Internet sales tax and the tobacco tax would add revenue to the budget. Also, a lot of our small-town businesses suffer because people go online and get things cheaper by not paying taxes on them," Maxwell said.
Beyond the funding issue, Maxwell said "we have good schools and excellent teachers" in Missouri, but believes their efforts are frustrated by too much emphasis on standardized test scores.
"They worry more about tests instead of making students successful and able to stand on their own two feet," Maxwell said.
Osborne, a Navy veteran, former business owner and hospitality industry worker, said he believes the two-party system has broken down and that Jefferson City would benefit from new, independent voices.
"Each and every thing I have done professionally has involved working with diverse groups of people and I have learned to cooperate and build positive working relationships," Osborne said. "My primary motivation is the fact that the major parties tend to demonize their opponents and I think we are better people than that."
A political newcomer, Osborne said high-dollar campaigns have corrupted the political process and he believes "influence is going to the highest bidder."
Among his top priorities, if elected, are veterans affairs, especially making sure the state is providing mental health care, education services to younger veterans and making sure the state continues to support veterans homes.
He said the state could do more to make sure military personnel are more easily able to transfer college credits from state to state, and would push for improved education funding at the secondary and post-secondary levels.
He also said he would work to protect the state's teacher retirement system.
"There have been moves afoot to change some of that. The teacher retirement system is in pretty good shape and I don't think they should be penalized for the success of their pension plan," Osborne said.
In addition, he said he wants to review government regulations to make sure they are applied fairly and "just make common sense," and is in favor of the tobacco tax and Internet sales tax.
(c)2012 The Sedalia Democrat (Sedalia, Mo.)
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