Three-term state Rep. Paul Curtman, R-Union, is running for his fourth and final term for the 109th District House seat. He is facing Green Party candidate and Labadie resident Ellen Skiljan, who is new to politics.
The Missourian asked each candidate the same set of questions regarding the future of Franklin County and how it pertains to this particular office.
Why are you running for this office?
Incumbent Curtman says he is asking for the vote of people who value personal freedom and fiscally conservative policy.
“Missouri has an archaic tax and regulatory environment that robs people of their personal and economic freedom,” Curtman said. “I have authored tax policy reform that has become law and I will continue to work in that area until our tax policy becomes competitive and allows more money to stay in the hands of the people who earned it to help our economy grow and prosper as a whole.”
Skiljan says she is running after being asked to give voters a choice.
“It was brought to my attention that the person running in this district was running unopposed,” Skiljan said. “I’m a registered Republican, who has just as often voted Democrat and has been recruited by the Green Party.”
What problems do you think need to be addressed in Franklin County?
Skiljan says drugs, transportation issues, jobs and health care are on the top of a long list of things affecting the county and District 109.
“The recent reconstruction of the 47/50 intersection has not resulted in any improvement of the traffic conditions,” Skiljan said. “We have a large problem with job creation at sustainable wages. A goodly portion of our residents lack access to a reliable food source and healthcare. There is also a big problem with drugs and alcohol and I see it starting earlier and earlier in our youth.”
Curtman agrees with his opponent on transportation issues affecting the county.
“I hear two issues regularly: schools and roads,” Curtman said. “Transportation is an issue that I know people of Franklin County care much about but I also know they want a responsible state government to improve our road situation without raising taxes as the first resource. The state can do it, too, it just takes a Legislature and executive departments that are willing to do the work. With a transportation infrastructure plan that makes financial sense and doesn’t gouge the tax payer, we could expect to see a good deal of growth in Franklin County.”
What do you plan to keep/change if elected?
Curtman says his aim is to tighten down on accountability to prevent further waste.
“I have helped change certain oversight and transparency laws in Jefferson City,” Curtman said. “I plan to change the entire culture so that it becomes the norm for legislators to follow up with state audits to ensure our tax dollars are not being wasted.”
Skiljan says she would work to increase some programs and diminish others.
“I would like to see Medicaid expanded to provide more jobs and a healthier workforce,” Skiljan said. “Right to Work needs to be soundly defeated and the school funding formula needs to be fully funded. Only with a strong, healthy and educated workforce can our economy grow without compromising the quality of life. Without the hope for an expectation of a better life, our youth will continue to leave.”
Finally, The Missourian simply asked the candidates why residents should vote for them.
Curtman says his track record of bucking the system has served his constituents well and he hopes to continue that fight for another two years.
“I’m an independent-minded conservative Republican who is not afraid to fight big government legislation that robs our people of their economic and personal freedom,” Curtman said. “I’m committed to following the state and national Constitution and I have been endorsed by the NRA and Missouri Right to Life.”
Skiljan says her independence should be a key factor in winning votes.
“People should vote for me if they want things to change,” Skiljan said. “I’m an independent thinker. I’m not 100 percent blue or red. I’m me!”