It’s deja vu all over again in the race for state representative from the 61st District.
That spot is currently held by Justin Alferman, R-Hermann, who will again be facing former educator Tom Smith, D-Washington.
The two squared off against each other for the same seat in 2014, with Alferman coming out on top.
The Missourian asked both candidates the same questions regarding issues facing Missouri and more specifically, Franklin County, as they pertain to this office.
Why are you running for office?
Alferman, who had marked success as a freshman legislator, said there are issues he feels strongly about and wants to continue to keep fighting for.
“I am running for state representative to bolster and strengthen our community,” Alferman said. “Everything from education to roads and bridges in one way or the other runs through our state Legislature. I want to make sure the 61st District has a representative who shares our values on how to approach these issues.”
Smith said he is running because there is a role to play for everyone concerned about the middle class and working families in Franklin County and the 61st House District.
“I stand for all organized labor and have labor union support to fight and oppose the Right to Work, and the Prevailing Wage Repeal legislation which will directly affect our middle class values,” Smith said. “I stand for American values and for the citizens of House District 61 to have the right to vote.”
Smith added health care is a major issue facing the state and Franklin County is lucky its hospitals haven’t been affected yet and will work to prevent it.
“I would strive to enact and enforce the Affordable Care Act and expand Medicaid which will provide quick access to jobs in the 61st District,” Smith said. “If we don’t have a strong medical system throughout the state, we will diminish our chances of attracting businesses who want to establish a working relationship in Missouri.”
Alferman says the state’s crumbling roads and infrastructure are one of his top priorities.
“The state of Missouri needs to find a method of funding our roads and bridges,” Alferman said. “With the growth that Washington and Franklin County are going through, this is not a problem that will go away. New road construction also brings with it good-paying jobs to the area.”
What would you keep/change if elected?
With the terms “crooked” and “career” politicians being thrown about during this election cycle, Alferman said he wants to continue the fight to clean-up the capital.
“I want to continue my push to bring the most ethical government we can to Jefferson City,” Alferman said. “I have sponsored a lobbyist gift ban for the past two years and will continue to push the issue again in future years. Making sure that we send elected officials to Jefferson City who serve us and not themselves is important.”
With a long background in education, Smith says he will push for funding changes in that area.
“The school districts in Franklin County and House District 61 need full funding,” Smith said. “More jobs for teachers and smaller class sizes will be realized and our students will be better qualified to become productive citizens. It’s cruel and unusual punishment for our children when present legislators compromise for token half measures.” Smith added better education can also help residents find better jobs at higher wages.
A fair wage and the prevailing wage in labor should not be compromised,” Smith said. “Strong union representation throughout all industry and service sectors will provide the 61st House District, Franklin County and all of Missouri with a competent, qualified and professional workforce that will attract “job makers” to invest and grow with Missouri.”
Alferman believes jobs are also an important as well as supporting existing businesses.
“Jobs and the economy are the biggest issues facing the district,” Alferman said. “How do we achieve that? By making sure that businesses, current and new startups, have an environment that they can grow and prosper. I am proud to have the endorsements of Missouri NFIB and the Missouri Chamber for my commitment to ensuring that businesses can grow in Missouri.”
Finally The Missourian asked each candidate the simple question of why should the residents of the 61st District vote for them.
“I believe that I have the values that are representational of the 61st District,” Alferman said. “Being pro-life and the only candidate endorsed by Missouri Right is a key issue for us in the 61st District. Protecting Second Amendment rights, bolstering new job growth, and fighting for ethical government is what I hear most often when I go door to door or meet with constituents. Those are the issues I have been fighting for and will continue to fight for in Jefferson City.”
Smith said the people of the 61st District should vote for him, because he stands for transparency in all government interaction with all representatives and lobbyists.
“There needs to be a deliberate transparent process between the lobbyists and representatives with public disclosure of meetings beyond the Ethics Commission requirements,” Smith said. “Beginning with written submissions by the lobbyist on any issue the lobbyist wants addressed on the floor by a representative. Furthermore, all meetings with lobbyists only happen in the confines of the House or Senate chambers and offices, not off-site, outside of the Capitol. I’ll buy the coffee!”