Incumbent Republican State Sen. Dave Schatz, 54, Sullivan, will have to get past Democratic challenger John Kiehne, 51, if he wants to serve his second and final term in the state Senate.
Kiehne, who has never held a political office in the past, hopes to flip the seat, which has been held by a Republican for decades.
Kiehne is a self-employed musician and lives in St. Albans with his wife of 10 years, Michelle. He has four grown children and has worked as a foster parent and advocate for 11 years.
Schatz resides in Sullivan with his wife Chara. Together, they have five children. He is vice president of Schatz Underground and served as state representative and on the Spring Bluff School board before winning his Senate seat in 2014.
Why are you running for office?
Schatz says it’s all about the future.
“I am running for state Senate so my children and grandchildren can live, work and raise a family, and have the same opportunities that Chara and I have had,” he said. “That is why I fight for safer roads through better funding, lower income taxes and fewer regulations. I want state policy based on common sense.”
Kiehne says District 26 deserves better representation.
“I haven’t seen the needs of our community met or even properly addressed, and I would like the opportunity to build on our successes while addressing our struggles,” Kiehne said. “I believe that with strong and focused leadership we can address issues such as struggling schools, poverty, addiction, the health care crisis and a lack of gainful employment to make Franklin County a better place to live, work and play.”
What, in your opinion, is the most important issue facing Franklin County?
Kiehne feels poverty, homelessness, addiction and the lack of opportunity are major concerns for many Franklin County residents.
“I have three legislative priorities: education, health care and employment,” Kiehne said. “I believe that the long-term solutions for the problems that plague our communities will come about by focusing on those three areas.”
Schatz says there are four main areas that need attention.
“Infrastructure, workforce development and public safety all need shoring up in our region and our state,” Schatz said. “I want bridges that are well-maintained so our families and businesses can travel safely. I want the state to get serious about having a trained workforce so Missourians can earn a good living and attract quality employers. I also want to ensure that our first responders are adequately funded. Finally, I want to continue my work addressing the opioid epidemic by helping addicts get treatment and getting doctors the tools they need to limit overuse of opioids.”
What do you hope to change/keep if elected?
If elected, Schatz says he will address the rising cost of higher education, continue to work on lawsuit reform so Missouri courts aren’t targets for attorneys looking for a payday on the backs of our businesses.
“I also want to invest more in infrastructure and workforce development,” he said. “We need more technical training for the next generation of Missouri workers.”
Kiehne wants to make local communities more happy, healthy and prosperous.
“I want to use the power and influence of legislating to not only make our struggling residents more healthy and successful but to help those who are successful to maintain and progress as well,” Kiehne said. “I will not use our state Legislature to enrich myself and campaign donors to the detriment of my district and my state.”
Why should residents vote for you?
Kiehne says he recognizes that elected government officials are being trusted to act as public servants.
“Their actions should be focused primarily on how to maintain and improve the lives of their constituents and in the case of state legislators, to also recognize their duty to the residents of the entire state as well,” he explained. “I’m running for office not due to ambition or for personal financial gain. I see the office of ‘state senator’ not so much as a position of power and influence but more so as a great responsibility to the people of our district and our state.”
Schatz says he has a proven record and he shares the values of the 26th District.
“Franklin and western St. Louis counties are full of hardworking families who want safer communities, a fiscally responsible state government that will provide high-quality infrastructure,” Schatz said. “This is a conservative area that supports our law enforcement just as I have and I want to continue representing those values in our state capitol.”