The two candidates running for the new 109th Missouri House District are both hoping to put their past experiences to work in Jefferson City, but that’s where most of the similarities end.
Paul Curtman, a Republican with a Pacific address who said he recently moved to Union in order to establish residency in the new district, has served one year in the House already.
Under the old district boundaries, Curtman represented the 105th district, which included Pacific and areas of Jefferson County.
The redistricting put Curtman’s Pacific address in the district of the new speaker of the Missouri House, Tim Jones.
His opponent is Democrat Ann Schroeder, a lifelong Union resident who is completing her third four-year term as Franklin County second district commissioner.
Curtman was first elected to the house in 2010.
The 31-year-old Pacific High School graduate said he first got involved in politics with the “tea party” movement.
“In July 2009, the tea party helped bring politics to more kitchen tables than it had been at before,” he said.
Curtman said his interest in politics grew after he returned from active Marine Corps duty in 2004.
He said politicians who had been in favor of military action suddenly were against the wars.
Curtman said that led him to develop a deeper sensitivity to things happening in government.
“There’s nothing wrong with changing your mind, but not when it is done just to get more votes,” he said.
Goals for Government
Curtman said his views on limited government are more easily exercised at a higher level, such as in Jefferson City.
That’s why, he said, he didn’t pursue a city or county office first.
Schroeder said her decision to run for the state office was because she didn’t see any other quality, local candidates.
“When this opportunity came up, I had already decided I wasn’t running for (county) commissioner,” she said. “But I still believe in public service. It can and should be an honorable profession.”
Following the redistricting, Schroeder said, Union, her hometown, is the largest city in the 109th.
The new 109th District includes Union, Pacific and a portion of Washington.
Curtman’s campaign has received over $85,000 in contributions including thousands from Jan Brunner, the wife of former U.S. Senate candidate John Brunner.
Schroeder’s campaign has generated under $12,000, according to October campaign finance reports filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.
She said the majority of her contributions have come from individuals.
“Sometimes it is $25. Sometimes it is $50. To those people, that represents a lot of money and it means a lot to me,” Schroeder said.
Curtman has a degree in political science from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
He worked as a financial adviser following his time in the Marines.
Curtman said he wants to use that financial experience to help the state.
“The Marines taught me you can’t count on the wrong people to do the right thing,” he said.
Curtman said he’ll continue to run for office “as long as there are people (in Jefferson City) making poor financial decisions.
“God puts opportunities in front of me. As a Christian, it is a responsibility to do what I can,” he said.
Schroeder’s education includes a high school diploma from Union High and a degree in administration from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Before her time on the county commission, she worked in the parks departments in both Webster Groves and Union for a combined 24 years.
Schroeder said her time working as a city government employee led to her decision to get into politics.
“You have to put yourself out there for public service,” she said.
Planning for Growth
The candidates differ on their views of how the state can help encourage business growth.
Curtman said the state shouldn’t be risking tax dollars for economic ventures, including on tax credit programs.
“The jobs will come, we just have to get out of the way,” he said. “Economic prosperity will follow the path of least resistance.”
Part of Curtman’s plan includes revising and eliminating state regulations and licensing requirements.
He specifically noted interior designers, which he said have to be licensed in Missouri.
“Our government should cooperate with the people, not make it harder for them,” Curtman said.
Schroeder said the state needs to concentrate even more on economic development.
“The state needs to give tools to the cities and counties. It’s good for all of us,” she said. “It means more jobs and more revenue for schools.”
Schroeder said she takes a special interest in education and county government and hopes to become involved in legislation benefitting both.
“If something comes up, I’ll take it on for the good of the county,” she said.
Curtman said he will champion revisions to existing family law statutes and a bill he sponsored this year to allow precious metals like gold and silver to be used as liquid equity similar to a money market account.
Schroeder said she has no specific agenda, and will instead look to champion bills benefitting the county and its residents.
“I hope to work with our other area representatives and find similarities and common ground,” she said.
Curtman said being respectful of constituents and fellow representatives helps in the absence of common ground.
“I’d rather make friends than enemies. Just making sure you have class will go a long way with people,” he said.