After recent candidate forums, the News Tribune asked those running for state offices some follow-up questions posed by readers.
Here are the responses to some of those questions from the Republican candidates for the 59th District Missouri House seat, who seek to represent most of Jefferson City.
Responses may have been edited for length and clarity.
In the order they are listed on the ballot, the GOP candidates are Karen Leydens, Rudy Veit, Randy Dinwiddie, Kendra Lane, and Rik Combs.
Lane did not submit a response to these questions by press time.
The winner of the Aug. 7 primary will face Democrat Linda Greeson, of Eldon, in the Nov. 6 general election. Greeson has no opponent in the primary and, therefore, was not included in this story.
From readers Jeanine Kunz and Jeannie McGowan: How do you stand on Prop A, right to work and prevailing wages?
Leydens: I believe the First Amendment freedom of association protects a worker's right to join a union. Our nation is most successful when people's rights, including their right to make economic decisions, are respected.
Veit: The voters will speak on Proposition A in a couple of weeks, and I will respect the result of that vote. If related issues come up while I am in the Legislature, I will consider each one carefully, based on their individual merits. The Legislature passed, and the governor has signed, prevailing wage legislation. I know the legislation was considered carefully by our current legislators, and we will soon see the impact of the new law.
Dinwiddie: I have supported right to work since 2010.
Combs: The people, as always, will decide on Prop A, or right to work, and we must abide by the will of the voters. However, on a personal note, I'm strongly opposed to forcing workers to join unions as a condition of employment. Forcing people to join organizations is anathema to the founding principles of America. Prevailing wages are established by the state. I personally don't believe the government should set prices or wages, as I'm a proponent of limited government and free enterprise. The public sector regulates itself far more efficiently than government ever will.
From reader Susan Randolph: Will you accept money from the National Rifle Association? Explain.
Leydens: There are numerous citizens in the 59th District who belong to the National Rifle Association (NRA) and believe in the right to self-defense. They have a First Amendment right to freely associate and engage in political activism, including making donations to candidates of their choice. I have not received any contribution from the NRA, but I am proud to have the support of so many of their members in our community.
Veit: Yes, I would. The National Rifle Association performs a vital role in protecting the Second Amendment and the rights it affords all Americans. Their work in the areas of gun safety and education are commendable. Simply accepting a campaign contribution does not mean that I will agree to their every request, and any measure brought before me will be considered carefully. As a hunter, gun owner, and conceal and carry permit holder, I believe strongly in the constitutional right to bear arms and protect our homes and family.
Dinwiddie: No. I do not support any special-interest group, and do not believe in accepting any money from lobbyists or special interest groups. (Money from lobbyists) has turned our Capitol into a zoo of people who should be leading a state, into a group of people scrambling to collect as much cash and goodies for themselves, at the expense of hard-working Missourians. I am a member of the NRA. But that does not mean that everything they are selling I am buying. I support owning guns to protect yourself I do not support the scare tactics used by the NRA.
Combs: Most definitely. As a card-carrying member of the National Rifle Association, and an A-rated candidate, I would be most honored and gratified to accept money from this organization. Self-defense is a God-given right (superseding even our own constitutional Second Amendment), and the NRA is the front line for gun rights in America. I am 100 percent for self-defense and gun rights, and will never apologize for being so. That being said, I would always vote my conscience and do the will of the people in the 59th District.
From reader Sarah Reid: Do you support de-funding Planned Parenthood? Explain.
Leydens: I do not believe that taxpayer money should be used to fund abortion, but instead should be used to promote women's health and child services.
Veit: I am strongly against abortion and do not believe tax dollars should be used to support it. It really boils down to the choice of Planned Parenthood: If they want to provide valuable health services to women in Missouri, then they must accept the fact that we do not want to pay for abortions with tax dollars.
Dinwiddie: I am against irresponsible abortion and taxpayers paying for the services. I am not against the public paying for birth control, and counseling for women in need during their pregnancy, as long as it is not an irresponsible, re-occurring issue for repeat offenders. Children are not accidents. They are not a choice. They are a person. We need to support unique situations to help responsible women who just have a temporary need, to get them through their pregnancy. Or we should keep birth control handy to keep irresponsible births from getting out of control.
Combs: From my many years of military service, including many operations and conflicts, I've seen enough death and destruction to last a lifetime; therefore, I'm firmly pro-life in all matters. Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions in the country at over 300,000 per year, and accepts hundreds of millions in taxpayers' dollars every year under the guise of "women's health." No public funds should ever go for any organization, which many taxpayers object to on religious grounds — I would de-fund Planned Parenthood.
From reader Jeannie McGowan: What are your thoughts about the minimum wage?
Leydens: If we have a strong economy with robust growth, employers will have to compete for labor by paying a wage much higher than the minimum. I support pro-growth government policies like reduced regulations, tax reform and investment in infrastructure.
Veit: In our present climate, with the demand for workers so great, I believe the market will dictate wages substantially higher than our current minimum wage for those who accept the responsibility of a good job and are willing to work for it.
Dinwiddie: Investing in our work staff will insure that Missourians lead by example that working together pays off. The business pays a fair wage and the employee remembers the importance of spending money on the products that they build, or the services that their employer provides, instead of spending money on cheap trinkets from China. The minimum wage is too low. If I were able, I would raise the minimum wage to at least $11 per hour, with the costs of transportation and the time it takes to get to and from work, this is a fair minimum wage.
Combs: If the federal government persists in having a minimum wage, Missouri should mirror that minimum wage and not exceed it. However, I strongly believe in free enterprise and allowing the market to regulate itself. The government has no business setting price or wage controls. The minimum wage was established for entry-level jobs, and never intended as a "living wage." Price and wage controls are socialist in nature, and I can't in good conscience endorse socialist policies. I'm a traditional American, not a socialist.