Where one candidate sees a safe and secure election process, another sees efforts to restrict access to the polls.
One candidate says he advocates for cattle farmers, while his challenger says the Legislature is selling off the state to foreign corporations.
The Republican candidate says Jefferson City has access to affordable, quality health care, while his Democratic challenger points out Missouri has among the highest maternal mortality rates in the nation.
Candidates for the Missouri House of Representatives District 60 seat take different approaches to resolving issues facing the state, including challenges to these issues facing their constituents.
Incumbent Dave Griffith, a Republican, and challenger J. Don Salcedo, a Democrat, are vying to see who will represent the district that makes up most of Jefferson City. District 60 generally follow city lines, except it excludes North Jefferson City (north of the Missouri River) and a portion of the city south of U.S. 50 and west of Missouri 179.
The News Tribune posed reader-submitted questions about these issues to the candidates during a forum earlier this month. It continues to forward readers' questions that were not posed during the forum to the candidates.
This report looks at responses to three questions. Responses may be edited for clarity and length.
The first question looks at challenges local farmers face.
Q. Our family has a herd of cattle on our family farm. We are barely recovering our costs from our cattle sales. At the same time, beef prices are soaring. Someone is making a lot of money, but it is not the small farmer. What help can you propose for small cattle farmers?
Griffith: This is a big concern not only for me but for all of my colleagues in the General Assembly. There are a number of costs that go in to the final cost of beef while it makes its way to the end user. I am a big supporter of the Missouri Cattleman's Association and have worked with them throughout my tenure in the House and will continue to be an advocate for cattle farmers in both small farms and larger cattle operations. Since the redistricting and new map, this is new to my district as before all I had was urban and no cattle operations in the old district.
Salcedo: Agriculture is essential to Missouri, and at its heart are our family farms. A healthy food chain requires economically viable family farms and consumers who have access to fresh, local food at affordable prices. But over the past few years, Republicans have voted to prioritize foreign corporate ownership of our state's farmland, over farms owned by local families. Just this past year, Republicans passed a bill taking control from local communities to regulate large feeding operations (CAFOs), allowing large scale operations to buy up local farms, put family farms out of business and pollute our communities without local oversight. I'll support those policies that work to strengthen the viability of our family farms instead of corporate profits, promote market competition and diversity, legislation that stops foreign corporate ownership of Missouri farmland, and will work to protect local control, giving ordinary citizens a say on how farming operates in their community.
Q. Missouri recently passed a voter ID bill that survived its first court challenge. The new law is a result of a push by Republicans in the Statehouse to enact stricter voting requirements as a way to ensure election integrity. Do you believe Missouri needs tougher election laws to ensure election security or do you believe it is an effort to suppress voter participation? Explain your answer.
Salcedo: The Missouri Constitution states the right to vote is fundamental in our state, yet the new voter law is a blatant attempt to suppress voting. I support new measures that will make it easier, not harder for all our citizens to vote, including early voting, same-day registration, and voting by mail. Many obstacles exist to get a new photo ID: obtaining birth or marriage certificates (often from other states), taking time off from work, no access to transportation or physically unable to travel to a DMV, and in some rural areas, no DMV office. And filling out a provisional ballot is no guarantee that your vote will ultimately count. The law is designed to discourage many people from voting, including senior citizens, students, persons with disabilities, and already marginalized persons such as low-income workers. One of my first priorities, if elected, is to repeal this oppressive bill.
Griffith: As I stated in the forum, I believe that my constituents within the 60th District can feel safe with their vote. Many of my constituents reached out to me after the 2020 election with concerns about voter integrity and wanted to make sure their votes counted. In conversations with the Secretary of State's office, our Cole County Clerk's Office and with other county clerks across the state, I believe all voters can feel confident in the system that is in place. The Secretary of State has made it clear that if anyone needs a non-driver's license, they can be obtained at no cost to the voter and there are alternative identification options to the voter. Voting is a privilege and -- I feel -- the duty of every citizen to exercise that right and have a voice in their government and in choosing their leaders. No one should feel like their vote didn't count.
Q. Overall, how would you rate the accessibility and affordability of health care in Missouri? How would you improve it?
Griffith: I believe that in the 60th District we have access to affordable health care and that many of these are underutilized. The Community Health Center of Central Missouri is a great example. I have had two site visits to this wonderful facility, and they not only have regular business hours but have "after-hour care," where the patient can call a number and be connected with a provider. One of the areas that is of concern for me is prenatal care and counseling. The mortality rate of babies in the state is a shocking statistic and in my conversations with the community health care, they are addressing and giving instructions to new mothers to be on proper care for their newborn child. On my freshman tour, we were able to see this in the Kansas City and Springfield areas. And in Kansas City, they reported improved numbers on infant mortality. I believe health care in the 60th District is accessible and affordable if those needed have good information. I told the folks at the community health center they are one of the city's best-kept secrets and that more people need to know of the services provided and how to access these services.
Salcedo: My approach to health care will be guided by the principle that everyone deserves access to quality, affordable, affirming health care, no matter where they live or how much money they make. That means restoring the right of all our citizens to make their own health care decisions with the doctor they choose, including access to abortion health care. Missouri ranks among the lowest tier of states in terms of health care access, quality and personal health. We also have one of the highest maternal mortality rates. That's because the Republican majority has ignored the health care needs of its citizens, as evidenced by its efforts to sabotage the expansion of Medicaid services to children, rural farm families, senior citizens, nursing home residents, elderly veterans and low-income families who need access to basic health care to succeed. I'll advocate for Medicaid funding, support for rural hospitals struggling to stay open, expanding mental health services across the state, and protecting access to health care services for women, including contraception, cancer screenings and post-natal care.