Following candidate forums the News Tribune held Thursday at Jefferson City Hall, the newspaper sent additional questions, some reader-submitted, that had not been asked because of time constraints.
Here are the responses from Kevin Nelson and Sara Michael, the Democratic candidates for the Missouri House of Representatives District 60 seat.
Responses are posted in the order candidates appear on the Aug. 7 ballot.
Answers may have been edited for length and clarity.
Q: The legislative position you are seeking is technically a part-time job. But with this campaign, you likely have seen the amount of work and time the job can demand. How do you plan to balance your legislative duties with your personal/professional responsibilities?
Nelson: Our days are filled with work, children, church and day-to-day tasks. I rely heavily on the discipline I was taught in the U.S. Army. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, and it's how you plan your day that counts. Always have a plan and work that plan. I own and operate my own small business that I have made from the ground up. I go back and forth between owner and employee every day. I am now training a new employee that will help in my absence during this campaign and into the new legislative session.
Michael: As a single mother, business owner and active member of my community, I've perfected the ability to not only multi-task but also receive, process and apply information to the job at hand. I am blessed with an incredible extended family, to include my children's father, my in-laws and my own parents, and they have been an unending source of support. I intend to continue my hard work and focus for my clients and children as well as devote my considerable energy to working tirelessly for the citizens of the 60th District.
Q: From reader Jeff Holzem: If elected, what specific steps will you take to promote renewable energy in Missouri?
Nelson: Renewable energy sources are the future. Transferring to renewable energy will help to create new jobs and will stimulate our economy. I will work with renewable energy companies already in Missouri to ensure they have what they need to succeed. We need to explore all our options such as solar, wind, geothermal and biofuels and make sure that Missouri has the proper infrastructure and workforce in place and ready to go to work. Missouri has put in place standards on renewable energy, which is good, but we still have a lot of work to do.
Michael: Though our state is rich in resources including corn and soybean production, wind and hydroelectric power, and approximately 200 sunny days a year to capture solar, developing technology to harness and save the power should be a priority. Continuing support of corn and soybeans production, locally, to supply generation of biofuels is one way to promote renewables. Another is tax credits or rebates to individuals to generate investment in renewables. I support the Net Metering and Easy Connection Act, which provides that all utilities have to compensate individual residents the excess energy produced at that residence through renewable energy.
Q: From readers Tricia Schlechte and Tom Sadowski: Given the recent Supreme Court decision regarding online sales taxes, what do you consider the highest priorities for any additional revenue the state might receive due to this?
Nelson: I know some believe that our schools have been funded properly, but changing the foundation formula is not the same thing as fully funding our schools. The foundation formula was put in place to ensure that our schools would have the funding they need. We have schools in 25 of Missouri's districts that are exploring going to a four-day school week in attempts to save money on day-to-day expenses. When I see this, it tells me we are not fulfilling our obligation to our children by fully funding public education. New revenues will help us to fill that gap.
Michael: Despite the messaging to the contrary, the argument that we have fully funded our children's education is simply not true. Our Republican-controlled Legislature changed the school funding formula in recent years to allow the state to actually contribute less, leaving the heaviest burden on the local communities to keep their schools and children from failing. Though dollar-for-dollar the state budget provides for more money this year than last, there is no accounting for inflation and in fact, the state has failed to fund our children's future by more than $800 million each year since 2008. This is unacceptable.