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Term limits prohibit state Rep. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, from running for another two-year term in the House — so he's running to succeed Mike Kehoe in the state Senate.

And there's no shortage of people who want to succeed Bernskoetter in the House district, which covers most of rural Cole County, a portion of eastern and southern Jefferson City, and a part of northern Miller County.

Linda Ellen Greeson has no opponent in the Aug. 7 Democratic Primary, so she'll be on the Nov. 6 ballot facing the winner among the five Republicans who filed — and she isn't a part of this story because she has no primary opposition.

In the order they will appear on the GOP primary ballots, those five candidates are: Karen Leydens, of Jefferson City; Rudy Veit, of Wardsville; Kendra Lane, of Jefferson City; Randy Dinwiddie, of Olean; and Rik Combs, of Lohman.

All of the candidates were asked the same questions; answers were edited only for clarity.

 

Karen Leydens has lived in the Jefferson City area for 47 years and has worked in real estate for 18 years.

She attended local schools, including Lincoln University.

She noted her "political background is volunteering and advocating at the Capitol for the last several years."

For more information, visit www.missouriansforleydens.com or Missourians for Leydens on Facebook.

Her April Missouri Ethics Commission report shows Leydens has raised $10,000 through loans from herself and spent $5,976.89 for advertising, signs and supplies.

At the end of March, she had $4.023.11 cash-on-hand.

Why are you seeking this seat?

"I have always been a public servant and seeking this position has been in my heart for several years. I have been in the Capitol advocating, volunteering and in a prayer group for years.

"As your representative at the Capitol I am committed to keeping your liberties, your property, and constitutional rights protected.

"With my community involvement, experience in small business, and my loyalty to Jefferson City and the surrounding area, I am dedicated to making District 59 and Missouri greater than ever."

What is the most important issue in this election?

"Hand in hand with job creation comes proper preparation for life experiences.

"Capitalizing on the gifts of each student at an early age helps keep each individual and a healthy society moving in the right direction.

"With that said, I believe our educational system must be reviewed for further enhancement."

How might the state pay for much needed infrastructure improvements?

"Once our population has been well educated on the need for infrastructure improvements, I believe citizens will be more likely to vote for a gas tax increase.

"We also need to develop a creative way to tax the new style vehicles that do not use gas."

Missouri ranks about 40th in Health. How can we improve health care for Missourians?

"If a person reviews the most successful health care clinics in the world today, you will see a recognition for the spiritual, emotional and intellectual needs of each individual.

"For too long alternative health has been pushed aside. People should be allowed to choose the type of health care that works best for them.

"Insurance should pay for preventative measures thus saving millions of dollars for all tax payers.

"Veterans' needs must be a top priority when addressing health care concerns."

Missouri has the lowest tobacco tax in the nation. It is about 1/10 the national average. Should the state increase the tobacco tax?

"The tax increase was voted on as recent as 2016 and failed. Over-taxing a particular industry does not heal the issue."

Are there any other issues that are important to you?

"It is imperative to me to protective innocent life from conception to natural death. It is the foundation of respect for all humanity. Without this no law stands in the light of protection for any right. I recently received the endorsement from Missouri Right to Life as the candidate in my race who will be the most effective voice for the protection of innocent human life.

"Recognition and pay increases for Missouri state employees will also be a top priority for me."

 

Rudy Veit is a lifelong Mid-Missouri resident.

"I am currently an attorney and partner with Carson & Coil Law in Jefferson City," he said. "I have a diverse background that includes working at a briquette plant, roofing, equipment sales, and many other jobs through the years."

He has a Facebook page, RudyVeitForStateRepresentative.

"I have been involved in local politics and supported various Republican candidates through the years," Veit said, "but this is the first time I have run for office myself."

According to Missouri Ethics Commission reports, he's been raising money for the longest of any of the five candidates, with $39,815.76 raised since last year and $11,230.83 spent.

At the end of March, he had $17,094.17.

Just in the April 15 report, Veit showed numerous contributors giving $100 or more, including:

$510 — James Gallaher, of Jefferson City.

$500 — Wally Bley, of Columbia; Blake Marcus, of Jefferson City; Clyde Lear, of Jefferson City; Robert Scruggs, of Jefferson City; Steven Rollins, of Jefferson City; and Larry Kolb, of Jefferson City.

$250 — F. Joe DeLong III, Harold Westhues, John Ruth, Roy Michael, Bernard Fechtel, Dale Doerhoff, Robert Robuck, David Turner, Brenda Popp, Debra Brown and Jason Schwartze, all of Jefferson City.

$200 — John Pelzer, of Jefferson City.

Why are you seeking this seat?

"I am running for office because I believe the people of the 59th District deserve a state representative who respects the position — and I will go to the Capitol to represent you, not myself.

"I grew up on a farm in St. Thomas and learned the value of service from a very early age.

"I have sought ways to be involved and serve others my entire life. Service in the state Legislature will be a continuation of that path.

"My years of community involvement as a small business owner and advocate have prepared me to fairly and vigorously represent the constituents of the 59th District in the General Assembly."

What is the most important issue in this election?

"We must do all we can to create an economic environment that allows individuals to provide for themselves and their families.

"To accomplish this we must ensure Missouri has a skilled and educated workforce, and that we attract quality jobs to Central Missouri through small business and economic development programs.

"If elected, I will also work with legislators from across the state to demonstrate in the budget process that increasing state pay will actually save money through increased retention and efficiency. State workers deserve a competitive wage. The more successful our state workforce is, the better it is for our local economy."

How might the state pay for much-needed infrastructure improvements?

"It is the obligation of both the legislature and the public to find a solution to our infrastructure needs so we so not pass the cost to the next generation.

"A modern infrastructure allows individuals and businesses to be more efficient, increases productivity, and attracts industry to our state.

"When the legislature gains the trust of Missourians, I believe they will do what is necessary to solve the problem and not pass this debt to our children.

"If voters pass the gas tax that is on the ballot this fall, it will be the job of state officials to listen to all options before us and, ultimately, make decisions that are fiscally prudent and long lasting. It is time to take action."

Missouri ranks about 40th in health care. How can we improve health care for Missourians?

"We can do better. Far too much cost goes to support the bureaucracy of the health care industry rather than to actual patient care.

"Freeing health care professionals from unnecessary paperwork will help reduce cost and improve the doctor-patient relationship.

"Missouri also suffers from a lack of access to quality care, particularly in rural areas. We need to implement creative ways to attract providers to our communities.

"Individual responsibility for health is a factor as well.

"Unfortunately, high premiums and deductibles lead to individuals not seeking the care they need.

"Bringing these costs down will reduce the misuse of emergency rooms, increase preventative care and have an overall positive impact on the health care system."

Missouri has the lowest tobacco tax in the nation. It is about 1/10 the national average. Should the state increase the tobacco tax? Why or why not?

"Voters have spoken on this issue by rejecting an increase in 2016. I respect that decision."

Lawmakers in recent years have cut income and corporate taxes. Why do you think that was/was not a good idea?

"In recent years, lawmakers have cut income taxes and I support that move. However, it must be coupled with a reduction in spending in order to achieve a balanced budget.

"Generally speaking, when individuals and businesses pay lower taxes, they reinvest directly into the economy.

"Individuals who take home more of what they earn have the opportunity to invest that money in education, homes, cars, etc.

"Businesses that pay a lower corporate tax rate can invest in physical expansion, adding jobs, and increasing pay and benefits to their employees.

"Taxes are a 'necessary evil,' but in general should be limited as much as possible so capitalism and the free market can thrive."

What other issues are important to you and why?

"We must ensure a continuation of laws that protect the unborn and increase support for alternatives to abortion. Women must understand they have a choice.

"Another top priority is protecting our constitutional rights, particularly those under attack such as free speech, ownership of guns, and freedom of the press.

"I also believe education is a priority and must remain in local control. I was educated in Central Missouri, from grade school through law school.

"It is important to support our public schools while at the same time recognize that private school options make our community stronger.

"A traditional four-year degree is valuable but is not for everyone.

"Missouri has a strong community college and technical school system and the Legislature can do more to ensure all types of educational institutions have the tools they need to develop our future workforce."

 

Kendra Lane has lived in Mid-Missouri for 5 years.

She's an attorney with the Hanrahan and Nacy firm, and said this race is her "first true political involvement other than my studies in political science and history. While I have kept up with the political atmosphere I have placed my studies and my clients at the forefront to ensure that they receive my complete attention."

Her website with more details is kendralane.org.

Lane's most recent Missouri Ethics Commission report shows she's raised $1,150 — including a $1,000 in-kind contribution from herself to pay for advertising. She's spent $75, and had $75 cash-on-hand at the end of March.

Why are you seeking this seat?

"I believe that with a working background, a background in law, and the educational background that I can help to represent the interests of the 59th District with a common approach, and an ability to work and negotiate with my fellow government officials to obtain the results that Missourians are asking for and expecting out of their government."

What is the most important issue in this election?

"The most important issue is ensuring that we are electing individuals who are willing to reach across the aisle and work with one another to get things done, to ensure a bright future for the state of Missouri while maintaining the values that they are elected for."

How might the state pay for much-needed infrastructure improvements?

"I believe that our current spending and taxes must be looked at, as well as the contracts that the state of Missouri is entering into with regards to updating and maintaining our infrastructure."

Missouri ranks about 40th in health care. How can we improve health care for Missourians?

"The best way to improve health care for Missourians is to study surrounding states of similar backgrounds, to determine what it is they are doing to better-serve their citizens, and how to help provide for the health care that is currently not being seen in rural Missouri.

"Taking a look at the accessibility of health care providers, including not only physical health but mental health and dentistry, could help ensure a better ranking among the nation for our health care."

Missouri has the lowest tobacco tax in the nation. It is about 1/10 the national average. Should the state increase the tobacco tax? Why or why not?

"I have no desire to increase taxes of any kind without first having a plan on what those taxes are going to do to in order to improve the lives of the Missouri citizenry.

"Without knowing where those taxes are going, and what an increase in those taxes is going to do to the current sales, which will affect the taxes being collected and used, I cannot agree to an increase in the tobacco tax or any other tax."

Lawmakers in recent years have cut income and corporate taxes. Why do you think that was/was not a good idea?

"While it is important for Missouri citizens to maintain as much of their income as possible, it is also necessary to ensure that we have sufficient funding for our infrastructure, education, and other items that we have come to expect our government and state to provide for us.

"My concern with cutting taxes at any level is the concern with ensuring that we are still able to provide for the citizens of Missouri."

What other issues are important to you? Why?

"One of the biggest issues to me is ensuring that we are providing for those who provide for us.

"Our teachers, fire fighters, police officers, EMTs, and state workers provide crucial services to the citizenry, many of who do not see wages that are comparable to surrounding states.

"In order to maintain quality in these areas that we depend upon heavily, it is necessary to ensure that we are being competitive among the nation in order to ensure that we are maintaining those with the credentials that we want and to continue moving Missouri forward."

 

Randy Dinwiddie is a small business owner who has lived in the Mid-Missouri area for 44 years.

"I have been in the marketing , advertising and insurance business for years," he said.

His website is amerishop.biz.

He has a reporting exemption with the Ethics Commission, promising not to raise or spend more than $500 for the campaign, so he isn't required to file detailed campaign reports.

Why are you seeking this seat?

"I am seeking this seat to be a representative to the people of district 59. For years this district has had no leadership and our towns dry on the vine. We need a troubleshooter and leader like myself to negotiate for the changes and job development that our towns need."

What is the most important issue in this election?

"1. Teach people to buy American made and shop local for job support.

"2. Economic development for our state.

"3. Clean the Capitol from the corruption that swims the halls. Put a stop-loss control on lobbyists that control our voted officials. Put our candidates to work for the voter first!

"Right now, it is lobbyists and special interest groups first — then the need of the people last."

How might the state pay for much-needed infrastructure improvements?

"Use tax dollars to lend money to secure business owners that can provide jobs to Missourians.

"Use the interest money on those loans to help pay for infrastructure and lower residents' taxes.

"(My) full plan (will be) available later."

Missouri ranks about 40th in health care. How can we improve health care for Missourians?

"Health care is a hussle. The government has been using health care as a money-developing fundraiser for years.

"The key to quality health care is the doctor teaching prevention techniques, and stop pushing pills on people, and voodoo testings, to bring the medical bill count up.

"Doctors MUST provide patients with prevention techniques so that patients can make better decisions."

Missouri has the lowest tobacco tax in the nation. It is about 1/10 the national average. Should the state increase the tobacco tax? Why or why not?

"CIGARETTES KILL PEOPLE.

"This drug that people smoke is one of the main reasons our health care is so high.

"This habit is extremely addictive and irresponsible on top of it.

"This habit should be taxed at the HIGHEST rate.

"We cannot continue to enable people to make bad health choices at the expense of everyone else."

Lawmakers in recent years have cut income and corporate taxes. Why do you think that was/was not a good idea?

"They have cut these taxes because they cannot afford to lose any residents or job providers.

"Would it be great if our representatives jumped on a phone to develop our small towns by bringing in new jobs, and helping the people that voted them into office instead of helping those that funded their campaign?

"I THINK SO!"

What other issues are important to you? Why?

"ETHICS in the Capitol. Control lobbyists' intervention.

"Less laws!

"Campaign finance reform.

"(And a) state marketing campaign to draw in new business."

 

 Rik Combs moved to Jefferson City nearly a decade ago.

"I retired after over 20 years in the U.S. Air Force in 2006, and relocated to Gainesville, Florida, where I served as CEO for a consulting company for three years," Combs said. "After meeting my wife, Jill (a veterinarian at Westside Veterinary Clinic) — who is a Jefferson City native — I relocated to the Jefferson City area in 2009 and have been very involved with the community since then."

He offered a long list of organizations he's been active in, including the VFW, American Legion, Air Force Association, United Sportsmen's Club, Eagles, Rotary, United Way, Safety Net, Vitae Foundation, Pregnancy Help Center, Samaritan Center, Hunting for Heroes, Operation Bugle Boy, NRA, Gun Owners of America, Wreaths for Heroes, Wardsville Lions Club, Toys for Tots and the Cole County Parks Committee.

As for politics, he said: "I have been involved in politics my entire life.

"I was active in Florida campaigns until moving to Missouri.

"I've been active in the Cole County Republican Club for nine years and served on the Cole County Republican Central Committee for two terms.

"I was the Cole County Campaign Director for Ron Paul in 2012."

His website is combsformissouri.com and his Facebook page is CombsforMissouri.

He has not yet filed any reports with the Ethics Commission.

Why are you seeking this seat?

"Missouri, and the U.S. for that matter, is at a crossroads politically.

"With all the turmoil, the people of the 59th District and Missouri need reliable leadership to navigate the difficult times facing us.

"I have a long track record of defending the rights of others and fighting for those who cannot fight for themselves.

"It would be an honor for the people of the district to allow me to fight for their rights, liberties, and a better future for their children and grandchildren. I stand ready to hold the government accountable and work tirelessly to improve our fine state."

What is the most important issue in this election?

"While there are many pressing issues, I believe over-taxation of Missourians is our top issue.

"The government must be held accountable and live within its means — much as Missouri families and businesses must live within their means.

"Tax relief for Missourians will unleash their potential and heighten a new era of growth and economic progress."

How might the state pay for much-needed infrastructure improvements?

"Many means and methods have been discussed for infrastructure improvements.

"Voters have tended to disapprove of tax initiatives and the general feeling about toll roads is negative. If the current proposed gas tax isn't approved, perhaps a fee on vehicle registrations would assist.

"However, more importantly, if the revenue intended for roads and bridges isn't closely guarded or protected, it can easily be diverted to the general fund and/or used for projects other than the intended roads and bridges we so desperately need repaired."

Missouri ranks about 40th in health care. How can we improve health care for Missourians?

"First and foremost, the government should have a minimal role in health care.

"Many of the issues with health care, both state and nationwide, are due to excessive influence and control by the government, almost to the exclusion of the free market.

"After speaking with many health care professionals, I am convinced the health care industry is clearly over-regulated by the government.

"Many new models of local health care are emerging which don't involve the government, but rely on local, private providers utilizing patient-provider agreements."

Missouri has the lowest tobacco tax in the nation. It is about 1/10 the national average. Should the state increase the tobacco tax? Why or why not?

"I don't personally use tobacco and never have; however, I'm opposed to increasing the tobacco tax.

"As a deterrent for tobacco use, educational programs and risk awareness have proven more effective than raising taxes on tobacco products.

"The other issue would clearly focus on the government's use of any tax revenue increase on tobacco.

"Would the new revenue stream go into health care, tobacco awareness or other programs or would the new money go into the general fund and be spent on unrelated projects, etc.?"

Lawmakers in recent years have cut income and corporate taxes. Why do you think that was/was not a good idea?

"I fully believe in the ability of Missouri's citizens and small business owners to better and more wisely spend their money than the government.

"I concur with attempts to reign in taxation of Missouri's citizens and allow them the opportunity to save what they earn, or spend it as they see fit (hopefully, locally and Missouri-made).

"The resulting sales taxes will return to the state as revenue anyway.

"Regressive and draconian taxes may be a great way to build government, but it's not a good way to build the state's economy.

"Missouri is lagging behind in economic growth, and we need to provide financial incentives, not more taxation."

What other issues are important to you? Why?

"I think its time we did something for our seniors, the people who built our society and supported it for a lifetime.

"Therefore, I'm proposing an exemption for senior citizens on their property taxes. This is one way to thank senior citizens for a lifetime of supporting society while also helping many seniors stay in their current homes.

"I'm also proposing we eliminate the personal property tax. It's unconscionable to me that a person buys a vehicle, pays the sales tax, and continues to receive tax bills each year on the same item.

"Even more shameful, why does Missouri tax its farmers and ranchers on farm equipment and livestock?"

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