Livingston County voters, as well as voters of the new 7th District House of Representatives, will go to the polls next week to cast ballots for either incumbent Mike Lair or his Democrat challenger Harry S. Wyse.
Next week's election reflects boundary changes in Missouri's 7th district. While Livingston County remains in the 7th District, the counties of Carroll, Caldwell and the tiny bit of Clinton County, which had been in the 7th district are now in other districts. The new 7th district boundary consists of Livingston and Grundy counties, as well as a large portion of Linn County.
Livingston County has been represented by a Republican in the House since 1987, when Republican Dale Whiteside was elected in a special election, after Democrat Steve Danner resigned the post to take the administrative position as a law judge.
The Constitution-Tribune asked candidates to provide biographical information about themselves as well as a candidate statement outlining their reasons for seeking the office of state representatives. The candidates also addressed questions concerning the size of government, education, small business and economic development. (Questions and answers on page 2 of today's newspaper).
The C-T is providing pre-election coverage this week by publishing profiles of candidates seeking the offices of Livingston County public administrator, 7th District state representative, 21st District state senate, and 6th District U.S. representative. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.
HARRY S. WYSE
HOME: Cherry St. Chillicothe
POLITICAL PARTY: Democrat.
EDUCATION: GED, School of Life.
OCCUPATION: Business owner/retired from Ford's Claycomo Plant
FAMILY: Widower (Sharon); Children: Brenda, Laura, Stephen, Glenda, Elizabeth and grandchildren
Candidate statement by Harry S. Wyse
As a small businessman, I understand the challenges facing our economy and have a plan for getting things moving. I'm frustrated by out-of-control partisanship that ruined last year's special session called to pass a "Jobs Bill," at great expense to taxpayers. Chairman Lair's Republican House refused to pass the Republican Senate "Jobs Bill" because they were afraid that Governor Nixon (D) would get credit for job growth this election. It is wrong for Mike Lair to put politics over jobs.
Job creation is my highest priority. My first economic development act will be a tax credit to re-hire laid off manufacturing workers. As a grand-father and as a businessman, I understand how important our commitment to public education is and how our future is directly linked to quality education. We have to expand Parents as Teachers and make sure that every child reads well by the third grade. The amazing growth of independent learning after that age gives those that read well a real opportunity at the American Dream. Last year, I was honored with the Jerry Litton Democratic Leadership Award and I'm very proud of that achievement. Jerry Litton, Harry S. Truman and Mel Carnahan are the type of leaders that inspired me to serve my community, and it is my hope that my service as your state representative will honor their legacies and build a stronger Missouri, not only for my grand-children, but for all Missouri families. Please vote for Harry Wyse next Tuesday, Nov. 6.
GOVERNMENT: At what point does state government become too big for sound fiscal management?
We need accountability in government and Mike Lair has shown by his administration of an $892,000 federal education grant that he wastes tax dollars. The Chillicothe School District had an Independent CPA audit a year of his administration of this federal education grant, finding questionable expenditures and slipshod accounting practices that wasted these education dollars. Mike Lair is the example of "too big for sound fiscal management."
SIZE OF GOVERNMENT: Are there areas of state government that should be trimmed?
We have made repeated driving without a license in someone's lifetime and certain other minor infractions that are appropriately misdemeanors turn into felonies. Gun control radicals will use any ploy to take the gun rights away from working class citizens and forgetting your license four times in your life should not turn you into a felon! As for Expanding Government – I'm for expanding early childhood education, parents as teachers, etc. – If a child can read, the world is open for them to seize life's opportunities, and I want every child to read well by no later than the third grade.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: What is the best way to attract and retain business, and how would you propose accomplishing that goal?
An educated workforce and friendly local and state government all combine to make our area attractive to industry. I'm on the Chillicothe Airport Board, and we are working to lengthen the runway to accommodate small jets and provide one more reason to do business in North Central Missouri.
Education: Do you feel changes need to be made to the way education is funded? Please explain your response.
I am concerned about the reliance on property taxes. I'd support a greater state funding role in order to reduce the reliance on local property taxes. At present, the method in implementing this desire requires additional research. I'd also work to fully fund the foundation formula that is dramatically underfunded by Chairman Lair's legislature today.
SMALL BUSINESS: Is there any legislation that should be passed or repealed to promote a more favorable small business climate?
As a small business owner, we are responsible for collecting state sales taxes and paying them to the state. The system needs a small change so that small businesses are fairly compensated for the service we provide to the state. I'm also opposed to AMENDMENT 3, as it is bad for small business. Small business needs fair courts to honestly enforce contracts and fairly apply the law. When judges become political pawns, the rule of law becomes secondary to political allegiances. I support Missouri's Non-Partisan Court plan, which has used a merit-based selection system for over 70 years. Going from merit-based to political appointments is another of Mike Lair's wrong directions for our courts. The merit system works for Missouri.
HOME: LIV 243, Chillicothe
POLITICAL PARTY: Republican.
EDUCATION: Creighton Prep Jesuit H.S., Omaha, Neb.,1970 bachelor of science degree (history), University of Nebraska at Omaha; 2003 master of science (education), Central Methodist University
OCCUPATION: General Assembly, 7th House District representative, retired teacher/coach of 38 years
FAMILY: Wife, Jeanne; daughter, Jillian Harris; son, Trevor; granddaughter, Margaux Harris.
Candidate statement by Mike Lair
I ran for the Missouri House of Representatives in 2008 to reaffirm what I had taught in social studies classes for years. Public service is a high calling and should be a citizen's way of repaying all of the blessings that we as Americans enjoy. My work ethic and common sense were built on a work history of over fifty years and were put to use every day in the House. My special expertise is in education; I am the Education Appropriations Committee Chairman and the Joint House/Senate Education Committee Vice-chairman. My other committee work has been on Retirement that oversees all public retirement systems, Budget, Rules, and Judicial Reform. I am a fiscal conservative who believes that government needs to learn to live within its means, and part of the task of state government is to protect its citizens from unfair federal intrusion. I am Pro-Life. I have been endorsed by the NRA, National Federation of Independent Business, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, twice received Missouri Farm Bureau's Friend of Agriculture Award, and Freshman Legislator of the Year recognition from the Speaker of the House for my work in education. I am a member of St. Columban Roman Catholic Church, Missouri Farm Bureau, Chillicothe Area Chamber of Commerce, DU, Life-NRA, and NRA-Institute for Legislative Action. I take my oath of office to uphold and defend the Constitutions of the United States and Missouri literally. I am having the time of my life… I love it.
Government: At what point does state government become too big for sound fiscal management?
When state government begins to inhibit personal and businesses choices by its taxation, it is too big. There is no magic number of state employees or amount of general revenue that I can point to and say it is too big; but I can identify Illinois and California as examples of states that have been fiscally irresponsible. These states, as well as others, succumb to the boom and bust fiscal policy - they expand state government during years of plenty and try to shrink it during tough economic years. State government needs to provide for transportation infrastructure, domestic tranquility, public education, and a reasonable amount of oversight; anything beyond that fits into the realm of big government. We in Missouri are lucky, because constitutionally, we cannot spend more than we bring in by taxation – we must pass a balanced budget.
Size of Government: Are there areas of state government that should be trimmed? Are there areas of state government that should be expanded? Please explain your answers.
There are three branches of state government - the executive, the judicial, and the legislative. The judicial and legislative cut their total budgets significantly during the current fiscal crisis. The judiciary voluntarily cut their own budget request this year; we in the House cut our office budgets by 12 percent, and refused raises that were suggested by the Governor's commission. By far the largest branch is the executive; within this branch, there are some departments that shrunk by as much as 15 percent. MoDOT took the lead by closing less essential facilities and cutting their workforce by attrition. Government agencies and programs have a natural tendency to expand without any expansion in services. Ronald Reagan said the closest thing to eternal life on earth is a government program. We need to cull unnecessary programs and fight expansion and waste. We are a limited government and less is better.
Economic Development: What is the best way to attract and retain business, and how would you propose accomplishing this goal?
We must look to the long term… not the quick fix. We must create a "business-friendly environment" in our state. To do that, we must cut government interference to the absolute minimum. We passed three bills that will go into law next January that will require regular review of regulatory rules, many of which have outlasted their express purpose. As a result, large and small businesses will benefit with reduced governmental red tape. We need to be certain that our tax structure does not discourage ownership and expansion. Our education system must supply a skill-ready workforce that can attract perspective employers — GRTS and NCMC are striving toward that goal. As with many facets of the economy, the best thing government can do is get out of the way and let the American entrepreneurial knowhow and spirit do what it does best – create wealth and jobs.
Education: Do you feel changes need to be made to the way education is funded? Please explain your response.
We are mandated by the Missouri Constitution to spend at least twenty-five percent of state funds on education. We spend well over thirty percent. For K-12 schools, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education distributes funds to the 522 school districts, according to the Foundation Formula. The formula is skewed toward the urban schools. St. Louis and Kansas City spend almost twice as much per student as we do in rural Missouri, and both of those districts are currently unaccredited by DESE. The rural work ethic of our teachers and administrators must be commended, but with costs always rising, we must find methods of reconfiguring the formula to be consistently fair to ALL Missouri students. The Joint House/Senate Education Committee, upon which I serve as vice-chair, will begin work on a new K-12 formula after our Higher Education Formula recommendation goes to the General Assembly in January.
Small Business: Is there any legislation that should be passed or repealed to promote a more favorable small business climate?
The attention of the Legislature for the past several years has been on small businesses, as they are the true job-generators in our state's economy. Tax structure, removal of unnecessary government intrusion (red tape), and a work-ready and educated work force will create the environment small businesses need to succeed.
We have tried for two sessions to reform workers' compensation laws, second-injury fund disbursement, true reform to the tax credit system, and small business incubators that are located in St. Louis, Kansas City, St. Joseph, and the University of Missouri-Columbia. The workers' compensation and the second-injury legislation have died in the Senate and by the Governor's veto pen. The incubators were partially funded last year, and should begin paying dividends soon. A complete overhaul of tax credits is the focus of an interim committee.