They came, and they stumped. Some facing long odds, some with no opponent at all. They took to the microphone, looked out into the late afternoon sun and spoke their piece on taxes, schools, jobs, crime, the role of government, leadership, the Constitution.
They all want your vote.
Seventeen candidates gathered Thursday afternoon for a come-one, come-all event on the lawn outside the Independence Chamber of Commerce office just off the Square.
“Let’s get out the vote!” exhorted one, Mark S. Memoly, who’s running for Congress.
A sampling of each:
• Raymond Wilson, a Republican from Independence, is running in the 3rd District, which covers Sugar Creek and Independence north of Interstate 70. He and Constitution Party candidate Richard McKie of Independence face Democratic incumbent Dennis Waits of Independence in November. All are unopposed in next Tuesday’s primary.
“Basically I’m a Republican – mainstream – with some libertarian leanings,” Wilson said. He said key issues are integrity and respect, and he favors limited government.
“I’m a political novice, but I’m not a management novice,” he said.
• McKie, a retired letter carrier, said, “An elected official should be a servant of the people. He should follow the Constitution and listen to God.”
He also favors limited government.
“Our country and county cannot fund everything,” he said.
• Sherwood Smith of Kansas City is running in Tuesday’s Democratic primary in the 1st District at-large. That district includes Independence, Blue Springs, Grain Valley and the northeastern parts of the county as well as parts of Kansas City, but all county voters vote in at large races. It’s an open seat; Legislator Theresa Garza-Ruiz is leaving after two terms.
Smith is running against former Kansas City Royals player Frank White, and he said “there’s two good guys running for office” but he would be the only one about to hit the ground running.
“I can say, in the race I’m in, there’s only one candidate who’s passed legislation on the city level, the county level and the state level,” he said.
He’s a 36-year Kansas City firefighter and is the political director of Local 42 of the International Association of Fire Fighters.
“That has given me the opportunity to be immersed in policy issues, legislation issues, negotiation issues, political issues,” he said.
On the Republican side, Weldon Woodward of Levasy is running as what he calls a “Truman Republican.”
He wants to get rid of the county’s personal property tax, which is mainly levied on vehicles and boats, and replace it with a temporary one-eighth-cent sales that can be dropped once economic growth picks up.
He’s focusing on a simple, grass-roots campaign.
“I do not have a campaign fund. I did that on purpose,” he said.
• Tony Miller, a Democrat, is the only candidate running for the 3rd District at-large seating being vacated by Legislator Fred Arbanas, who is retiring. The district is roughly the southern one-third of the county.
Miller, of Lee’s Summit, is an attorney with offices in the River Market but stressed that Eastern Jackson County is home.
“I look forward to being accessible,” he said.
• Sterling Brown of Raytown is one of three Democrats running for an open seat in the 2nd District, which includes Raytown plus the central, east and south parts of Kansas City. He said the political conversation between the people and elected officials, particularly in the urban core, “is broken.”
People need information and access, he said.
“Dialogue is the pure and absolute foundation ... of building consensus,” he said.
• Brice Stewart of Independence is a Republican running for county executive against Democrat Mike Sanders, of Independence, seeking a third four-year term. He works in the county’s information technology program and say he sees waste. He gave Sanders credit for cutting the county budget and not raising taxes during the recession but said Sanders and his administration “have still wasted millions.” Stewart wants to cut taxes and have a smaller, less intrusive government.
He noted that Sanders has raised a lot of money considering that it’s a local race and questioned whether Sanders will run for higher office or stick around for the long haul. He conceded, “This is going to be a tough election for me.”
Missouri House of Representatives
• John Mayfield, a Democrat from Independence, is running for a second two-year term in the 20th District, which runs from Sugar Creek to Buckner and includes much of northern and eastern Independence.
“I think we all have the same concerns. The first is jobs,” he said, adding that he favors tax breaks for small business.
“Education’s the biggest economic development tool we have. ... We’re really behind in this country in science and technology and engineering and mathematics,” he said.
• Bill E. Kidd of Independence is one of two Republicans hoping to unseat Mayfield. He said he’s distressed that one-third of the single mothers in the 20th District are in poverty and at the number of empty homes he sees. “That’s a family that doesn’t have a home anymore,” he said.
“It’s not about party,” he added. “It’s not about politics. It’s about people.”
• Winston Apple of Independence is running against John B. Sutton in the 29th District Democratic primary on Tuesday, and the winner faces incumbent Republican Noel Torpey, seeking a third term, in November. The district covers central Independence and parts of east Kansas City.
Apple said he’s been a worker and business person and understands we all want two things – low prices as consumers but good profits as businesses.
“Our society and our economy succeed when we have a delicate balance between these competing interests,” he said.
Just as World War II created the jobs that pulled the country out of the Great Depression, a full-out effort against what he called the existential threat of global warming could create jobs and prosperity today.
He criticized the General Assembly for cutting income taxes while putting a large sales tax, for transportation, on Tuesday’s ballot. He favors excise taxes instead of sales taxes and slight increases in the income tax.
“Let’s declare a permanent sales tax holiday on everything,” he said.
• Democrat Ira Anders, unopposed for a third term in the House, from the 21st District in north and east Independence.
“I make no apologies at all: My main emphasis in Jefferson City is on education,” he said.
He said he wanted to borrow a line from Charlie Shields, the former state senator and now CEO of Truman Medical Centers, who spoke in Independence a couple of weeks ago. The best indicator of health is wealth, Shields said, and the best indicator of wealth is education.
Issues: Expand Medicaid? Do it, Anders said. Term limits? He voted for the idea. “Now I see that’s not right.” And, to a smattering of applause, he said large, unregulated amounts of money in state races has to be ended. “That can’t be anything but influence peddling,” he said.
• Bob Gough, a Democrat, is among four Democrats and four Republicans hoping to unseat five-term Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, D-Kansas City, in the 5th District, which covers Kansas City and much of Eastern Jackson County. Five of those candidates spoke Thursday.
Gough said Congress needs a “fresh spirit” and stressed the federal government’s doubling of debt in 10 years and “the fiscal disaster our country is in.”
“The Affordable Care Act is going to be a disaster for this country,” he said. “Congressman Cleaver was a cheerleader for it.”
• Democrat Mark S. Memoly said, “Our representation on important committees in Congress is lacking.”
He listed four themes: A “culture of fun focused on improving our quality of life,” high-speed rail, renewable energy, and “ideas that help every family,” such a tax deductions for health insurance.
• Democrat Eric Holmes was with the Army in Ramadi, Iraq, at a time when that city was particularly lawless and violent. The citizens rose up, with U.S. aid, to recruit and train 4,000 young adults to police neighborhoods.
“The most dangerous place on Earth became the safest city in Iraq,” he said.
America could take note, giving young people something constructive to do.
“Bond with the local areas, and it will make a difference,” he said.
• Republican Jacob Turk, who has challenged Cleaver several times in the past, said integrity is vital and stressed two issues.
“One is, as a small business owner, I know what it’s like to be overburdened by the federal government,” he said.
Turk, a former Marine, said the country also needs to deliver on its promises to those who serve in the military.
“And I will stand up for these young soldiers,” he said, “I will stand up for veterans.”
• Republican Bill Lindsey laid out his platform: Repeal Obamacare. “There’s a problem with the math with this plan,” he said. Also, bring jobs, protect the Second Amendment, protect the unborn, help farmers.
And secure the border. Regarding the crisis of large waves of children from Central America coming across the border, he said: “This is a deception to allow terrorists and the drug cartel into our country.”
• Kyle Reid is one of three challengers to fellow Republican Sam Graves, who is seeking another term in the 6th District, which is northern Missouri plus parts of eastern Independence, western Blue Springs and parts of Lee’s Summit.
“The reason I’m running for Congress is I love this country and the opportunity it’s given me. ... I want this opportunity for my children,” he said.
He stressed the government’s separation of powers.
“It’s time that we start following the Constitution,” he said.