Three candidates – Dan O'Neill, Holmes Osborne and Robert Sauls – are on the ballot in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for the Missouri House District 21 seat.
There is no Republican candidate, so the winner on Tuesday will succeed term-limited Democrat Ira Anders and represent the district that includes much of Independence, from west of the Square, east to Susquehanna and south to almost Centerpoint Medical Center.
O'Neill is a longtime real estate broker, Osborne a financial analyst who twice ran for the Missouri House in District 53 before moving to Independence, and Sauls is a Jackson County assistant prosecutor and an Air Force assistant staff judge advocate.
Terms in the Missouri House are two years.
Polls in Missouri are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The Examiner emailed a series of questions to the candidates. There are answers follow, along with a summary of their financial reports filed this week with the Missouri Ethics Commission.
Why are you running for this office, and what are the three biggest issues facing the state of Missouri?
Robert Sauls: I was born and raised in Independence. I have lived here for most of my life and I am a fourth-generation resident of the city. We need representatives who know the law and listen to their constituents. My sister and I grew up in a one-bedroom house in Eastern Jackson County. My mom worked tirelessly as a single mother to put food on the table. She taught me to use my voice to speak up for those who didn't have one. I want to be your voice in Jefferson City. I'm running for office because this city and this state matter to me. Like you, I call this home. I have dedicated my life to public service and making a difference. I have protected this community by putting bad guys behind bars, and when I was done doing that, I put on my uniform and I defended this country.
I believe the three biggest issues facing this state are fully funding education, health care – which would include expanding Medicaid – and supporting the middle class. We have to put on our boots and pull up our bootstraps because we are in for a fight with Right to Work. I do not believe the bulk of Missourians want it, but wealthy businessmen continue to fund politicians who will vote for it every year. We deserve better than that. Let the people decide. In addition to these issues, I am very passionate about criminal justice reform. I would like to see harsher penalties for violent crime, treatment-based drug reform and actual rehabilitation in the Department of Corrections.
Holmes Osborne: Missouri is falling behind the rest of the United States. Our cities are amongst the most violent in the United States, we’ve lost many companies like Harley-Davidson, and our schools and roads need increased funding. Our leaders in Jefferson City are doing very little.
Dan O’Neill: Infrastructure, public school funding, right to work.
Do you support the state gas tax increase that will be on the November ballot?
Sauls: The gas tax is too regressive. While I understand that Missouri roads need work, and I also understand that it costs money to fix the roads, I do not support this tax. There are other better options that don't cost all of us even more money at the pump. Quite frankly, I'd rather see a toll road between St. Louis and Kansas City that is stationed about 30 miles outside of both cities. I believe this puts more of the burden on out-of-state travelers. The gas tax ensures that each of us pay more each time we fill up at the tank; a toll road between St. Louis and Kansas City would only require most of us to pay more when we travel across the state. If it is for business travel, then businesses pick up the cost; if it is for personal matters then likely it is only a couple of times a year. Paying $5 a couple of times a year is better than paying $5 every single time we fill up.
Osborne: Yes, we support the 10-cent gas tax.
What is the one single-most important thing the General Assembly could do in 2019 to improve the state's economy and improve Missouri's quality of life?
Sauls: Expand Medicaid. Nineteen out of 50 states have chosen not to expand Medicaid. It is literally free money from the federal government. Estimates show that 293,000 residents would be eligible for coverage if Missouri would simply say "We will expand Medicaid and accept the funding from the federal government." Health care is the difference between life and death for many people. It is not only the moral thing to do, but it the right thing to do based on common sense and logic. Currently adults with dependent children are only eligible for coverage if their household income doesn't exceed $381 a month for a family of three. If you make $400 a month and you are a single mom with two kids, you are ineligible for coverage. Only Texas has a harsher cut-off. I have worked hard my whole life. I started my college career at Metropolitan Community College. I was the first in my family to graduate from college. I put myself through college. Then I put myself through law school. I have had a job since I was 15 years old. I don't expect anyone to take care of me, and I believe others should work if they can. That being said, health care is the difference between life and death for most folks. A single mom with two kids who makes $400 a month cannot afford health care. What happens if she gets cancer? We owe it to ourselves and the residents of this community to expand Medicaid.
Osborne: The single most important thing to be done in Jefferson City is passing legislation that can improve the lives of the middle class and poor in Missouri.
O’Neill: Fix our roads and bridges.
O’Neill’s campaign has taken in $35,949 and spent $27,200.
Top contributors include:
• $2,600: Carpenters District of St. Louis Voluntary Political Fund.
• $2,600: Missouri Realtors PAC Inc., Columbia.
• $700: Donnie Allen, Joplin.
• $500: Sharon Keating, Jefferson City; Pat Tackett, Salem.
Independence Mayor Eileen Weir also contributed $50.
Sauls’ campaign has taken in $24,705 and has spent $22,377.
Top contributors include:
• $1,500: Safer Families for MO, Jefferson City.
• $1,000: Dollar Burns & Beckner, Kansas City; Baldwin & Vernon, Kansas City; Norma Neill, Independence; International Association of Fire Fighters Local 781 PAC, Independence; Missouri NEA PAC, Jefferson City; Missouri State Council of Fire Fighters PAC, Benton; IBEW Local 53 PAC, Kansas City.
• $500: Presley & Presley, Kansas City; Boyd Kenter Thomas & Parrish LLC, Independence.
Osborne’s campaign has taken in $23,206, including $5,100 in donations to himself, and spent $13,139.
Top contributors include:
• $1,980: Patrick Morris, Irving.
• $1,018: Susan Bullig, Norborne.
• $622: NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, St. Louis.
• $500: Carpenters 777 PAC, Harrisonville.