A three-time incumbent is being challenged by a first-timer in the race for the Missouri House of Representatives’ seat representing the 52nd District.

A three-time incumbent is being challenged by a first-timer in the race for the Missouri House of Representatives’ seat representing the 52nd District.

The district is roughly most of southeast Independence, part of Kansas City, Unity Village and a small portion of Lakewood and northern Lee’s Summit.

Gary Hisch, who earlier this year ran unsuccessfully for a spot on the Independence City Council, is challenging three-time Democratic incumbent Paul LeVota.

Hisch, a Republican, has a disadvantage in resources. According to election reports filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission LeVota has raised  $163,000 for the general election, while Hisch has raised a little more than $3,000.


Paul LeVota

LeVota, the Minority House Leader, said he is campaigning on three major issues: increasing access to affordable health care, improving job opportunities and working to lower the cost of higher education in the state.

“We have 750,000 Missourians without health insurance,” LeVota said. “That’s more than the national average: 150,000 of them are children.”

LeVota said Medicaid cuts in 2005 have hampered the state’s economy and the state needs to work together across party lines to make health care more available.

“Part of my district includes Truman Medical Center, and there has been a huge increase in people going to the emergency room there because they have no other choice of health care,” LeVota said. “We have to change that and do what other states have done and implement programs that provide better coverage.”

LeVota said the unemployment rate in the state is the highest it’s been in the last 17 years. He suggested the state invest in programs and opportunities that spur job creation.

“One of the ideas that we have is tax credits for small businesses, instead of for big businesses,” LeVota said. “Those are the people that really create the jobs. The difficulty is we have to fix the health care thing or the small businesses won’t have health care.”

With tuition rates rising throughout the state, LeVota said, reform is needed. On average, parents spend about 50 percent of their income on college tuition in the state, LeVota said, adding as an example the University of Missouri-Columbia has the highest tuition of all the schools in the Big 12 Conference.

“Missourians need to be able to have a future and pursue their dreams,” LeVota said.

Gary Hisch

Hisch is focused on improving schools, lowering taxes and creating jobs as well.

Hisch said his educational concerns lies within the realm of secondary education. Overcrowding in public schools has hindered the teaching and learning experience, Hisch said.

“Class size makes a big difference,” Hisch said, adding more schools are needed. “If you have overcrowding in school, it’s going to be a problem. Anything with over 25 people in a group and the training level goes down the hill.”

Hisch said he has no qualms with the tax breaks implemented by the current administration and suggested changing or amending those tax breaks are not a necessary thing.

“I think on a state level, the Governor (Matt Blunt) has being doing a great job and I would like to keep on keeping on.”

A retired executive with AIG-American General Insurance Company, Hisch gave an example of how his business acumen would help attract businesses to the 52nd District.

“A few years ago AIG came into the Johnson County area and built an office that employed about 600 people,” Hisch said. “Why didn’t we in Jackson County look at that and bid on that? That would have been a great place for us.”

Hisch said he has used a “straight-arrow” approach to life and it transcends his campaigning. In door to door canvasses, Hisch said he has gotten positive feedback because of his ability to tell the truth, no matter the circumstance.

“I’m a straight-shooter,” Hisch said. “If I’m elected, they can count on me as answering to all people, businesses, and laborers rich or poor. I’m hardworking and honest and I’ll have an ear for them.”