• Election Q&A – Missouri 6th Congressional District: Sam Graves and Kyle Yarber

  • Incumbent Congressman Sam Graves, a Republican, faces Democrat Kyle Yarber in Tuesday’s election. Libertarian Russ Monchil also is running, however, he did not respond to requests for an interview or questionnaire answers. The Examiner asked each about issues facing the 6th District, a geographically huge district that includes a part of Eastern Jackson County.

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  • Incumbent Congressman Sam Graves, a Republican, faces Democrat Kyle Yarber in Tuesday’s election. Libertarian Russ Monchil also is running, however, he did not respond to requests for an interview or questionnaire answers. The Examiner asked each about issues facing the 6th District, a geographically huge district that includes a part of Eastern Jackson County.
    1. What will be the challenges of representing a 6th District that is now larger and more diverse, and how do you plan to deal with those challenges?
    GRAVES: This question has come up a lot this campaign cycle. Honestly, it’s really more of an honor than a challenge. The new 6th District will run from Kansas City to Hannibal, it consists of a third of all the counties in Missouri and it’s bigger then 12 states. The new areas are very much like the current district – good people, a strong agricultural base, a great collection of small businesses and a focus on hard work and family values. In regards to how we plan on dealing with the large district, we’ll keep doing what we always do, which is listening to the people of the 6th district.
    YARBER: The district is in fact geographically larger than other entire states. And it does take extraordinary efforts to cover that much territory. I am approaching 60,000 miles in total on vehicles since getting into this race.
    But that’s the duty one takes on when stepping up to be a representative. I’ve walked 140 towns in northern Missouri, talking with people where they live and work, seeing firsthand conditions affecting them. Buckner faces problems like other similarly sized towns in the district like Monroe City or Plattsburg, where I lived and was a teacher for several years. Blue Springs in many ways is like Gladstone, where I currently live and serve on the planning commission. But each place is unique in ways that can’t be read in a report or seen flying over.
    2. What are the major issues for the election in your district, especially as they pertain to the part of your district in Jackson County?
    YARBER: The Jackson County part of the Sixth District stands as a pretty good microcosm of the whole district. The population is split between those in small towns and rural areas and those in the suburbs of Kansas City.
    Issues I’ve focused on – the future of agriculture and small business, the future of energy and its impact on farming and transportation, the future of our public education system, our rising national debt, and the need to keep our promises to our seniors and veterans – are issues we face throughout the district, and throughout the country.
    My daughter is nine months old. Actions we take today will determine what we as a nation become in the 21st century. Will the country we leave behind be our greatest gift to our children and grandchildren, or will we leave a burdensome, unfinished mess for them to clean up?
    Page 2 of 3 - GRAVES: Job creation is one of my top priorities. As Chairman of the House Small Business Committee, I have fought against government red tape that kills small businesses and stifles job growth. America’s small businesses create 70 percent of all new jobs. The federal government does not exist to create jobs. In fact, every new job it does “create” is paid for by American taxpayers. What Washington should be doing is cutting taxes and limiting harmful regulations. If that happens, businesses – especially small businesses in Jackson County – will once again begin to expand, hire and thrive.
    3. What are the ways you can help boost the economy and provide jobs in the 6th District?
    GRAVES: Instead of unleashing the vast potential of small businesses, the federal government has weighed them down with red tape, mandates, taxes and uncertainty. Don’t overlook the consequences of uncertainty. Owners of small firms have testified over and over before the House Small Business Committee that they need certainty to plan and make long-term decisions. They need to know what tax rates and regulatory costs will be. Without that certainty, they are far less likely to invest in equipment or hire new people. Without reasonable certainty, they are far less likely to make a bold risks that might lead to a booming business.
    YARBER: When my great, great, great grandparents moved from North Carolina to Missouri in the 1840s, like many others, they came seeking better opportunities. But we are losing too many of our best educated young people these days because of the opportunities now lacking in northern Missouri.
    The greatest number of new jobs are created when new businesses are started, (but) 2010, the last year we have numbers for, was the worst year for new business start-ups since the Great Depression. The Chair of the House Small Business Committee, our representative, should stop blocking programs that would help new small businesses, whether in retail, service, or manufacturing, get started, especially the locally owned ones at which the money spent remains and recirculates in the community, strengthening our local economies.
    There are other areas where we should be doing more:
    Agriculture is the single-most important industry in northern Missouri, and with the average age of our farmers getting older, we must help the young people who want to get into agriculture get started, especially those utilizing new research and techniques, and niche producers finding new markets around the world open to them.
    And, because of circumstances unique to northern Missouri, we should be moving to become an international leader in the areas of telecommunications, data storage, biotechnology, and, perhaps more important for the future of our region and nation, energy production.
    Commit to these fields, and northern Missouri will again be a place of opportunities where people will want to move to, work, build, create, and raise families.
    Page 3 of 3 - 4. What makes you a better representative for Jackson County in Washington, D.C., than your opponents?
    YARBER: I have lived and taught school in rural, suburban, and inner-city areas of Missouri. From firsthand experience I know that there are more similarities than differences in the needs of people in different places.
    Also, as a teacher, I am certified by the state of Missouri in seven content areas. Why would this make be a better representative? The fact that I can teach science, history, business, health, civics as well as other subjects minimizes my reliance on biased experts to understand issues and consequences that laws would affect. I have, without the help of special interests or lobbyists, a pretty good understanding, for example, of energy production, resource extraction, technology and research, human reproduction, disease control, market economics, management and labor practices, and the powers and limitations of the federal government as established by the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court rulings. This is why, in part, the Kansas City Star, in their Oct. 19 endorsement, stated that I “would bring an open, well-educated mind to Washington.”
    Basically, there are two approaches to governing. One is top down, applying a national political party’s platform as the one-size-fits-all solution to the problems and needs in a particular district. My opponent demonstrates his belief in this method, voting with his party 98.1 percent of the time.
    I, on the other hand, first assess the problems and needs of the district, and then work to figure out how (and if) they can be addressed on the federal level. This approach has at times brought me in conflict with my own party. But serving a national political party is not my priority. My loyalty, if elected as their U.S. Representative, will be to the people of Missouri’s Sixth District, to whom I offer my service, counsel, and judgment.
    GRAVES: As a small businessman and a sixth-generation family farmer, I have spent my life working to make Missouri a better place to live, work, and raise a family. I know firsthand the values, hopes, and beliefs of the hard-working families of the Sixth District and will continue to work tirelessly for them in the United States House of Representatives.

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