Curt Dougherty is the incumbent Democrat in the 53rd District House seat.

Curt Dougherty, a Democrat who has for six years occupied the seat in the 53rd District in the Missouri House of Representatives, belongs to many organizations.

National Rifle Association, City of Independence Street Tax Oversight Committee and Jackson County Shrine Club among them.

But for Dougherty, there is perhaps one organization more pertinent than all others in the coming primary election in which he faces 12-year Fort Osage School Board Member Gary Thompson: Fort Osage PTA.

“I would support changes to the formula that would better address the needs of the Independence and Fort Osage school districts,” Dougherty said in a statement e-mailed to The Examiner. Dougherty did not respond to numerous attempts to reach him over the phone.

Dougherty, an Independence resident, is the father to three children and married to Susan Dougherty, who herself filed for candidacy this spring, but withdrew in May. Neither Curt nor Susan Dougherty explained why.

The education formula Curt Dougherty refers to may be found on “Vote Curt Dougherty” campaign fliers in mail boxes throughout the 53rd District. It has three points:

“More money for our classrooms/Quality teachers for our children/Empowering parents with our children’s future.”

Despite what is said by his detractors, Curt Dougherty said he is opposed to vouchers for private schools.

“I have never supported school vouchers. The bill that I supported had nothing to do with vouchers,” Curt Dougherty said in a statement. “They are against Missouri’s constitution.”

Opponents, though, have pointed to bills containing tuition tax credits supported by Dougherty, which they say also support the voucher concept.

In March of 2007, Dougherty, along with 55 Republicans and seven Democrats, voted in favor of House Bill 808, a tuition tax credit bill that would have established the Betty L. Thompson scholarship program for low-income families in urban areas. A “qualified school,” according to the bill’s language, is a public or private school (meeting specific requirements including holding a valid occupancy permit and complying with state-mandated health standards) outside the district in which the student lives. The bill was handily defeated, with 61 Democrats and 35 Republicans opposed.

Dougherty supported Sen. Victor Callahan, D-Independence, in his bill that placed the fate of seven schools in western Independence in the hands of the public, who overwhelmingly voted last November to move the schools into the Independence School District.

“I want transparency and accountability in public schools, including the cost of administering the education,” Dougherty said. “We in the community empowered taxpayers to leave a failed school district.”

Last year Dougherty sponsored House Bill 807, which, if passed, would have allowed students in unaccredited school districts the opportunity to enroll in fully accredited school districts within 30 miles of their home district. Last year the Kansas City School District, which is provisionally accredited, earned a score of three out of 14 on its annual accreditation review (the St. Louis School District became unaccredited in March 2007 after scoring four out of 14). According to the bill, the student’s parent or guardian would be responsible for transportation; taxpayers would not have to pay for busing.

“I have always opposed busing,” Curt Dougherty said. “My children were bused from Independence to Kansas City schools. I have never voted for any busing bill, and there has never been a busing bill to vote on.”

Education aside, Curt Dougherty said in a statement that, if re-elected, he would like to make health care more accessible and affordable for all Missourians. He also will continue to stand by the people of Cedar Crest in their battle vs. Lafarge North America’s mining operation. Dougherty was a proponent of the Missouri Blasting Safety Act that, among other things, imposed a cap on vibration readings taken from a seismograph. It went into effect in August of last year.

Dougherty has also sided with citizens in rural Eastern Jackson County who are opposed to annexation efforts by Independence.

“(I want) to work in this community and cities of this district to improve the lives of ordinary citizens,” Curt Dougherty said.

 

ON A SIDE NOTE -

On August 8, 2006 Curt Dougherty, who a week earlier had locked up the Democratic nomination in the 53rd District, gave a speech at the 75th annual convention of the American Association for Nude Recreation in DeAnza Springs, Calif. His speech, lasting a little more than an hour, was titled “Secrets of a State Official” and dealt with the art of lobbying.

In this campaign, Dougherty’s appearance at the convention has been brought up by his opponents. Dougherty admits he spoke at the conference, but says it’s not a big deal.

“In 2006, my office set up a speaking engagement near San Diego where my wife and I were vacationing,” he said in an email statement. “It has always been a policy in my office to accommodate any reasonable speaking request. Myself and several other local officials as well as Mr. Stony Musgrave, the famous NASA astronaut, spoke at this convention. I have spoken at many events regarding how to be better involved in the political process even if I did not agree with the views of the group.”