A three-term State Representative for the 53 District faces a familiar challenge in Tuesday’s general election.

Democratic State Rep. Curt Dougherty of Independence is on the ballot against Republican challenger and fellow Independence native Brent T. Lasater, an opponent Dougherty defeated for the seat in 2006.

Dougherty said the key issue for him in this race was communicating that the state needs to stay on a sound financial course, adding when he first came to the House of Representatives in 2002, the state was heading into a huge deficit. 

“Only through cutting waste and costs, and eliminating needless programs did we avoid a crisis,” Dougherty said. “With the economy not doing so well and both candidates for governor promising new costly programs with no idea how to pay for them we will have our work cut out for us. We must know the difference between something we want and something we need.”

Lasater said the key issue for him is championing a common sense approach to government, stating that common sense and hard work should be applied to every governmental concern.

“I believe any problem can be resolved when you apply hard work and common sense,” Lasater said.

Eschewing the traditional fundraising model, Lasater said bringing awareness to his candidacy was perhaps the most challenging aspect on the campaign trail. Lasater claimed an exemption with the Missouri Ethics Commission, which states a candidate does not have to report contributions totaling less than $500

“The most challenging thing with this election,” he said “is finding creative ways to get my message out with limited funds since I do not take donations.”

Dougherty, who claimed on a late contribution report with the Ethics Commission that he received contributions close to $19,000 on Oct. 28 alone, said his biggest challenge during the campaign was not getting caught up in campaign hype.

“This being a presidential election year it so easy to be caught up in the hype,” Dougherty said. “You compete for people’s time, and your message can get lost in all of the other things that are going on. The negative campaigning by others starts to wear on us all.”

Asked what is good about today’s state government and what, if anything, would he like to change, Dougherty said: “our state has made many good changes. We have cut costs and vastly improved our road system. We have lowered some taxes and expanded health care for those in need. 

“On needed changes, we must start to overhaul our educational system. We keep dumping huge sums of money into it with little or no improvement. The United States spends more per student than any other country, yet we lag behind...”

Lasater said he would like to see a change in the way partisan politics are handled on the state level.

“The government does a fairly good job of providing many necessary services, but people are tired of politics as usual,” Lasater said. “I would like to see a spirit of teamwork and accountability instead of partisanship and blame.”

On a national scale, both candidates said that this year’s Presidential Election will help shape the future of America.

“When a new president enters into the office there is always going to be an impact on the course of America,” Lasater said. “Sometimes this is not realized until further down the road.”

Said Dougherty: “this has been a historic political year, with Senator (Hillary) Clinton’s campaign, and then Senator (Barack) Obama’s nomination and then with (Alaska) Governor (Sarah) Palin on the Republican ticket. No matter who wins, our country will move forward. Future generations will read about this election in history books. This has been long overdue. We will hopefully now look at the person, the qualifications and not gender or race.”