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Interview with Republican 50th House District candidate James Musgraves


The Republican candidate for Boone County's 50th House District believes political realities will override demographic changes in the district.

The 50th District was redrawn this year to include more of Democrat-friendly Columbia and none of the more conservative Boone County. The seat is now held by Republican Sara Walsh of Ashland.

James Musgraves, who hoped to inherit the district from fellow Republican Walsh, says he's aware that demographics might affect the race. However, economic realities such as inflation and other issues will help turn those voters his way, Musgraves told ABC 17 News.

Marissa Hollowed: Let's start off by having you tell viewers just a little bit about yourself.

James Musgraves: Okay, well, I'm born and raised in Missouri and grew up in North County, St. Louis, or North St. Louis County, joined the Navy right out of high school, enlisted and right out of high school, went out to California. It's where I met my wife and I applied for an ROTC scholarship, got it, and came back home to Missouri, went to University of Missouri got my bachelor's degree where I was also commissioned as an officer, the Navy, got selected for flight training, went down to Pensacola, flew helicopters for 24 years. And I retired March of 2018. Still married to the same perfect woman, for a little over 34 years. I have two sons. One is 33. He's in the Navy. And I have a 30-year-old that's managing a large retail store here in Colombia, and a brand new granddaughter who's just a hair over 2 months old now.

Marissa: How will the new shape of the 50th District affect this race?

Musgraves: Well, I think it definitely was redrawn, and it favors the Democrats. I do, however, think that that's a generic polling. I do think the environment that we're in historically, historic inflation, historic cost of living, historic gas prices, that changes the landscape politically a little bit for everybody, regardless of what party you may or may not affiliate with. So I think it's going to be a challenging election for sure. Knocking on doors and talking to people is what it's going to take. Signs, as you and I were talking about earlier, and getting the word out what you want to do and where you want to go and how you can help the people of District 50.

Hollowed: How can you prioritize infrastructure and cut taxes?

Musgraves: That's a great question. And the example that I like to use as I look at the high-speed rail to nowhere in California. Okay, it's been going on for a really long time. We have spent billions of federal tax dollars, that's yours ... Why can't the government, the federal government, give us some of our revenue back to take care of I-70. For example, there's ... I might get the numbers a little bit mixed up ... 40% of Missouri's population lives within 30 miles of I-7, 45 or 50% of the businesses in the state of Missouri are within 30 miles of I-70. I-70 is like the carotid artery for the supply system nationally, not just for the state of Missouri. But that's just one example. It's called budgeting for a reason. Right? We have a mandatory balanced budget here in Missouri. ... The federal government does not budget, they have spending plans. They don't have budgets, we budget. So that's what we'll have to do to prioritize infrastructure.

Hollowed: Your website says, and I'm going to quote you here, "our children should be taught how to think not what to think." Explain to me what you mean by that.

Musgraves: I think we need to get back to the basics of education, reading, writing, and math, science, things of that nature. I think we've been distracted with a lot of woke ideologies and woke agendas, infiltrating our public schools. That's not helping us in the future. ... I was talking to some folks the other day, I named off all my elementary school teachers. And I can do it for you, too. But we only got 5 minutes, right? But the reason I don't, it's not that I have some magical way to memorize teachers' names. And so they had a very positive and profound impact on my life. But I'll tell you, I couldn't tell you if they were married or single, I didn't know what their political persuasion was. I didn't know who they voted for back in the '70s and '80s. They were there to teach me how to read, write, the capital cities of all the states, how to learn how to write in cursive, back to the basics of education. That's how to think, not what to think. That's where we need to go.

Hollowed: Do you support more state spending for Missouri schools?

Musgraves: Right now the budget for, I just read this, about $7.47 billion, what the state spends on education, the formula they use, and you'll hear a lot of people talking about that. If I remember correctly, it originated in 2005. We need to revisit that formula. I'm not saying we need to, we may need to add some spending, we may need to shift spending from one area to another but we need to revisit that formula they use to disperse the $7.5 billion. And then once we do that, we figure out where the money should go, where it should be, where it's needed most considering all types of students throughout, then we can revisit whether or not we need to increase spending. I think education, our children are the future of our great republic and you're not gonna hear me say no to spending for teaching them. How to think, not what to think.

Hollowed: How do you think your military experience could help you in the legislature?

Musgraves: Well ... I went from an E-1 and retired as a full commander. So I've been on both sides of the fence. And during the course of that, you learn a lot about leadership and management. I had the experience of building small teams, large teams, and successfully employing them to accomplish a number of tasks. My last tour, I was overseas, I was the executive officer of a base. I had over a $100 million budget and 2,500 people. I think the leadership and management skills, the experience a life experience. So help me get down to Jeff City, lead, manage, understand, not be tentative about talking to other people and trying to ... accomplish tasks for the people of District 50.

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ABC 17 News Team


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