Residence: Jefferson City
Occupation: Data collection and analysis contractor for USDA
Education: Studied at Missouri State University
Previous political experience: Ward 3 committeeman and chair of the Cole County Democratic Central Committee; ran Sara Michael's 2018 campaign for the 60th District and Gayin Rich Carver's successful bid for Jefferson City Prosecuting Attorney
What is your position on Amendment 3, which would roll back parts of the Clean Missouri amendment voters approved in 2018?
Amendment 3 is basically, to me it shows that the state legislature doesn't have any faith in the government, in the constituents. The big arguments they have is that either we don't know what we voted for, or that it was properly vetted by the state legislature, but none of the candidates were vetted by the state legislature before the voters voted on it. So it's kind of disingenuous to me to say that it needs to be vetted by the state legislature before. "We can't trust the voters to vote on this issue but we can trust them to vote for us."
And the second thing is that you have to see in the ballot language, it got contested twice in court, and both times the state of Missouri lost because they were trying to trick voters into not realizing that they were changing the voter-approved redrawing of districts from a nonpartisan demographer whose job is to make fair and balanced districts taking into account stuff as community and everything. That's what they do. That's what demographics is. And do it by a partisan board, a partisan board selected by the governor. And they tell you that if the auditor selects a demographer, but she selects three candidates, and that is approved then by another board. So to say that Nicole Galloway is just choosing a demographer that will draw maps to suit Democrats is disingenuous as well. Their whole campaign is based on disingenuous arguments, or just insulting the voter, (that) we don't know what we're voting for. Over 60% of Missourians voted that we wanted fair maps, we wanted fair elections. And to say that we just wanted one thing is completely false.
How will Medicaid expansion affect the 60th District?
First of all how Medicaid expansion was a truly personal issue to me. I lost my younger brother in March of last year because he couldn't afford an anti-seizure medication that would have been available... if Medicaid, it would have been expanded earlier. In my district, it's going to affect a lot in Jeff City.
You hear the phrase kind of way more in like Detroit and stuff like that but Jeff City is a company town. Our company is the state of Missouri, it is overwhelmingly, my largest employer in my district, and to end Medicaid expansion can do a couple things. Number one, it is proven to lower health care costs which will help people in Missouri, but more importantly, in every single state that has expanded Medicaid has seen an increase in revenue in their state budget.
Recently Maine, who expanded it saw an increase by over $200 million as a budget surplus in one year. So in my district, this is a step, we have to recover from COVID, and I believe Missouri has took that first step and off to August by expanding Medicaid and bringing that over $1 billion of Missouri taxpayer money that is sitting outside of our state, according to Washington University. But not only that, by lowering health care costs by allowing people to be healthy and go to the doctor when it's not a medical necessity, be able to go to the doctor when they're slightly sick, increases worker productivity ... increases local revenue, helps local businesses because people will have more money to spend if they're not worried about catastrophic medical loss.
Previously ... my opponent said that he supported health savings accounts, called them rainy day funds but it's hard to pay for a rainy day, when being sick and being in poverty is living, it's like living in the eye of a storm. State worker pay ... we are the worst state in the nation in state worker pay, we are 50 out of 50. Expanding Medicaid can be the first step in increasing our state budget, helping shortfalls and make it where the state budget raise is not the first thing the governor strikes through when he has to try to balance the budget.
Has the state done enough to fight COVID-19?
I mean, it's poor.
I said before that the challenges that we're facing from COVID-19 are symptoms of an already broken system, not the causes, and we're seeing them more now with outbreaks in rural areas that typically don't have hospitals to serve. And to go back to the previous question, without Medicaid ... because we didn't expand Medicaid so we didn't have those funds that we need. We’re seeing that the governor refused to wear a mask when he was in public and him and his wife both contracted COVID and my prayers and thoughts go out to them. I want them to 100% to be safe, but it's like I want all Missourians to be safe. But the numbers speak for themselves in my district, there was ... a nursing home with ... a little bit over 60 patients and ... over like 57 of them, I believe, contracted COVID. And these are people that are in the at-risk age, people that potentially could have underlying issues ... that will hurt them when they're trying to recover from COVID.
There is almost 2000 dead in Missouri and that's because we didn't react fast enough. We didn't require masks when we needed to. And when we shut down, it was a little bit too little too late, unfortunately, and we opened up too quickly. So we're seeing those repercussions right now. Missouri is one of the top states in COVID infection rate and Cole County, Jefferson City ... has a high percentage rate, is one of the top, I believe in the top five of the state. So we're just saying that they're not taking this seriously, they haven't taken it seriously. And we're dealing with repercussions. And I'm not sure if they're listening to ... listen to President Trump where he kind of downplayed and they kind of want to downplay it too. But you can’t downplay a pandemic. We have to take this seriously because it's taking this seriously and protecting yourself and protecting your family, protecting our communities, saves lives.
The Missouri General Assembly took up legislation to address violent crime this summer and the issue is likely to come up again. What should the General Assembly do to address the problem?
Well previously, in 2018 to 2019, the Democratic caucus asked for a special session on violent crime previously and he refused. This time it was, I don't, I don't even know if Gov. Parson really cared to pass on part of the agenda, I think it was more of a distraction to change the news cycle from his complete mishandling of the covid 19 pandemic.
The ideas that the presenting have been proven not to work -- over-policing districts do not work. Recently in Jefferson City ... a little bit over a week ago, there was a shooting at a park, two people were injured in the shooting, two people were injured trying to run away. ... They try to paint this as a St Louis and Kansas City issue and it's not, as this affects every single community in some way. I would welcome an honest attempt to stop to stop violence. And that's focused on programs that are proven to be effective, like helping, such as helping people transition out of penitentiaries with job assistance, which has proven to stop escalation and recidivism much more effectively than over-policing has stopped crime.
And the other thing I would do is try to stop fostering an us-versus-them mentality between the cities and the rural areas. You talk to multiple people, and they'll tell you. "Oh, you don't want to go to this part of the city," and that's even in Jefferson City. And it's just they have this fear, and it's based in my opinion on prejudicial statements that are presented by the governor. "You can't trust it. You can't trust people, you can't trust certain" ... and that just breeds contempt. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy in some ways where if you tell somebody that they're all they're good, all they can do is one thing that's all they know to do. We don't reach out and try to build those community bridges to our cities from our rural areas and try to make some good solutions that cross economic and racial divides in our state, that will help us actually stop crime.
I think the second thing is that we have to have nationwide background checks. It is terrible to me that somebody can commit a crime here in Missouri and go to almost any of our eight bordering states and purchase a gun and then bring it back here to do harm. That is an issue, and that needs to be addressed. The Jefferson City News Tribune, our local newspaper, recently did an editorial about the same issue and one of the things were stopping guns from going into the hands of people that want to do harm through nationwide background checks.