Fourth District candidate interviews: Taylor Burks
U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler is vacating the Fourth Congressional District seat she’s held for more than a decade.
Hartzler’s run for U.S. Senate has left her House seat open in the November election, with seven Republicans rushing in to fill the vacuum. But they must win the August primary before they can move on to take on the Democratic and Libertarian candidates in November.
Taylor Burks is the lone Mid-Missouri candidate in the race. He's a veteran and a former Boone County clerk, giving him insight into the elections process.
Lucas Geisler: Just to start things off, what should people know about you?
Taylor Burks: Well, I'm a fifth-generation farm kid, grew up down in the Ozarks here in Missouri, cattle family, 15-year Navy veteran. So like a lot of farm kids, I left the farm to join the United States Navy. I have served overseas a few times, and then came back home where my wife and I are raising our boys right here in Boone County. People in Mid-Missouri might know me as the only Republican county clerk in Boone County history.
Geisler: Many people watching this probably remember you from your time as the top election official for Boone County. You have brought up on your website as well, election integrity, being part of this. In fact, you tweeted today that it's on the ballot this November, right? What do you mean by that? What about election integrity is on the ballot come this midterm?
Burks: Well, I don't think it's any surprise that people are talking about election integrity. And I'm the only candidate for Congress in the country who's actually run an elections office. And so when we talk about restoring faith and confidence in what our elections look like, I think that means having somebody who has experienced running elections. Election integrity comes up every single election. The only reason we're talking about it as much as we are is because of President Trump, President Biden, and what happened in 2020. And so I say, let's move past 2020. Let's recognize that there are always irregularities, always things that people are concerned about. But the only way to restore that integrity in our elections is to elect people who can understand what we're talking about, understanding what the election process means, and then propose reform in a common-sense way. How we are protecting the foundation of this republic, which is the ballot box?
Geisler: What does that look like to you at the federal level?
Burks: I mean, there are reasonable things. I think photo IDs are something that most Americans understand and believe that we have to have a check. I like photo ID. The rest of the stuff that's being proposed in Washington, D.C., by Democrats right now is huge federal overreach and nationalization of elections. So we need people who can say, “Hey, this is a common-sense process or reform,” or, “Hey, this is something that the federal government ought to be doing.”
Geisler: So as far as the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, I know that's a big proposal from the Democrats right now. I take it you’re not on board with anything in there?
Burks: Most of that's a huge federal overreach. And that's a far-left agenda. That's been crammed into H.R. 1, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and then the Senate version of that as well. None of that was negotiated with Republicans. And when we're talking about proposing reforms that all Americans can get behind, if it's a partisan power grab by Democrats, people aren't going to have faith and confidence in our elections. I'm for reforming our elections. I'm for a conversation. But it's got to be something that all Americans or most Americans can get behind. Because if we don't do that, it's going to continue to be this partisan debate back and forth on the integrity and transparency of elections.
Geisler: We did see some bipartisan movement on guns. A big bipartisan package moved its way through Congress and was signed by President Biden recently. Anything in there you like?
Burks: We talk about needing to change a lot of circumstances in this country around some of the mass shootings that we see. And so we talked about resources for schools, school resource officers, law enforcement, we have a criminal justice problem in this country, mental health resources, all of those are reasonable things that we ought to be talking about. But then when we get into the zone of red flag laws, where the federal government is incentivizing states to restrict or have the power to restrict gun ownership, that's really the red flag for me. And I would be against those sorts of things. I repeatedly talk on the campaign trail about how red flag laws are disproportionately used against veterans, people who've served in the military like me. And so when we have those components of any sort of national conversation on how we address mass shootings, those are problems for me. But by and large, when it comes to gun control, we have to recognize this is a cultural problem. This is not a weapon problem. This is the fact that there are so many people who are struggling and we don't have the resources to accommodate or fix or address those issues. And that's really what any legislation should be about.