In the Northland of Kansas City lies a toss up race to replace Rep. Ron Schieber. This race was held not too long ago by a Democrat – Rep. Jason Grill. Democrat Stephanie Isaacson and Republican Kevin Corlew will square off on November 4. The questions asked to the candidates were identical and the answers are unedited.
The Missouri Times: You’re in an extremely close race. Does a race this close come down to raising/spending more than your opponent?
A close race will come down to who connects more with the voters. Voters ultimately do not care how much money you raise or how much money you can spend to get elected. Instead, concerned citizens want to know they can trust the candidate to do the right thing. So there is no substitute for getting out and meeting with voters to listen to their concerns. I think the fact that I’ve been walking neighborhoods nearly every day since April and have met thousands of voters at their doorsteps has helped me to connect with voters. Another necessary element for winning a close race is to broaden the candidate’s support by finding common ground and building coalitions with people of varying interests. My message and consensus-building leadership style has reached a broad spectrum of people, including business owners, workers, women, men, public servants, educators, and families.
TMT: What makes you the most qualified candidate to represent your district in the House?
Already an involved community leader, I want to serve in a greater role to improve Missouri, so the people in my Northland district can live, work, and raise their families in peace and prosperity. I’ve served as a school board member for North Kansas City Schools, a member of the Republican central committee, and chair of our neighborhood homeowners association. I’ve also served in a number of leadership positions for church and civic groups. Through those experiences, I’ve shown I can work with people with varying interests and can put party politics aside in order to find solutions that work. As a practicing attorney, community leader, and proud husband and father, I know I can make a difference. I chose to run for state representative out of a concern for the general welfare of my fellow citizens and to make sure that my children continue to enjoy the same liberties and opportunities that I have been afforded.
TMT: You’ve knocked a lot of doors. What’s the issue you’re hearing about most from the voters?
I hear the most comments about the need for fiscal responsibility from our government. And this concern cuts across party lines and has been shared with me by Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. Northland voters want a representative who will look out for the hardworking men and women who pay their taxes by making sure the government is spending their money wisely and efficiently. The people I speak with are concerned that the government is wasting their hard-earned dollars, and I want go to Jefferson City to demand that does not happen.
TMT: Where are the areas you and your opponent disagree that you think the voters should know about?
While I believe in the rule of law, ethical and fair business practices, and treating workers fairly, the environmental company my opponent owns and operates is being sued and investigated for underpaying its workers on prevailing-wage projects. Worse, the company’s workers claim that my opponent retaliated against them when they complained. If true, the allegations of those workers mean she violated Missouri law.
A recent investigative news series by the Kansas City Star concluded that unethical business practices on publically invested projects, such as misclassifying workers to avoid paying them appropriately and paying them less than Missouri law requires, cheat not only the workers but also taxpayers and the government. And those practices hurt other companies who bid on public projects but play by the rules. Greater accountability is needed to ensure that people who benefit from the use of Missourians’ tax dollars are playing by the rules. As a legislator, I’ll seek such accountability; my opponent won’t.
In addition, my opponent will support Barack Obama’s and Nancy Pelosi’s policy goals in Jefferson City by supporting bigger government, higher taxes on job creators, and more burdensome environmental and other types of regulation on Missouri’s business community.
In contrast to her, I would promote a reasonable approach to attaining environmental sustainability in an economically viable way. I believe my opponent would hurt the economy, slow the ongoing economic recovery, and increase energy costs for Missourians.
Last, I am pro-life and will protect the right to life of all innocent persons, including those who are unborn, disabled or elderly. Based on her answers to questionnaires and endorsements by pro-abortion special-interest groups, my opponent supports abortion on demand, and at any stage of a pregnancy.
TMT: What can we expect from your campaign between now and Election Day?
We’ll continue to work hard and will increase our efforts to meet and earn the support of voters by going door to door and participating in community events. In addition, we’ll continue to reach out to a broad spectrum of people for support. Whereas my opponent is relying on large corporate donations from her own company (to the tune of nearly $20,000), my support comes from a broad array of individuals and groups, showing that I’m the consensus-builder in the race. Although my opponent’s political party had promised local labor groups that the party would not support my opponent, because of the claims that she has hurt Missouri workers, the party has now reneged on its promise, thrown principles to the wind, and begun to pour money into her race in a desperate attempt to save her campaign. But I’ll continue to press ahead to victory through building broad-based coalitions, meeting voters, and offering sensible solutions to improve the economy, education, and essential services in Missouri.
TMT: What’s the first piece of legislation you plan to file if you’re elected?
The school-transfer law needs to be fixed. Having served on the school board for North Kansas City Schools, I have first-hand experience with the transfer law, which engendered costly litigation among KC-metro school districts. To ensure students in struggling schools receive a high-quality education in a manner that doesn’t bankrupt local school districts, my plan would focus on early intervention in struggling districts, targeting school buildings (as opposed to entire districts) that are the most academically stressed; allowing parents the choice of transfers from low-performing schools to higher-performing schools within the same district; giving districts the flexibility to set transfer policies based on class size and teacher-student ratios; and helping unaccredited districts improve early childhood education and school programming.
TMT: How will you make a unique impact as just one member of a large caucus?
My ability to work with all people and to find common ground will help me get things done. My legal experience will also help me evaluate bills and negotiate among competing interests to reach consensus and craft good legislation. I will be able to interpret proposed bills and identify and fix the unintended consequences we often see in legislation.
TMT: What are some areas of public policy that you believe have a bipartisan consensus?
Most of the people of our district—regardless of party affiliation—want an effective and efficient government that is fiscally responsible and takes care of essential services with excellence. In addition, most people in our district believe that great schools are a central component of a thriving community. Finally, most people would prioritize public safety. They want to be able to live, work, and raise their families in peace and safety.
TMT: What is different in this year’s campaign from campaigns you’ve been involved in in the past?
In the same way I’ve learned from my experience in community leadership, from a campaign standpoint, experience has taught me to work not only harder but also smarter.
TMT: What’s the single most important legislative issue you think you’ll have to deal with in the coming year?
In addition to working to ensure the state meets its obligation to provide a high-quality education to all Missouri students, legislators must find innovative ways to fix and improve healthcare in Missouri. The government takeover of healthcare through Obamacare has increased costs, decreased patient choice, and expanded the size and reach of the federal government beyond its intended scope. The Missouri General Assembly must work to find affordable and sustainable solutions to help truly needy Missourians get access to the healthcare they need while at the same time ensuring that all Missourians can access the high-quality doctors and hospitals they expect.