As the special election for HD 45 draws nearer, three Democratic candidates are making their bids to represent Columbia in the lower chamber.
Hopefuls Caleb Hall, David Tyson Smith, and Scott Cristal spoke to the Boone County Democratic Central Committee, constituents, and reporters during a virtual town hall Friday afternoon. The candidates fielded questions from the committee about local control, COVID-19, and their legislative priorities during the meeting.
Smith, an attorney based in Columbia, said COVID-19 and local control were major priorities of his campaign — a sentiment echoed by the other hopefuls.
“When you walk around Columbia and go in our businesses, people are wearing masks and being careful while in Jefferson City it seems like they have no idea it’s even happening,” Smith said. “That’s in the state capital, and it’s alarming. We can’t have local control stripped from our people who are actively doing the right things — we’re one of the only areas encouraging people to mask up and protect themselves.”
Hall is an attorney with the Office of Public Counsel (OPC), where he considers requests from various utility companies brought before the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC). Hall previously worked as a House analyst, experience he said would benefit him in the statehouse.
“I staffed committees, wrote legislation, and advised representatives on their legislation,” he said. “I’ve worked directly with elected officials, many of whom are still in the Capitol. I have a first-hand understanding of how that building works, and that is knowledge I’ll put to use immediately for Columbia.”
Cristal, a real estate agent, said he would seek to promote collaboration between Democrats from across the state in the legislature.
“We all know is a very politically charged atmosphere,” Cristal said. “Part of my approach is to find areas where we can work together. One of the things I would suggest is creating a highway of opportunities where we can use the resources we have in Columbia and Kansas City and St. Louis all working together for the betterment of the state. I feel this is something that would benefit us as a super-minority in the legislature.”
Rep. Kip Kendrick, who served as ranking minority member on the House Budget Committee and the Special Committee on Government Oversight last session, announced he would vacate his House seat in November. He left the legislature to serve as chief of staff to new state Sen. Greg Razer.
The committee is set to name its candidate on Jan. 20, according to the group; there won’t be a primary before the special election, which Gov. Mike Parson scheduled for April 6.
As of Friday, no Republicans have thrown their hats into the race. Kendrick won his bid for another term in November with no GOP opposition.