HALLSVILLE, Mo. – With two months until the November elections, many have turned off their television sets to escape the deluge of political messages or bitter attack ads that have assaulted them for the better part of the last year. Missouri has had some especially contentious races this year, and the nasty rhetoric only threatens to grow until November.
But for the political junkie looking for a clean race on the issues, look no further than the 44th House District race to replace Rep. Caleb Rowden.
Former Hallsville Mayor Cheri Reisch and former Hallsville Alderman Tom Pauley worked in city hall together for four years. While in office they both collaborated on a $1.6 million sewer upgrade for the city of Hallsville, as well as significant work to make some city facilities ADA compliant.
The two state that while they did not always see eye to eye on every issue while working together, they have a respect for each other that neither believes will boil over into personal animosity during the race.
“I would consider us friends,” Reisch says. “We’re both members of the Hallsville Chamber of Commerce and have worked on a lot of other projects together.”
“I’m a lifelong Democrat, she’s a lifelong Republican, and we both take a different look at things,” Pauley says. “We both respect each other… We’re trying to make this as civil as disagreement as we possibly can. This is how I think this system is supposed to work.
“We have disagreed, and we’re adamant when we disagree,” Pauley continues. “We came to a mutual agreeable solution that maybe neither of us was totally happy about… but we found a good middle ground.”
While the two aren’t best friends by any means, Reisch and Pauley experience small town familiarities – running into each other at the market, seeing each other at community events and churches – enough to be cordial during the race.
“When I decided to run, I called Tom up,” Reisch says. “I told him I’m not going to mudsling, and I’m not going to go down that road.”
On the issues
If personal insults or mudslinging continue not to define the 44th District race, then the two will mainly talk policy where they do have a lot to fight about.
“He and I jokingly say at the city-level we agree.” Reisch says. “On the state or national level, we agree to disagree.”
The two candidates mostly stay on their respective party line on most contemporary issues. Reisch is a proponent of photo voter ID, right-to-work legislation (although coming from a union family she doesn’t consider herself an opponent of labor) and the Second Amendment. Pauley opposes anti-labor reforms as a former 20-year union sheet metal worker, and he believes in fully funding the state’s foundation formula.
Reisch is also endorsed by Missouri Right to Life. Pauley, by NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri and Planned Parenthood.
Each of them also have their own issues they hope to bring to the forefront in the campaign. For Pauley, that issue is Medicaid expansion. Pauley owns his own health insurance agency in Hallsville, and he supports the Affordable Care Act and the benefits he believes Medicaid expansion would provide.
“My contention is that it’s not humanely responsible to not expand it,” he says. “The people that need it the most are the ones that are suffering the most.”
He balks at the notion that it is not a fiscally responsible issue.
“Currently we’re losing about $2 billion dollars of taxpayer money, going out of our pocket to the IRS in Washington D.C., and they distribute it to other states because our state legislature refuses to expand Medicaid,” he says.
However, Reisch believes Medicaid expansion would prove too dangerous since it is tied to the ACA, something she calls a “fatally flawed” system given the $20 trillion national debt.
She instead wants to promote private sector job growth and business expansion, and she believes she has a strong enough record to accomplish it. Reisch served as a member of Columbia Regional Economic Development, Inc. to expand and grow jobs and attract companies to Boone County.
“I have seen companies slip through our fingers and go to other states,” she says. “So I want to see what I can do to bring companies to Missouri or expand existing companies.”
The two also have long histories of service in Hallsville
Pauley is the former *president of the Hallsville Chamber of Commerce, a Democratic Central Committeeman for the city’s first ward, and he even directed the choir at Hallsville United Methodist Church. He has lived in city for the last 12 years, but he graduated from Columbia’s Hickman High School in 1969. Pauley also went back to college relatively recently and got his degree in political science at the UNiversity of Missouri in 2008.
Reisch has over 30 years of government experience as a city clerk, court administrator and Mayor in Hallsville, and she is a sixth-generation Boone County resident. She also has two four-year certifications* from the University of Missouri and her family was one of the founding families of the state’s flagship institution in 1839.
Pauley has slightly outraised Reisch in the race thus far $15,295 to $11,016. However, Reisch has more on hand with $2,182 to $1,981.
Both are also confident that they will emerge victorious. Reisch points to Pauley’s two-to-one margin of defeat to Rowden in 2014, but given that Pauley is no longer running against an incumbent and it’s a presidential election year, the result is considered a toss up by The Missouri Times’ own House Tip Sheet.
UPDATE – Friday, Sept. 9, 7:28 p.m.: A few clarifications made at asterisked points.