ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – The current Buchanan County presiding commissioner, Harry Roberts, is officially tossing his hat in the ring to replace the term-limited Sen. Rob. Schaaf as the senator for District 34.
“I’m a small business owner and a conservative who got involved in politics to give back to our community. I’m running for State Senate because I believe Missouri can do better,” Roberts said. “We have too many attorneys and career politicians in Jefferson City who have forgotten the values of limited government, hard work, and common sense.”
Roberts has been the presiding commissioner since 2014 and was able to reduce the county’s spending and looking to make taxes as low as possible.
“We- I guess you can say – attacked the budget and took a different stance,” he said. “We keep an eye on the tax dollars, looking for ways to save tax dollars without reducing the services that we provide. We actually lowered our general fund projection this year in an effort to do so.”
Roberts has an insight into budgetary spending. Outside of his work as presiding commissioner, he has worked in insurance for 32 years. Because of his position in both public life and in the private sector, he feels he is able to better understand the issues his constituents face.
“It gives me a good attachment to what people are facing in the business world,” he says.
As commissioner, he has been working on a project to improve the Missouri River levees, the last levee system in the state of Missouri. He mentions that the system hasn’t been improved since the river flooded in 1993.
As senator, he hopes to advocate for improving Missouri’s infrastructure and notes that the road system can be improved.
“We don’t want people going around our state, we want them coming through our state and, ultimately, that helps business,” he says. “It helps the small businessman all the way up to the manufacturers.”
Roberts has gone around meeting his constituents, who he says are tired of the political climate. Particularly, Roberts feels that divisive rhetoric has damaged the political system.
“I’ve heard one thing: people are sick of what politics has become,” he said. “I think there are things we can do better. Trying to work together as opposed to trying to stand out and be an individualist. I think the Senate welcomes independent thinking, but at the end of the day, we need to work together to get the best results for the citizens.”
Roberts added, “That’s our job as elected officials to try to be as efficient we possibly can for the voters.”
Roberts can expect a competitive race for SD 34 seat. According to the Missouri Ethics Commission, he has $18,190.42 on hand. Many have eyes on the SD 34 seat including Rep. Galen Higdon – who has $583 on hand, Rep. Nick Marshall – who has $18,983 on hand, and Martin Rucker, a former candidate for HD 14 with $2,050 on hand. Tony Luetkemeyer, a Kansas City attorney, announced in May that he would be running as well. He is expected to report over $150,000 on hand in the October filing period.