DEXTER, Mo. – In one of the last election opportunities in 2017, HD 151 will be voting for their new representative on November 7 – a week from tomorrow. The House seat was officially vacated by former Rep. Tila Hubrecht in June.
The district, which includes Stoddard County, could be seen as a solidly Republican district as it voted for Donald Trump by over 83 percent in this past election. While some political pundits have opined that Trump’s appeal was exclusively among people who had a dissatisfaction with politics on the political right, it is indeed Democrat Curtis Clark, a recently retired MoDOT employee, who appeared the most upset with the political system.
“What needs to happen is that we need to throw Democrats and Republicans out the window and vote for the person because they’re too much flip-flap going on up there – anywhere,” Clark said. “In Jeff City, worst of all over. There are too many people lining their pockets. Somebody has got to make a stand; somebody has to change what it is. Right now, it isn’t anything but corrupt.”
Clark continued. “I want to take a little bit of common sense to Jeff City and I want to try and make a difference to working class people,” Clark said. “Most of them are book smart people. I’ve got nothing against them and that’s fine and dandy. We need common sense and we need someone who has worked for a living and knows what it’s all about.”
Republican Herman Morse, a former English teacher and a minister, took a slightly different approach. He said that he can best represent his district because of his willingness to listen to his district and his aversion to special interests. “I don’t think my vote could be influenced by a donation or anything like that,” he said. “I’m willing to listen. I don’t have any particular agenda.”
At the same time, he reflected tropes of Republican talking points. “Gun control is an issue to some of the people. Education is an issue. Abortion is an issue for some of the people. Certainly, those are some of the issues I have been campaigning strongest on, but they’re concerned about jobs and the way government works.”
The third candidate is Libertarian Rick Vandeven, the Vice-Chair and Communications Director of the Missouri Libertarian Party and could not be reached for comment.
One of Clark’s biggest frustrations is how expensive health insurance has become and he wanted to alleviate some of that burden.
“I care about health insurance,” Clark said. “There has got to be some way to make that affordable. The working class people are the backbone of the United States and it seems though they’re bursting their limits. The pharmacies and hospitals have things so jacked up that the working class people are barely surviving. I know because I’m one of them. I work two or three jobs just to pay off my insurance and bills.”
The candidates were familiar with the issues that negatively affected their community and want to be elected to be a part of the solution. For their constituents’ sake, both Morse and Clark want to make sure that they can help the Missouri legislature craft legislation to help them solve the complex problems that affect their community.
“Somehow, we need to address the issues that are important to rural people. There’s not that many of us anymore. Nobody likes having blank spaces when they’re traveling out here when they’re traveling from Memphis to St. Louis or something like that,” Morse said. “We’re shrinking and jobs are shrinking. Some of our best and brightest are going to the cities and not coming back.”
Michael Layer is a reporter for the Missouri Times and the Missouri Times Magazine. He joined the Missouri Times in August 2017 after graduating from Goucher College the previous May. To contact Michael, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @_MichaelLayer