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Should Missouri have a mask mandate? This Week in Missouri Politics hosts SD 15 debate

Two weeks out from Election Day, the candidates for SD 15 came together to debate the issues on voters’ minds this year.

Sen. Andrew Koenig and Rep. Deb Lavender stopped by Sunday’s episode of “This Week in Missouri Politics” to discuss their race for the western part of St. Louis County and field questions on issues ranging from the state’s COVID-19 response to abortion and violent crime. 

Lavender touted about her focus on health care and the economy, urging voters to choose her over the Republican incumbent.

“I am running for state senator to be able to protect women’s health care choices, to make sure our public schools continue to be strong, and to work for the people of this district and not the corporations,” she said. “I’ve done that as a state representative and I hope to be able to do that as a senator.”

The candidates discussed COVID-19, with Lavender advocating for a statewide mask mandate and Koenig arguing the opposite. 

“One of my issues is how we would enforce it,” Koenig said. “I think what we need to do is educate people that masks help protect people, and whenever we go out we try to social distance. I think the hammer of government shouldn’t necessarily come down, it should be done more through education.”

The candidates also came up with similar positions on the issue of violent crime in St. Louis. Koenig, who initially introduced a concurrent jurisdiction bill in the Senate during the special session on violent crime, said the measure would have been beneficial to helping the issue and that it may make a comeback next session. 

Lavender said she opposed defunding the police and advocated for increased salary and safety procedures for the state’s law enforcement

The debate also covered the candidates’ stances on abortion and health care, with Lavender pointing to the state’s policies and her opponent’s past legislation. 

“I certainly think Missouri needs to do better at protecting women’s health care choices,” she said. “I have advocated for clinics who care for expecting mothers to tell them the truth about their health care options. We all know my opponent sponsored the bill banning abortion in Missouri with no exceptions — that’s an extreme position for this district, that’s an extreme position for women, and it’s an extreme position for the state of Missouri.”  

“There’s no question I’m definitely pro-life,” Koenig said. The incumbent also discussed past legislation designed to help families with foster children access health care and other services. 

Koenig reported nearly $25,000 on hand in his October filing report. Lavender came in with more than $600,000 in her war-chest. 

Watch the full episode of “This Week in Missouri Politics” below. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.