I'm the only candidate in this race that supports a woman's right to choose and has provided tax relief to Missouri residents. Protecting the rights of district residents and delivering results are what guide my votes in Jefferson City.
As a son of two school teachers, and a former teacher myself, quality education for all Missouri children will always be my top priority. As with any fundamental right, the right to a quality education should not depend on a family’s zip code. Moreover, we know that the earlier a child has access to a quality education the more likely they are to have a successful educational outcome. We have the opportunity, with a record state budget surplus, to establish universal pre-K in our state. We must at the least fund the recently established Quality Assurance assessment program to ensure that our state’s preschools and early learning centers are the best they can be.
We must also restructure our school funding formula to more adequately address high need areas, to include transportation spending, and to relieve some of the tax burden felt particularly by seniors in our community.
And lastly, we must do more to address the school to prison pipeline, by ending the ineffective punitive reactions to challenging behavior. Rather than suspending our youngest students or relying on corporal punishment or seclusion rooms, we should instead invest more in school counselors, social workers, and mental health professionals that can provide support and resources to students and teachers during challenging and stressful times.
Criminal Justice Reform
Missouri has one of the highest incarceration rate of adults in the nation, and one of the fastest growing rates of incarcerated women. Since 1990, the rate of Black Missourians in incarceration has increased 64 percent. As Missouri Supreme Court Justice Zel Fisher said recently, “We must reserve our prisons for those we’re afraid of, not just mad at.”
St. Louis County is a model for successful diversion and rehabilitation programs that: reduce crime, limit incarceration, save our state money, and facilitate the re-entry of criminal offenders into productive society. It’s time that treatment courts for nonviolent offenses be the norm in every jurisdiction in our state. It’s also time to update our criminal statutes pertaining to marijuana use, abolish mandatory minimum sentences, and establish a more fair and rehabilitative process for juvenile offenders.
If there ever was a universal value, it is the right of every citizen to be treated equally by their government. Women deserve equal access to health care, including abortion, and equal pay in the workplace. We cannot live in a society without the constitutional protections of Roe v. Wade. Kids deserve to play the sports they want to play, and use the bathroom they want to use, without ignorant bureaucratic intrusion. Immigrants must be able to live, go to school, and work in peace without the burden of having to survive government scrutiny because of their ethnicity or national origin. And Black lives must matter more to a government which for more than 400 years has segregated its people.
Gun Violence Prevention
The Missouri legislature continues to loosen gun laws each year as our gun violence statistics skyrocket. Last year, the legislature passed a law titled the “Second Amendment Preservation Act” (SAPA) that prevents state law enforcement from enforcing federal gun laws. This bill was adamantly opposed by law enforcement officers around the state, and continues to make their job of reducing crime more difficult. We must repeal this law, and we must work police officers in our community and around the state to make it happen.
We're a big state, and as St. Louisans our goal should be trying get "small government" conservatives in Jefferson City to practice what they preach - local control. We have a gun violence crisis in St. Louis, and our local elected officials have tools, resources, and policies to address the issue - but their hands are constantly tied by legislators in Jefferson City who want our community to be as much the Wild West our state's most rural counties. This is unsustainable.
In 2018, 8,690 firearms were recovered and traced by the ATF in Missouri. That number is up from the 4,341 traced in 2011. There was a 40% increase between 2012 and 2018 in the number of guns traced to people 17 or younger. Missouri’s increase in firearms deaths was 64.1%
between 1999 and 2017 — the second-highest increase nationally. We must do more to keep guns out of the hands of minors, which is why I’ve proposed what should be common sense legislation to require an ID check and age verification at every gun purchase.
This is another issue where our big state must work together to find policies that work for individual communities. Some communities will benefit from wind, others from solar, others from nuclear, others from natural gas. Farmers and urbanites have more in common on this issue than just about any other, based on what each community stands to gain. We all want cleaner air and cleaner water. Missouri must increase the number of solar farms and continue to modernize our electric grid. As one of the nation’s top producers of soybeans, our state has the opportunity to be a leader in biofuel production.
Our responsibility as citizens to look after one another is summed up in these two words. Health care must be affordable, accessible, and equitable for every Missourian. A person's income should decide whether or not to remove their belly fat, not whether or not they can afford to remove a cancerous tumor. No one should go bankrupt, lose their job, or lose their home because of necessary medical bills. We must commit as a society to a system of health care delivery that prevents economic catastrophe resulting from an illness or injury.
Missourians voted to expand Medicaid so that no Missourian loses their health, or their life, because they can't afford medical treatment. Medicaid expansion benefits urban and rural Missourians by providing federal resources to hospitals and medical providers who care for underserved communities. Expansion of health care access to the most vulnerable among us makes both moral and economic sense.
The continued assault on our democracy by politicians who refuse to accept election outcomes they don’t like is leading us all down a dangerous path. Our elections are secure, period. So-called “election reform” proposals that remove eligible voters from the rolls, and limit poll access in Black neighborhoods, is a brutal display of modern day Jim Crow. The real reforms to our electoral system should be ones that make it easier to vote, not harder. Greater access to absentee voting, and opportunities for early voting, would increase participation in our democratic process, which should be a bipartisan goal.
A Fair Economy
I’m a Democrat because I believe in fair wages, fair taxes, and equal opportunity to pursue the American Dream. Currently, only three other states in the country see more college students move away after graduation. These new graduates move to states with more robust and diverse economies, and they’re not all on the coasts. They are places like Nashville and Indianapolis that have restructured their approach to economic development so that communities work together in cooperation, rather than competition to recruit new business.
In Clayton alone, day time population surges from 16,000 to 46,000. The approximately 30,000 people who work daily in the center of St. Louis government and return home to other cities and towns deserve the same basic economic opportunities as those who call Clayton home – fair wages for fair work; affordable, accessible, quality health care; quality education; and equal treatment under the law. This is what I stand for and will continue to work toward as your state representative.