The candidates running for Missouri’s 53rd House District have outlooks that reflect their lifelong careers.
Democrat Henry Grubb, retired from teaching for 31 years in Fort Osage schools, focuses on education issues and says he wants to return civility to the discourse in Jefferson City.
Incumbent Glen Kolkmeyer, owner of a trucking firm, calls transportation a top priority.
Kolkmeyer, a Republican, is running for his second term in the district, which is an area along Interstate 70 between the Missouri River and just north of U.S. 50. It includes part of Jackson County.
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Grubb said he became convinced that he should run for the statehouse after spending time in the visitors’ gallery during a veto session in 2013.
“When I sat in the gallery, I was taken aback by the uncivil atmosphere,” he said. “People should be able to disagree, but they don’t have to be mean and snarky.”
Since then, he has pledged to work for full funding of education and against things that would threaten it.
Kolkmeyer, vice chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said transportation issues are among his top priorities, along with making the state business-friendly.
“I am a businessman, and I’m in Jefferson City to play defense, not offense,” he said.
The two differed substantially on income tax cuts approved last session and their impact on the state budget and business climate. Kolkmeyer was supportive, saying the criticisms of a similar move in Kansas are “spin.”
“I want to make Missouri look like Texas, not Detroit,” Kolkmeyer said. “Texas is booming. We need to make a business-friendly climate in Missouri.”
Texas is one of seven states with no state income tax.
Grubb said the income tax cuts could be debilitating to public school budgets and road funding.
“We all want our taxes used in the most efficient way,” he said, but he’s worried about the unknown effects of the bill.
“I don’t believe in a race to the bottom with Kansas on taxes,” he added.
The failure of a sales tax for road repairs will also pose problems, the candidates said.
Grubb said roads should still be funded by a user fee such as the state gasoline tax. Kolkmeyer said he doesn’t have a favorite option yet but is adamantly against the idea of toll roads. Toll roads would limit exits to small towns and would hurt their economies, he said.
On expansion of Medicaid under the federal health care law, Kolkmeyer is against it and running on an anti-Affordable Care Act platform, he said.
Grubb took the opposite position. “I think it is silly to not accept money from the federal government when it is being offered.”
Address: 4166 Grubb Road, Odessa
Occupation: Retired world history teacher
Education: Master’s in history, University of Missouri-Kansas City; bachelor’s in education, Central Missouri State University
Previous public service: Odessa Board of Education, 2013-present and 1995-2007; board of education president, 1999-2006; member, Odessa Foundation; National Frontier Trails Museum board
Address: 7075 Deerview Drive, Odessa
Occupation: Owner and CEO, Energy Transport Solutions
Education: Graduated from Wellington-Napoleon High School 1977; studied fire science at the University of Missouri
Previous public service: Missouri House, 2012-present; current president, Lafayette County Law Enforcement Restitution Fund; past president, Lafayette County Firefighters Association