Choose reform-minded candidates for the Missouri General Assembly

Voters will decide Nov. 4 who will serve in the Missouri Capitol in 2015.
Voters will decide Nov. 4 who will serve in the Missouri Capitol in 2015. The Associated Press

The Missouri General Assembly this year passed one of the nation’s most strident anti-abortion laws. It refused to help 300,000 low-income working Missourians by expanding Medicaid eligibility. It gave away taxpayers’ money to special interests like it was growing on trees.

In the Nov. 4 election, voters should choose lawmakers who genuinely want to make people’s lives better and clean up the ethical cesspool that is Jefferson City.

A great first step is for voters in northern Platte and Buchanan counties to send Sen. Rob Schaaf packing and replace him in the 34th District with Democrat Robert Stuber, a respected physician and community leader.

Schaaf, who is also a doctor, has vowed to block Medicaid expansion, even though hospitals and thousands of citizens are pleading for the legislature to raise the limits. The Republican senator is the reason Missouri is the only state in the nation not participating in a uniform drug registry to identify purchasers of excessive amounts of addictive painkillers and tranquilizers and the doctors who hand out the prescriptions.

People have almost certainly died because of Schaaf’s intransigence, but he said from the Senate floor that “it just removes them from the gene pool.” Such callousness is typical of Schaaf, who speaks and votes disparagingly on nearly every measure intended to help Missourians facing tough times.

Stuber would bring dignity and excellent experience to the seat. He founded and directed St. Joseph’s largest internal medicine practice for 30 years. Since retiring, he has logged more than 6,000 volunteer hours in a free medical clinic. Smart and passionate about helping people, Stuber is a refreshing choice for Northland voters who are tired of being embarrassed by Schaaf.

Other contested area races are for House seats. Here are The Star’s recommendations for selected districts.

District 12: Retired teacher and Smithville School Board member Sandy Van Wagner, a Democrat, would be a strong voice for quality schools. Incumbent Republican Kenneth Wilson didn’t make much of an impact as a freshman legislator.

District 14: Two hard-working candidates are vying for this open seat which includes parts of Kansas City, North, Riverside and Parkville. Businesswoman Stephanie Isaacson, a Democrat, looks like the better pick. She favors Medicaid expansion and adequate funding for schools and universities. Republican Kevin Corlew is making an issue of a lawsuit brought against Isaacson’s environmental cleanup company, alleging violations of prevailing wage laws. Isaacson has denied the allegations and appears to be the candidate in this race most likely to champion the causes of working families.

District 17: Democrat Mark Ellebracht, a lawyer, would protect education funding and expand Medicaid eligibility. That makes him the choice for this open seat over S. Nick King, a businessman and former Liberty City Council member.

District 18: Democrat Lauren Arthur brings a passion to the race that makes her a good choice for this open seat based in North Kansas City. She has classroom experience with the Teach for America program and works for an advertising firm. Her opponent is Republican Robert Rowland.

District 20: Incumbent John Mayfield, the Democratic candidate, works hard in Jefferson City and is a better choice for this seat covering parts of Eastern Jackson County than Republican Bill E. Kidd.

District 29: Incumbent Noel Torpey has worked hard and courageously to persuade fellow Republicans to expand Medicaid. He deserves the chance to keep trying. His opponent for this Independence-based seat is John B. Sutton, a Democrat.

District 32: Jeanie Lauer is a pragmatic Republican who uses her experience as a business owner and former Blue Springs City Council member to craft sensible legislation and solve problems. She deserves a third term and is the choice over Democrat Andrew Herman.

District 33: Retired educator Donna Pfautsch, a Republican, has been an independent-thinking, hard-working lawmaker and should remain in this Harrisonville-based seat. She is being challenged by Syed Asif, a Democrat, and Matthew Stephens, a Libertarian.

District 34: For this open Lee’s Summit seat, retired autoworker Dale Mercer, a Democrat, presents a thoughtful, moderate choice who would fight for ethics reform. Republican Rebecca Roeber appears ready to join the hard-right flank of the GOP that is more concerned about reining in “big government” than in solving problems.

District 35: Democrat Ken Duvall, a lawyer, shows a keen grasp of Missouri’s tax structure and the problems that recent legislative actions have posed for working families. He is a much better pick for this Lee’s Summit-based district than incumbent Republican Gary Cross, who has not made much of an imprint in his two terms in the Capitol.

District 36: Incumbent Kevin McManus is a bright light in the Democratic caucus, sponsoring good legislation on ethics reform and a truce in the economic development “border war” with Kansas. He deserves to be re-elected in this south Kansas City district. His GOP opponent is Nola Wood.

District 56: Patty Johnson, the Democratic candidate, would vote to expand Medicaid and fully fund essential services. She is a better choice than Republican Jack Bondon to replace retiring GOP Rep. Chris Molendorp in the Belton-based seat. Molendorp was an independent thinker, but Bondon appears to embrace the GOP platform wholesale.