Eckersley stressed that he is an independent running as a Democrat.
"Whatever I can do to bring the interests, values and collective opinion of this district to the floor, that's what I'll do," Eckersley said. "A lot of folks are committing to represent a party or represent themselves. They believe constituents are third or lower. There needs to be a return of constituents to first."
Eckersley was critical of his Republican opponent, Billy Long, for backing out of debating. The Democrat cautioned voters to be wary of promises about being against all earmarked funds as a political gimmick.
"I'm all for reforming the earmarks system, establishing uniform limits or even eliminating earmarks if everyone agrees," Eckersley said. "If you say no [to federal funding], jobs go somewhere else. I believe that the money ought to go to the district. The last thing we need to is to have to stop funding that will hurt road and bridge building in the district."
Eckersley said Congressman Blunt has done a good job in bringing tax dollars back to the district. Support for the Southwest Area Career Center in Monett and Highway 65 in Greene County were examples of positive contributions that Eckersley mentioned.
In stating his priorities, Eckersley said he had not thought far enough ahead yet to say on which Congressional committees he would like to serve.
"I really feel that anything the falls in line with the interests and values of the district would be worthwhile," Eckersley said. "A better question might be who would I caucus with. Some say the current administration and the Speaker [of the House] do not reflect the Seventh District. We need to put it all on the table, even the Tea Party. I will caucus with whatever party will reflect the district. When you walk down the center, you're committed to serving the public first."
Several in the audience at the gathering asked the candidate to speak about healthcare and the Proposition C vote that puts Missouri against reforms enacted by the Obama administration.
Before I became chief counsel [actually deputy legal counsel] for Matt Blunt," Eckersley said, "the cost of health insurance was going out of reach. I think the bill needs significant tweaking. This is a start. With Proposition C, there was too much gimmickry, too much politics. If this isn't the answer, let's work on it."
Eckersley stressed a better solution to healthcare was to get independent-minded people working on the issue to get beyond partisanship. With a record of working with both parties, Eckersley felt he represented the right kind of person for the job.
"At the end of the day, I say I am not an expert on all the issues, but I will work harder, stay longer and later than anyone else up there," Eckersley said.