The Southwest Missouri Tea Party hosted a Missouri Senatorial debate for the 29th District on June 18 at the Shell Knob VFW, with candidates Jim Strafuss, James Strahan and Representative David Sater participating.
A total of 97 citizens attended the event, along with several candidates seeking other offices in the next election.
Pete Henderson, president of the Southwest Missouri Tea Party, opened with introductions of dignitaries, the candidates and the moderators, Bruce Ringger, Tea Party member, and Ed Johnson, who is a member of the Barry County Republican Club.
Sater is a pharmacist who has been serving in the Missouri House of Representatives for the past eight years. Strafuss is a current commissioner for Taney County and has worked in the technology industry for Cisco Systems.
Strahan is the Taney County Assessor, a small business owner and farmer.
Candidates were able to respond to 12 structured questions to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the issues. Candidates also gave their ideas on how to change or influence the outcomes for Missouri. Candidates had the opportunity to voice where they stand on specific bills currently under consideration in the Missouri Senate. At the end of the debate, candidates participated in a lightning round of questions that required no more than a one or two word answer.
All candidates agreed on some topics, such as approving the expansion of nuclear energy in Missouri, the "stand your ground" law and farmers' markets should be exempt from inspection by local health boards.
Strahan felt states should have the power to mandate health care for residents while Strafuss thought the mandate "went too far," and health care should not be mandated for anyone in the state. Sater said he votes against mandates, and thinks they are unconstitutional.
The candidates also voiced their thoughts on poor student performance in public schools. Strafuss said he feels throwing money at the problem won't fix it. Sater is against giving money to charter schools and he supports public schools, saying he thinks they are doing a good job. Strahan believes the state should return the schools to the teachers instead of trying to teach to state mandated standards.
The final result of the straw poll vote was: Sater, 32; Strahan, 30; and Strafuss, 25.
The next debate is slated for July 9, with candidates running for the Missouri House of Representatives.