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State rep candidates face off in Mt. Vernon

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Candidates seeking to fill the 157th state representative seat faced off in a candidate forum on March 22 at the Mt. Vernon Arts and Recreation Center.

Democrat Charles Dake and Republican Mike Moon answered questions posed by three county newspapers and several additional questions for individual candidates from the audience.

Dake introduced himself as a longtime veterinarian from Miller and past incumbent, having served in the 2006 General Assembly. Moon, who retired after working for 27 years for the St. John's heath care system in Springfield, runs a 60-acres poultry farm east of Mt. Vernon with his son, who raises goats.

Both candidates endorsed promoting job creation as a way to improve the local economy. Dake said the expansion of Medicaid represented a job-creation initiative that would create 2,000 jobs in the first year. He also wanted to find a way to fully fund public schools.

Moon wanted to push for retaining the veterans center that Congressman Billy Long plans to move to Springfield and keeping the Missouri Rehabilitation Center in Mt. Vernon. He advocated finding ways to keep young people from leaving the county by bringing industry and business to the county.

Asked to describe their fiscal priorities in shaping money bills, Moon said the state must reduce spending. A third of the state budget relies on federal funding and he wanted to find ways to stop balancing the budget with federal stimulus money and reduce spending on federal mandates.

State representative candidates Charles Dake, Democrat, at left, and Mike Moon, Republican, at right, shook hands at the conclusion of the only candidate forum on March 22 held for their race prior to the special election on April 2 to fill the 157th District seat vacated by Don Ruzicka. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff] [Order this photo]
Dake said he did not support raising the state sales tax, a move he felt would hurt the poor and elderly. Instead, he advocated evaluating all state programs. Dake voiced concern over state funds diverting to Kansas City and St. Louis and preferred to see collaborative ways to reduce state spending.

Asked how the candidates differ, Dake said unlike Republicans, he opposes vouchers for schools, which he viewed as an invitation to government intervention. He supports Medicaid expansion to keep funds from diverting to another state. He planned to support the working class and senior citizens.

Moon supports making prevailing wage an voluntary program. He endorsed pursuing a photo identification for voting and reforming Medicaid, rather than expanding the federal program with a scheduled end to additional funding.

On job expansion, Moon endorsed finding ways to support agriculture as a product producer supporting numerous industries. Dake said his practice created nine jobs. He saw attracting outside industry into the county as an more effective way to add jobs.

Dating his bids for public office back to the former 133rd District when the local state representative also served Cedar County, Dake said his views had not changed much over the years.

"My son says 'The old man is a Republican. He just doesn't know it,'" Dake said.

Moon said he first ran for U.S. Congress in 2010. Others approaching him convinced him to run this time.

"I've come to realize the federal government is on a runaway train," Moon said.

On dealing with Obamacare, Moon said the federal government should not mandate individuals have insurance, or medical care. He called healthcare a matter of "personal responsibility," and not a government mandate.

Dake said even Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner said there were good things in Obamacare. Dake said there were features he liked and disliked in the federal legislation.

Asked how to build consensus and compromise among legislators, Moon said his first choice in looking at legislation would be to determine if a proposal was constitutional, whether the state needed to be involved and whether the issue promoted personal feeling. He did not support "compromise for the sake of compromise," and questioned is a bill represent the greater good of Lawrence County's citizens.

Dake advocated taking other legislators to lunch and finding grounds for trading support. Rather than see good bills become unsupportable with numerous amendments, Dake advocated voting on issues one at a time, making it easier to find agreement.

Asked about Right to Work legislation, Dake said he opposed such bills because without it, "Missouri salaries are $5,500 higher for the average worker than in 22 of the Right to Work states."

Moon said he supports individual freedom. He felt companies should be able to choose how much a person should be paid, and that minimum wage was never meant to support a person on its own. Moon said cutting corporate taxes attracts businesses.

On negative advertising, Moon said he opposed casting aspersions on his opponent. Only ads that say, "Mike Moon for Missouri" come from him. Moon said he did not know who hired the company conducting a phone survey asking negative questions about Dake.

Dake said Moon's supporters were making all kinds of claims against him. He placed his face against Moon's, said he "turned the other cheek," and "found it more Christian to keep my mouth shut."

To override a federal law, Moon said the Tenth Amendment for state sovereignty made standing up to the federal government a responsibility. He praised Sheriff Brad DeLay for expressing opposition to taking guns away from owners.

Dake said opposition to federal enforcement would accomplish little against an army. He advocated pushing a constitutional amendment as a better remedy.

Asked by the audience about pledging to move toward removing the state income tax, Dake said he would pledge not to raise taxes.

"I cannot pledge to eliminate the income tax. We need money to operate," Dake said.

In closing, Moon said voters had a heritage to protect and values to defend. He wanted to work for Lawrence County residents and "protect what we earned."

Dake said while his opponent had an agenda, he had a goal to fight for rights, like gun rights, rather than a career move.

"Mike Moon, you're no Ronald Reagan. I'm Charles Dake, and I'm no Barack Obama. This whole thing is about people, not politics," Dake concluded.

Tom Cox served as moderator. The Lawrence County Record hosted the forum. Questions were provided by representatives from the Record, the Pierce City Leader-Journal and The Monett Times.

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