Sisco and Chipman seek GOP nomination; Hockersmith, Mesger running on Democrat ticket
The 120th District, which covers most of Crawford County and the eastern portion of Phelps County, has not has representation in the Missouri House of Representatives since June 2013, when Jason Smith won a special election to represent Missouri’s 8th District in Congress.
The seat has remained vacant for over a year now, and it wasn’t until earlier this year when Gov. Jay Nixon called for a special election to be Tuesday, Aug. 5, to fill the vacant seat until the end of 2014.
Republican Shawn Sisco, of Rolla, is facing Democrat Zechariah Hockersmith, of St. James, in this special election. The winner of this race will represent the district for about five months, including during the upcoming veto session in September.
Also on the Aug. 5 election, voters in the district will cast ballots for the Republican and Democratic nominee who will then run in the November election for the 120th District seat. The winner of this primary will begin the term in January 2015.
What may be confusing is that two of the candidates in the special election are also running so they can continue to serve in 2015.
On the Republican ticket, Sisco will face off against Jason Chipman, of St. James,
On the Democratic ticket, Hockersmith will face off against Robert Mesger, of Sullivan.
The winners of these elections will then go up against each other in the Nov. 4 general election.
The Rolla Daily News submitted questionnaires to all four candidates running for the 120th District state representative and their responses are included throughout today’s edition.
Name: Shawn Sisco
Current and previous employment: I am self-employed – Lakeside Community (mobile home park)
Family: Married to Denise; daughter, Lauren; son-in-law, Dustin; grandson, Jude
Community service/voluntarism: I attend Landmark Baptist Church and currently serve as a Sunday school teacher and deacon. I am a contributor to and supporter of Pregnancy Resource Center and of Birthright of Rolla. I am a contributor to and Life member of the National Rifle Association. I am an active participant in Phelps County Republican Central Committee activities.
Previous elected offices (if any): None. This is my first election.
Why are you running for the office of state representative? To preserve the rights of those I represent.
What are your qualifications for the office of state representative? Serving the customers of my business and serving others through church ministries is, I believe, good preparation for the role of state representative.
Why are you a better choice than your opponent for this office? For the primary race: While we share similarities in basic positions, for the past 24 years I have operated my small businesses; I have perspective of what it is like to deal with state regulatory issues when I had customers to serve. I have the perspective of having expanded into other markets and that selection process of considering multiple possibilities and looking for those favorable conditions in which to do so. I have the perspective of seeing my daughter and son-in law move 1,000 miles away to begin their careers and really wishing that those opportunities had existed here in Missouri.
For the special election: My Democrat opponent touts his conservative positions as his greatest strengths, but the voters of 120th District know full well that any Democrat elected is another vote and voice for telling the rest of us how to run our businesses, raise our families and spend our money.
What do you believe should be done, if anything, to the way vacancies in state government are filled? Currently state law directs the governor to call elections ‘without delay.’ As the special election in our 120th District will fill a vacancy of more than 14 months, with several elections having been held during that period, it is apparent that language that spells out a tight timeline for special elections is needed in Missouri’s constitution.
Please explain your stance on the Common Core academic standards: I am opposed to the implementation of Common Core standards in Missouri. Local control of curriculum selection is vital to the very purpose of having locally elected school boards. We see young people from all over the globe, as well as here in Missouri excel at our universities, who have received their elementary and secondary education from a wide variety of curriculums in public, private and home schools. One size does not fit all.
Please explain your stance on Medicaid expansion in Missouri: I am opposed to expanding Medicaid for the following reasons: First, Missourians overwhelmingly are opposed to Obamacare and have voted to reject it. To then expand Medicaid thereby setting in motion all of the destructive power of a single payer government health care provider would be an act of defying the will and consent of the electorate. Secondly, it is important to keep in mind that Medicaid was intended to be limited to the indigent; Medicaid recipients who are found to hold assets or have other income now or in the future are subject to having wages garnished and liens placed on their assets. Expanding Medicaid so as to include people with income and assets will create more hardships than it solves. Lastly, expanded Medicaid creates an inverse incentive. People see short-term harm for increasing their income or gaining assets and won’t strive to position themselves to earn more.
What is your stance on the proposed three-quarters cent sales tax for transportation on the August ballot? I won’t be voting for it. While MoDOT goes on and on about the sorry condition of Missouri roads and bridges as the reason for this tax, it is important to know that a large percentage of this new revenue stream is slated for light rail and bike path construction. Additionally, this tax would reduce retail activity and slow our economy further.
What is your stance on the right-to-farm constitutional amendment on the August ballot? To the extent that it strengthens private property rights and limits the ever increasing regulatory burdens placed on our farmers, I support it. As with all such matters I am concerned with the unintended consequences.
What is your stance on the guns rights amendment on the August ballot? I will be voting for it. The state of Missouri must protect and defend the rights of Missourians against anyone (federal government included) who would not respect those rights.
What question did we not ask that you would like to ask and answer? An answer was not provided.
Name: Zechariah Hockersmith
Current and previous employment: Teacher and former administrator at Boys and Girls Town of Missouri, Owner of ProCare Pools LLC
Family: I am the father two children, Isaiah, 6, and Micaiah, 2, and the husband of Amber Hockersmith.
Civic organizations: Member of the St. James Masonic Lodge, Missouri State Teachers Association and regularly attends Greentree Christian Church.
Previous elected offices (if any): None.
Why are you running for the office of state representative? I am running for state representative because I strongly feel it is time for the common man to be represented in Jefferson City. It seems to me that today only the liberal left and radical right are represented in our government. As a successful small business owner and an educator, I believe I will bring a unique perspective to our state Legislature on a variety of issues. I believe my experiences have prepared me to truly and fairly represent the demographics of our district. It is extremely important to me that we are represented by someone with the courage to stand up against self-interested politicians with pet projects and the conviction to carry out the desires of the district. I am currently in the process of completing my master’s degree in administration and will use this education and experience to make the appropriate decision on legislation affecting Phelps and Crawford counties.
What are your qualifications for the office of state representative? As a lifelong Missourian, I understand the issues our state faces and have the experience to address these issues. As a small business owner, I am accustomed to making tough financial decisions. As an educator, I am accustomed to putting people over policy. At the age of 23, I was an administrator in a $60 million organization dedicated to the welfare of our children. I have been an advocate for youth my entire adult life and have the desire to advocate for all of Missouri— especially the great folks here in the 120th District.
Why are you a better choice than your opponents for this office? I have experience in both the private and public sector, which gives me the ability to analyze legislation from multiple perspectives. I have the education needed to make sound judgment pertaining to the direction of our state, and I have experienced first-hand the needs of working Missourians.
What do you believe should be done, if anything, to the way vacancies in state government are filled? I believe vacancies should be filled through the election process within 90 days. The people deserve representation with minimal time lapse. After all, we don’t get to quit paying taxes while we are without representation.
Please explain your stance on the Common Core academic standards: As a teacher who comes from a family of educators, I support a rigorous set of academic standards. I do not necessarily believe Common Core is the only option that should be explored, but it is obvious, with Missouri ranking 41st nationally in education, we must start somewhere. During my time as an educator, I have used both the State Standards and Common Core standards to align my curriculum. I am proud to see Missouri moving to improve the education of our students regardless of which standards we use.
Please explain your stance on Medicaid expansion in Missouri: The easiest way to answer this question is to explain that many of our rural hospitals will close their emergency rooms if Medicaid is not expanded. With this in mind, ask yourself— even if you have the best insurance in the world, what happens if you had a heart attack 45 minutes from the closest E.R.? I support the expansion of Medicaid simply because it is necessary to keep the doors to our rural hospitals’ emergency rooms open. After all, in a true medical emergency, minutes can be the difference between life and the death of our loved ones.
What is your stance on the proposed three-quarters cent sales tax for transportation on the August ballot? I do not generally support tax increases. However, I support this increase in sales tax as it will create opportunities for improvement to our state infrastructure and create jobs in the process. Putting good men and women back to work will have a major impact on Missouri families and the local businesses they support.
What is your stance on the right-to-farm constitutional amendment on the August ballot? Being raised in the heart of Missouri’s farm country and understanding the importance of agriculture to our economy, I support legislation to protect the rights of all farmers. I think farming in Missouri will be protected whether or not this constitutional amendment passes, but I still see no downside to its passing. Why not specifically mention farming in our state’s constitution? It’s an industry that is vital to our state’s economy.
What is your stance on the guns rights amendment on the August ballot? I firmly support any and all legislation which seeks to protect the right to bear arms. Further, this amendment identifies the right to keep ammunition and accessories pertaining to the normal function of firearms. This amendment clarifies that we as citizens of Missouri have the right to defend our families. The current wording of our state constitution says we have the right to protect our home, property and self but makes no mention of family. I believe this is a necessary amendment to protect the unalienable rights of all Missourians.
What question did we not ask that you would like to ask and answer? How do you plan to separate policy from party politics? As I have stated throughout my campaign, I am what may be referred to as an old Southern Democrat. I have the same strong conservative moral values as my constituents and will always attend to the will of the folks of Phelps and Crawford counties, putting the people over the party. I am running for state representative to give the people a voice without partisan persuasion. I will not let the letter after my name dictate decision making. I will stand up and be the voice for those who feel they are inadequately represented. I will never be afraid to cross party lines and pass common sense legislation!
Name: Jason Chipman
Current and previous employment: Inventory manager at Brewer Science (employed at BSI for 13 years); five years in the U.S. Navy before that, 4 and 1/2 of which was spent onboard the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy CV-67
Family: Married to wife, Elane; three boys - Alexander, Konnor and Xavier; one daughter on the way due in late September
Community service/voluntarism: I have helped at food pantries and various recycling events.
Previous elected offices (if any): None
Why are you running for the office of state representative? As a father of young children, I am deeply concerned about the state of Missouri while my children grow. They should be able to choose a future in Missouri because of the opportunities here. In Missouri, we should have the freedom to live, work, learn, worship and protect ourselves, now and forever. My purpose as state representative will be to protect those freedoms.
What are your qualifications for the office of state representative? According to Missouri statutes, you are qualified for the office of state representative if: you have paid your taxes, are not a felon, are at least 24 years of age, have been a qualified Missouri voter for two years and have lived in your district for at least a year. Our government was designed to be a citizen legislature, not a ruling class. I am running to keep it that way.
Why are you a better choice than your opponent for this office? I have been a leader at every level going back to elementary school and those experiences will serve our district well. Being younger, a recent college graduate and having children almost to school age, I believe I am more in tune with the educational environment. I have first-hand experience seeing waste and abuse while working for the government. My employment experience has required me to write policies and procedures. It has also allowed me the benefit of working with people from diverse backgrounds. I have experienced many of the same struggles as a lot of people in our district.
Please explain your stance on the Common Core academic standards: I am against Common Core standards because a one-size-fits-all approach to education, like many other things, will not work. Teachers and administrators must be able to adapt their methods and standards based on the resources at their disposal. Students' progress cannot be measured solely by a test. There are too many factors that are involved in a student's ability to learn to hold teachers accountable for their progress.
Please explain your stance on Medicaid expansion in Missouri: I am against Medicaid expansion in Missouri, as the system is presently constituted. Reforms must take place to take into account inflation, cost-of-living and access to affordable health care. The state could help alleviate some of the access issues by allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to have a larger role in primary care in rural areas.
What is your stance on the proposed three-quarters cent sales tax for transportation on the August ballot? As long as there is a plan and the ability to rescind the tax should the plan not be followed, I would be more open to it. The quality of our infrastructure is an essential part of making our area attractive to businesses and families.
What is your stance on the right-to-farm constitutional amendment on the August ballot? I am for the right-to-farm amendment. You should be able to make a living however you want, short of breaking the law or infringing on the rights of others. If a person doesn't agree with the products of current farming practices, they have the right to run their own farm however they see fit.
What is your stance on the guns rights amendment on the August ballot? I am for the gun rights amendment. The U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms and Missouri should be fully supportive of that right.
What question did we not ask that you would like to ask and answer? Another important amendment on the ballot that many do not realize is Amendment 9, which secures a person's electronic data and communications from unreasonable search and seizure. The proliferation of smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices means that our personal lives are often carried around with us. A law-abiding citizen has to be protected from even the hint of impropriety by the government and its officials. Privacy is one of our most important assets in a free society.
Name: Robert Mesger
Family: Married to Patty Mesger for 31 years; daughter, Amanda Mesger; granddaughters, Danielle Bay and Rylee Bay
Community service/voluntarism:Serving over 25 years as a volunteer fireman, serving on the Crawford County E-911 Board of Directors which supports the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department, Bourbon and Leasburg police departments, North Crawford County Ambulance, Steeleville Ambulance, Cuba, Steelville, Bourbon and Leasburg fire departments, serving on Franklin and Gasconade County Fire Association, served on the Franklin County Bomb and Arson Squad, presently serving on Peace Lutheran Church Board as vice president, serving on board of directors of the Meramec Community Mission-Food Pantry and Thrift Store, that serves three counties and member of the Masonic Lodge, Moose Lodge, Eagle Club Member and Odd Fellows Member.
Why are you running for the office of state representative? To support the community, to create new jobs, improve the infrastructure through improving roads and bridges, improve education and schools, improve health care for all and try not to increase taxes. I want to help the people who I serve and make the area I live a better place to live and work and to try to help create new jobs for the state of Missouri. I want to bring back manufacturing and industry jobs back to Missouri and work on new jobs for the state of Missouri.
What are qualifications for the office of state representative? I have been elected and held several positions including on private and public board of directors.
Why are you a better choice than your opponent for this office? I was born and raised in this area. I am familiar with the needs of the community. I have local ties to this community and my heart belongs to this community, and I will always be fighting to help my fellow citizens every day if I am elected to office. My opponent is not from this area and I feel that he does not have the needs of the community in mind, and therefore is less qualified.
Please explain your stance on the Common Core academic standards: I am in support of the Common Core.
Please explain your stance on Medicaid expansion in Missouri: I am in support of Medicaid expansion. Everyone should be entitled to health care.
What is your stance on the proposed three-quarters cent sales tax for transportation on the August ballot? I am in support of this sales tax. I feel that this tax will help improve the roads and bridges.
What is your stance on the right-to-farm constitutional amendment on the August ballot? I am in support of this amendment. I feel it is in the farmers’ best interest to pass this amendment.
What is your stance on the guns rights amendment on the August ballot? I am in support of this amendment. Everyone should have the right to own a gun, and they should not have to register it, or be told how many they can own or how much ammunition they can have.
What question did we not ask that you would like to ask and answer? An answer was not provided.