Incumbent state Rep. Tom Hurst, of St. Thomas, is facing a challenge from Bruce Sassmann, of Bland, on the Republican ticket for the 62nd District seat in the Missouri House of Representatives in the Tuesday, Aug. 5, primary election.

Incumbent state Rep. Tom Hurst, of St. Thomas, is facing a challenge from Bruce Sassmann, of Bland, on the Republican ticket for the 62nd District seat in the Missouri House of Representatives in the Tuesday, Aug. 5, primary election.
The candidate who wins this August election will technically be the next state representative for the district, which takes in northern Phelps County, all of Maries County and parts of Miller, Cole, Osage and Gasconade counties.
There are no Democrats running for the seat in August or November.
The Rolla Daily News submitted questionnaires to the two Republican candidates for 62nd District state representative and their responses are below:

Name: Tom Hurst  
Age: 48
Current and previous employment: Current Missouri state representative for the 62nd District, lifelong farmer/livestock producer, current owners of Hurst Tax and Accounting (23 years) and accountant (25 years); Meta Fescue Seed Company (25 years); Meta Mini Mart (20 years); and owner of rental properties (25 years). I am a part owner of and auctioneer for Hurst Auction Service (26 years), Interstate Regional Stockyards in Cuba (18 years) and Miller County Regional Stockyards (five years).

Family: Wife, Staci, three children, Macey, Hayden and Emma.
Community service/voluntarism: Volunteer auctioneer and ringman for many benefits, fundraisers along with the Osage and Gasconade County 4-H, member of National Association of Tax Professionals, Missouri Cattlemen's Association, Westphalia Chapter Knights of Columbus, Fraternal Order of the Elks, charter member of National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Leadership Award, honorary co-chairman of the Business Advisory Council, Golden Key National Honor Society, Who's Who, Fraternal Order of the Eagles, Missouri Professional Auctioneers' Association, Missouri Professional Accountants' Association, Board of Governors with CRMC, past member of American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers, volunteer fireman and first responder, past volunteer with Veterans Hospital in Columbia.
Previous elected offices (if any): Current Missouri state representative for the 62nd District. I have served as city treasurer of Meta, president of the Meta MFA board for three years and vice president of Meta Fire and Rescue.

Why are you running for the office of state representative? I am running for re-election because of the concerns I had when I ran the first time and the continuing effort we need on the state level to protect Missouri. As a father, I am concerned about the future of my children. I want them, as all children, to have more opportunities than I had growing up. I love this area and want to preserve it for our children. We need to protect our children, including before birth. We need them to feel safe as they venture out into the world. They need to be given the best possible education and once that is achieved, hopefully they will use that knowledge to make the world an even better place. God has blessed me, and I think each one of you has made me a better person. I realize that maybe I have not thanked you all enough. Being your representative is a humbling experience and I appreciate the honor you have given me to serve you. You, your families and your thoughts are important to me. There comes a time in life that we realize we have a bigger responsibility to those around us. This campaign is not about all of the things I would like to see happen, but rather about the things you would like to see happen. Since representative means exactly that, “represent”; I feel that what “we” think as a district is what is most important, not what one person thinks. There are a lot of good people in this district and your voice deserves to be heard. I want to make a difference. I want to help us all. My priority list is the same as two years ago: God, my family, my district and my state, then me. I will try to be better and make this district better for all of us. I am here for you. You are the reason I am doing this. Working together we can make anything happen.
What are your qualifications for the office of state representative? I have been your Missouri state representative for the last two years. The learning curve is steep and the challenges, demanding. I have traveled thousands of miles, worked thousands of hours, acquired a few more gray hairs but have met and worked with some of the best people in the world. The issues are not always Republican versus Democrat, but sometimes urban versus rural. For me it is always right versus wrong. It is not easy, but the more information I can acquire, the better decisions I can make. I do not know everything, but I have access to many that are specialists in their fields, and their cooperation has been a tremendous asset for our district. This is a joint effort when good people are willing to get involved. I believe in a transparent government; every bill I support, every vote I take is open to the public. Since elected, I have not missed one vote that I am aware of, and I do not “walk.” You did not put me in office to only make the easy decisions but rather to take a stand on difficult ones. With all the meetings and activities I have attended, I have seen so much genuine caring and some of the biggest hearts anywhere. It not only humbles me, but it makes me sincerely proud to serve the people in this district and solidifies the feeling I have of continuing to want to work hard to serve the people of District 62. I have always considered this a 24/7 job, and I put my representative job first before the campaign and other interests. If you know anyone in the Capitol, ask them about me. I stand on my record, I am not for sale and I vote for my district and the state, not for special interests that wish to "own" legislators. You expect me to do my job, and that is what I intend to do.
Why are you a better choice than your opponent for this office?    
I refuse a negative campaign and saying I am better or more qualified than anyone is not the way I was raised. Talk is cheap and action gets results. I have respect for anyone who has gone through an election process and I appreciate when people are willing to get involved. Before I won my first election, I told my opponents that if I won I would then be working for them in so much as by winning I became the servant. It does not make me better than anyone else; it just gives me more opportunities to do good for our state. My opponent is also my constituent, and I do not want anyone in my district to think that I am working against my constituents. We lift ourselves up by accomplishing our goals, not by stepping on or putting down others.   
Please explain your stance on the Common Core academic standards:
As I heard hours of testimony on the Common Core standards, it became apparent that there was two issues involved in the debate. One had to do with the privacy of our students and their data; the other was out-state interests coming into our state and telling us what is best for us without input from our local schools. There are things within Common Core that I can appreciate: standardized testing across the states. The test in Common Core would be the same in Missouri as other states. This would give our students the opportunity to show the nation just how well they are doing in comparison. There are things within Common Core that I do not like. One is the privacy issue. I do not want our children tracked to the point that the government dictates what our children will be when they grow up. I want our children to be whatever they want to be and have the opportunities available to achieve their goals. I also do not want outsiders telling our local schools what is best for them. This year in the House, a group of us had a meeting to determine what might be the best solution to this issue. What was decided was since Common Core has been phasing in and the schools have already spent money on the textbooks and materials, it could be financially detrimental to them if we told them in the middle of their school year to throw everything out and start over. Instead, we determined that we would not enforce the Common Core, but rather implement the Missouri Standard. This is a process whereby for the next two years, schools and interested parties can study what is happening in our schools and decide what is best. Based on those studies, we hope to have the best of all worlds whereby we use what we like in the Common Core Standards but reject what we do not. We then arrive at our own set of standards, the "Missouri Standard.” We want what is best for our students and schools and we think that the people of Missouri should be the ones to decide that, not the federal government. I have tried to summarize a complicated issue, so if anyone needs more information, please contact me.

Please explain your stance on Medicaid expansion in Missouri:
Probably the most discussed issue I have encountered. At 2,700 pages and growing, over 35 amendments, over 20 tax increases and other "buried" issues, the ACA is hard to keep up with as it is constantly changing.   have yet to meet anyone who fully understands it and things I have seen in it scare me. With information both for and against, I have yet to see where it will actually work. "You have to pass it to see what's in it" is not a responsible way to look at this legislation. For the last two years I have listened and watched what other states are doing to implement expansion but have yet to see it work as planned. Normally their projections are wrong and it is more expensive than estimated. Now they wonder how to pay for it. It is not free and can get expensive quickly. The expansion could cost states such as New York as much as $52 billion over 10 years, and taxpayers in states as diverse as Florida and Kansas could be hit with $20 billion in new taxes by 2022. The high initial federal subsidies might seem too good to pass up, but the eventual cost of putting this into effect, especially with the innumerable strings attached, would most likely lead to unsustainable growth in Medicaid spending in the coming years. The federal government cannot guarantee funding. When you look at the statistics, they indicate people are not getting better care in states that have expanded. Also, when 75 percent of the people added under the expansion are individuals who have no children, is this who you thought it would help? I do not think Missourians or Missouri will be better off by implementing expansion at this time. Reform must happen first. I want good medical care for everyone, but I am not convinced this is the correct way to do it. My recommendation to the federal government would be to stop this action, go back to the table, review the facts of what has happened, and determine if this is a responsible program. On all issues, it is important to keep an open mind and not be controlled by emotion or opinion; we need good solid facts. This is another complicated issue that cannot be justly covered in a few paragraphs, so again I am here to keep an open mind and learn more.
What is your stance on the proposed three-quarters cent sales tax for transportation on the August ballot?
I like the idea of putting this issue in front of the voters. I want you to have a say in your government and what we do. Options to increase fuel taxes, sales taxes on food, income taxes or put in toll roads did not have the support needed to pass both chambers. This is the only proposal that could get through both the House and Senate. It is an increase in taxes. I do not support increasing taxes, but this decision will be made by the voters, not the Legislature. Some say we should fund roads and bridges only, and not biking trails (even though it’s 1 percent or less of the total). I agree, but in the cities where people bike rather than drive, this does save fuel and wear on the roads if they bike instead of drive. This is a lot of money but costs normally go up over time and the projects presented will not get cheaper and the longer we wait, the worse the situation will get. You can see the list of projects by searching Missouri Department of Transportation online. If it passes, MoDOT will have money to improve our infrastructure and also allow us to meet the federal match money needed for Missouri. With the project list, we can hold MoDOT accountable to build the projects. With a 10-year sunset, after 10 years the voters will decide if it continues. The bill also gives money to counties for projects they need on the local level. If we do these projects, we should have thousands of new jobs for the state and have an infrastructure capable of taking care of our needs into the future to be competitive in attracting businesses to the state. This is an economic development tool that can help businesses and individuals alike. Missouri is in a great location, but we need folks to be able to get here and get around when they do. MoDOT's budget is about half of what it was at one time. "Right sizing" their department has helped meet maintenance goals. Rumble strips and thinking outside the box has allowed them to keep our roads as safe as possible without overspending for unneeded luxuries. I can tell you personally that this department has been very open and willing to work with me on issues that have popped up around the district. This measure does not give them money to waste, but rather money to make the improvements so many Missourians have asked for over the years. The outcome of this vote will tell the Legislature what you think about the ideas that come out of legislation. There is responsibility if it does pass, and if it doesn't pass, we will need to look at other solutions. We cannot give up. I think reform and decreasing abuse of government services would help open up more revenues for things to happen in Missouri, but that takes time and does not have a projectable flow that we can count on consistently. Remember, this will be up to you to decide at the polls, so please vote. It is important for me to know your views.

What is your stance on the right-to-farm constitutional amendment on the August ballot?
I will be supporting this amendment. I am honored that I received the “Freshman Legislator of the Year Award on Agricultural Issues.” I am pro-agriculture and it frustrates me that we have to put an amendment in the Constitution to protect people's ability to farm and ranch. I am disappointed and mad that extreme, out-state special interest groups come to Missouri and try to dictate to us what our way of life should be. What’s next? Will we need an amendment to guarantee our right to be construction workers, truck drivers, teachers, doctors, etc.? I always just took it for granted that people understood the importance of agriculture and would support it because “we all need to eat.” Unfortunately, these outside interests would like for agriculture to be banned in one shape or form, or completely. I often wonder if these groups have ever thought through the result if they were to actually win; we all die from starvation. Given that, as a Legislature we are merely trying to protect people's right to do what they have always done, farm. Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in the state of Missouri. It seems to me that this amendment issue is being overanalyzed. If passed, you should not notice any change in how you operate. This amendment does not give agriculture the right to do anything and everything. Regulations, laws and ordinances must still be followed. Just as the right to bear arms does not give you the right to kill anyone you want; right to farm does not allow you to do anything and everything just by saying you are farming. The large corporations already have their staffs of lawyers, but the small farmer in Missouri cannot afford expensive lawyers. One lawsuit can put a small producer out of business. We want them to be able to continue what they do, farm.  

What is your stance on the guns rights amendment on the August ballot?
I will be supporting this amendment. I am a firm believer in protecting our Second Amendment rights.  Again, we should not have to do this amendment, but again there are those who want to take our rights from us and we are saying that the Second Amendment is here to stay. The National Rifle Association has endorsed me in this campaign as my voting record speaks for itself. The Second Amendment means exactly what it says, that the people’s individual right to be armed will be respected and that the resulting armed populace will be secure against tyranny, invasion and crime. We must not forget that in order to maintain a free state, we, the people, must guard the right to keep and bear arms. Armed citizens are how we keep the government honest. It is not an amendment aimed at hunters; it is aimed at me, your elected official. If I am not doing my job, you not only have a right, but an obligation to remove me from office. I do not want you to shoot me, but if government tries to take our freedoms from us, we must be able to carry out our mission to preserve our unalienable rights which have been given to all human beings by their Creator, and for which governments are created to protect.
What question did we not ask that you would like to ask and answer?    
I believe I have used enough of your space, but suffice it to say that there is a huge amount of questions I have yet to ask. Speaking with those I meet throughout the district, those discussions lead to questions and answers to problems that arise on a daily basis. I appreciate the participation and cooperation I have received from all walks of life that, like me, want Missouri to be a better place. I will continue to ask and I will continue to find answers. Again, please vote. Whether you are for or against these issues, it is important that you exert your right to vote. Your vote does make a difference. This is one time where you have just as much power as the president and every member of Congress. Your vote is just as powerful as theirs when it comes election time, so make the best of it.

Name: Bruce Sassmann
Age: 63
Current and previous employment: I am recently retired from the family owned funeral business.
Family: Married.
Community service/voluntarism: I am currently a member of Meramec Regional Development Corporation, Gasconade County Industrial Development Corporation and a Regional Workforce and Investment Board.
Previous elected offices (if any): Former mayor and city councilman.

Why are you running for the office of state representative? I can make a difference. I believe in less government intervention in our personal lives and I believe I can best begin to defend that position in the state Legislature.

What are your qualifications for the office of state representative? Crazy question. Everyone is eligible to run for the office of state representative if they are at least 24 years old, a qualified voter of the state for two years and a qualified voter of the district he or she would represent for one year. The position is not based on level of education, religion, color of skin, sex, political affiliation or a perfect appearance. Would you want it to be any other way?

Why are you a better choice than your opponent for this office? I am older and hopefully wiser. I am not distracted by other burdensome business interests and responsibilities, and my philosophy is in opposition to my opponent's personal and special interest.

Please explain your stance on the Common Core academic standards: I believe Common Core suppresses personal choice and individual creativity. I also believe Common Core suppresses creativity in the whole educational process. I believe in more local control and less standardization.

Please explain your stance on Medicaid expansion in Missouri: The expansion of Medicaid will create a future financial burden on Missouri taxpayers. It dumbs down the individual’s obligation of personal responsibility. I believe it is better to be dependent on each other rather than being dependent on the government.

What is your stance on the proposed three-quarters cent sales tax for transportation on the August ballot? Our first priorities should be public safety programs, money for road and bridges, and money for education. The money that’s left over could and should be used to support family services, social services and the disability and welfare programs. In Missouri however, the welfare state is driving the bus. This priority takes the lion’s share of Missouri resources and there is never enough money left over for public safety, roads and bridges, and education. Our choice is simply changing our priorities or paying more taxes.

What is your stance on the right-to-farm constitutional amendment on the August ballot? I am glad the right-to-farm has a broad appeal to Missouri citizens. Of course the agriculture communities support it but also there is broad support from our many conservation groups in Missouri. I think it will pass by a large margin.

What is your stance on the guns rights amendment on the August ballot? I support all constitutional provisions that defend and protect all of our constitution.

What question did we not ask that you would like to ask and answer? What philosophical differences do you have with your opponent? My opponent has proven himself to be a special interest politician which is fundamentally wrong for a nation to remain indivisible.