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The mid-term election is Tuesday, and one of the most passionately-fought races is for Missouri’s 7th Congressional seat. Three men are in the race: Republican Billy Long, Democrat Scott Eckersley, and Libertarian Kevin Craig. KSMU invited all three candidates to talk about where they stand, and what they’d do if elected. This morning, we hear from Democrat Scott Eckersley.
Moore: How, and please if you can, be specific, do you intend to bring more jobs to Missouri?
Eckersley: You know, I’ve talked with the president of OTC (Ozarks Technical Community College) and a few other community leaders, including some folks attending the Southwest Area Manufacturer’s Conference. Schools like OTC and other trade organizations have really made this an attractive place for companies to move.
Workforce development programs that come out of high schools and that train for a year and such in college have attracted that attention. And so, I think furthering that and continuing to make southwest Missouri attractive to manufacturing companies [is key]. These are skilled jobs. These are wages you can raise a family on. I think we need to be aggressive and make sure that southwest Missouri is true to its workforce.
[Also,] the credit situation, the credit crunch all across America right now is affecting what our small business community is able to do. It’s taking longer than ever for small business loans to be approved.
I’d rather fix it on the regulatory end because what I’ve seen, so far, are new requirements for insurance and new reserve requirements that are just making it very difficult. But…whichever way it can be fixed the fastest, the quickest, the most efficiently, and I’m guessing that’s a regulatory fix.
Moore: Where do you stand on the issue of abortion?
Eckersley: I’m a pro-life candidate. I’ve got an opponent who doesn’t believe in any exceptions—meaning a 12-year-old who’s a victim of a violent crime, a rape, he would require her to carry to full term, that baby. I’m a pro-life candidate, but I do believe in exceptions in cases of rape, incest, and maternal health. I’ll oppose abortion except in those instances.
Moore: What issues within the federal health care legislation that were passed do you support, and which ones would you want to do away with?
Eckersley: I think it’s great that we finally, with the pre-existing conditions, that people are able to change a job nowadays and not fear losing their insurance over pre-existing conditions. Children staying on their parents’ insurance policies is another strong, innovative solution that carries a zero fiscal note—it doesn’t cost anybody anything. In fact I helped work on that in Missouri, on House Bill 118. We had that in place here in Missouri before the federal government ever looked at it.
Moore: Where has the majority of your money come from for your campaign?
Eckersley: It’s come from individuals. It’s come out of my own pocket, and individuals across the region, across the state, across the country. We made a concerted effort early on—I put over 100,000 dollars into this race because I didn’t want to feed at the trough of special interests like my opponent has…
Moore: A hundred thousand, of which was won from a settlement with the state, correct?
Eckersley: Uh, yeah, but…a hundred thousand that I could have bought a sports car with, and chose not to. I thought it would be better used in funding a race that relying on special interest dollars tends to cheapen, and tends to slowly sell out the interests of this district and our home for the special interests in Washington, D.C.
Moore: What’s your record of bipartisanship?
Eckersley: You know, I’m somebody who walks down the middle of the road in terms of political parties, meaning I don’t really ascribe to the far right or far left, and I think my stances on issues have shown that.
I think one example would be just the fact that, early on, I came out and said I would not have voted for this health care bill. I’ll make some folks on the left upset, and sometimes I’ll make some folks on the right upset. But I think staying in the middle and doing that what is best for the country, and more importantly, best for southwest Missourians, is something that has been lost on elected officials.
Moore: You’re running for a job that would require you to create law based on a few things, one of which is the Constitution--law that would not contradict with the Constitution, at least. So I assume you’re at least somewhat familiar with the Constitution. Can you at least tell me what Section 1 of the Constitution deals with?
Eckersley: Section 1 of the Constitution deals with the rights and powers the federal government has over the folks, not only here in southwest Missouri, but across the country. So, I do think it’s important to take a look at what our Founding Fathers drafted, what they intended. And I think in a strict Constructionist argument, it’s important to really delve into, when we’re considering making new laws, to consider whether or not we’re crossing boundaries that have been set by the Constitution.
Moore: Scott Eckersley, candidate for Congress in Missouri’s 7th district, thank you very much.
Eckersley: Thank you, Jennifer.
Eckersley also said if elected, he would re-evaluate where America’s foreign aid goes. He said he believes aid should be conditional, meaning that countries that receive money from the US should be expected to act in a way that is in America’s best interests, including America’s top recipient of foreign aid, Israel.
You can hear an interview with the Libertarian party candidate, Kevin Craig, at 4:30 Monday afternoon (Nov.1) on KSMU.
KSMU made requests to the Republican candidate, Billy Long, over the course of a week.
On Friday morning, a spokesperson for Long, Royce Redding, said if KSMU provided the questions we would ask Long in advance, there was a chance we might be able to interview him.
Redding was informed that KSMU does not submit questions prior to any interview. Long did not get back to us by the news deadline.
For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.