District 133 Candidates Talk Economic Growth, Education Plans for Area

Oct 26, 2016

In Southwest Springfield, voters will decide whether the 133rd District Seat in the Missouri House of Representatives will remain Republican, or change over to Democratic in a GOP stronghold.

Curtis Trent is the Republican nominee vying for this seat. It is currently held by Republican Eric Burlison, who is barred by term limits from seeking re-election.

Trent says, “I’m very passionate about our institutions and our traditional liberties and rights, and I just want to protect those kinds of principles and pass our state on to the next generation in a much stronger, better position than I found it in.”

Trent’s Democratic challenger, Jim Clemmons, says his leadership experience in volunteer roles such as with the AARP will enable him to serve the people.

“When the Democratic Party came to me and said you’re the kind of candidate we’d like to see run for this seat…I chose to get involved, so that’s why I’m doing it, and I’m doing it at my age to serve the people and  help humanity going forward.”

Background

Although neither candidate has been elected to public office before, both have experience working with government.

Curtis Trent
Credit Submitted Photo

Curtis Trent was a congressional aid for Congressman Billy Long. After practicing law for four years, he returned to Springfield to closer to his family. He was raised in the town of Ava, and he went to Missouri State University for his undergraduate degree with a major in Political Science and a minor in History. Then he attended St. Louis University for law school.

Jim Clemmons has business experience working with a Fortune 500 company, has served as the AARP State President for Missouri, and as the organization’s regional volunteer director for eight states in the Midwest. In each of these positions, he worked with the state and national legislature on senior issues. Clemmons is a retired resident of Battlefield, married for 53 years, and has two sons and three grandchildren.

Economic Growth

Job growth in Missouri is a major concern for both candidates, and they each have distinctive ideas for how to stimulate economic growth within the state.

Jim Clemmons
Credit Submitted Photo

Clemmons wants to focus on examining the leadership in Jefferson City, and by using his background in business to create a level playing field that would be conducive for business to prosper in Missouri.

“I would want the regulatory activity and the regulations that are set in place to be put in play for everyone so that it was a level playing field. Always felt when I was in the industry if a playing field was 100% level, then I had the capacity and the resources within the firm that was backing me to be successful.”

Trent prioritized what he wants to see changed in order to boost Missouri’s economy, especially work force development.

“We have a pretty big population here in the state of Missouri, but it seems like all too often the work force doesn’t match up skill-wise to the availability of jobs and makes it more difficult for us to attract out of state businesses to the state.”

Trent would also focus on fixing Missouri’s tax and regulatory system, and try to model it off other states that have a good system in place, listing Texas and Tennessee as examples.  

Education

Both Trent and Clemmons have firm stances on education, though both are concerned with different issues affecting education in Missouri.

Trent is a firm believer in abolishing Common Core, and his focus is on preparing students to enter the workforce and for education to “transmit the values of the republic onto the next generation.”

He says he wants schools to bring back the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and how the American government works into regular classes, so that when children grow up, they will be able to govern for themselves.

As for Common Core, Trent says “I think we should have strong standards, but they should be Missouri standards, and they should focus on the teachers, and the school board, the parents – those are the folks that know best how to educate a child.”

Clemmons, on the other hand, is more concerned about funding, mentioning various school districts in Missouri that can only afford to meet only four days a week due to lack of funding. He says his background in business would help him, if elected, to solve these funding issues.

“I would bring a business background to looking at schools, and would figure out ways to look at allocations of state resources to support the public school system.”

Clemmons states that if everything in Jefferson City revolves round allocations, then as a state representative he would push for public schools to be a top priority.

Southwest Springfield

Chestnut Expressway runs along the northern border of District 133, which expands south to include the growing southwest Springfield region along the James River Corridor. It also includes the neighboring city of Battlefield.

In their conversations with potential constituents, each candidate say they came across different issues affecting the community.

Clemmons notes public concerns over a good and fair government, and “they would like to see a very pro-business environment that produces good jobs throughout the district.”

Some other issues Clemmons heard about and will deal with if elected are creating good public school systems supported by the state, senior issues within the community, and defending and adhering to the Constitution.

Trent also noted that jobs was a major concern for the district, especially since it is a growing district with new houses and working families moving in. He also heard about needed improvements in the school system, but that funding should go towards individualized teaching for students and implementing a “longitudinal approach” to history to create ethical citizens.

Transportation is another issue within the district, says Trent.  

“Certainly when an area is growing, it needs to have good roads, there needs to be expansion in some places, and I think you see that around the state as well.”

Other Issues

Trent is a big proponent for creating an ethical legislature in Missouri. He wants to be available to citizens, and will have town halls to hear their concerns to bring change in the Missouri House of Representatives.

“Too often the government is trying to enact its own agenda instead of the people’s agenda.”

Trent would also like to change the way lobbying is effecting the government. He states that lobbying has become more than advocacy, and now insiders use their connections to gain favoritism from the government. He notes this is especially harmful when past officials become lobbyists, and he vows himself to never become a paid lobbyist.

Both candidates are concerned with raising taxes. Clemmons says when he talked with local citizens they were concerned that he would raise taxes due to his party’s stance.

Clemmons said that he would approach funding from an allocation standpoint first, and “look at how resources are allocated out, and look at places where you could cut expenses, and maybe reprioritize things to where the allocations are covering things such as public schools.”

Funding (As of Sept 30):

Trent, facing three other challengers in the August primary, brought in a campaign donations of nearly $90,000. The latest report ending Sept. 30 shows he had raised another $10,000 since the primary.

Clemmons, who was unopposed in August, shows he’s raised just over $1,300 since the primary.

More Information:

Curtis Trent: http://curtisdtrent.com

Jim Clemmons: No campaign website