Priorities For House District 134 Candidates Include Addressing Education, Ethics
Three candidates are vying for representation of the state's 134th House District this general election. That includes incumbent Rep. Elijah Haahr, who is seeking his third term in the Missouri House. He’s challenged by Democratic candidate Angela Pryor and Daniel Romine, a Libertarian.
The 134th District encompasses parts of south central and southwest Springfield, spanning north to south from Phelps Grove Park to the James River and bordering Golden Avenue to the east and Campbell Ave to the west.
Both Pryor and Romine sat down with KSMU to share their views ahead of the Nov. 8 election. Hear their interviews below. Rep. Haahr did not respond to multiple requests for an interview.
According to his campaign website, Rep. Haahr is an attorney with Aaron Sachs and Associates, with a focus on workers’ compensation and civil litigation. He was raised in southwest Missouri. After graduating from MU Law School in 2008 and passing the Missouri Bar Exam, he returned to Springfield. Haahr is married with two children.
Pryor was born in Springfield and grew up in Branson. In the early 2000s, work took her and her husband to various cities before they were able to resettle in Springfield three years ago. Pryor has worked in business management for most of her adult life. She recently began working in nonprofit, and currently advocates for healthcare with Planned Parenthood. Pryor and her husband have two children.
Romine is a member of the Air Force Reserve. Including domestic assignments, he’s been deployed six times. Romine says over an extended period of time he was able to balance his military commitments whiling earning a degree in industrial management with a minor in city planning. He is also the son of Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington. Romine is married with three children.
The topic, according to Daniel Romine, is what sparked him to further engage in the democratic process and eventually seek office, he says.
“In 2002 I was a Republican that rebelled against the big funding cuts from education. It was at a time when t they were also doubling their expense accounts… I saw a chink in the logic of the Republican Party.”
Without hesitation, Romine says education is the core concern of district citizens. His focus, if elected, is to retain and enhance the existing quality of the local system. Romine says while existing resources are already lacking, there’s a safety element that needs addressed when it comes to facility maintenance.
Rep. Haahr, according to his campaign website, states “He will work to ensure that Missouri remains a national leader in educating its citizens for tomorrow’s job market.”
Pryor says Missouri has “lowered the goal posts” on education funding.
She notes, “I think Springfield schools in effect are looking at a $15 million loss in their budgets. So we need to change our approach with our schools and make that a priority again in our state.”
Romine says the ethics reform that came out of the latest legislation session was minimal, and he has concerns over the amount of money going to his competitors. That includes, according to Romine, money from outside the district to support Republican incumbent Elijah Haahr.
“What is their voice that they’re pushing him to do that every time you see a billboard or a commercial or a sign, that didn’t come from our voice – that’s someone else’s interest,” says Romine.
He also shared concerns with large donations to any candidate coming from a single person, adding that it “needs to be more regulated.”
Pryor expressed a similar view, noting the influence of big donors like St. Louis financier Rex Sinquefield.
“I think most people are aware that we have one individual in a state that has put over $45 million into the pockets of our politicians in the last eight years. And when that’s going on representation is not happening.”
Pryor continued, “I’ve worked long enough in my life that I can take a lesser salary and do this and fulfill my civic duty.”
Under ethics on Rep. Haahr’s website it states, “The strength of the government is built upon the trust of its citizens. Therefore Elijah has a two part plan for strengthening the ethics rules of the Missouri government. He will fight for transparency and accountability in Missouri elections.”
Pryor says inaction on the healthcare front in our state is troubling, especially considering local industry and hospitals have expressed support for Medicaid expansion.
“And then people are very concerned about their healthcare costs. And a lot of that comes from our legislation itself as well because they have not done their job to get the correct rules in place for our state to conform with the Affordable Care Act,” says Pryor.
Pryor adds that some citizens in the district have expressed to her concern over legislation expanding gun owner’s rights. This past session, the Missouri Legislature passed SB 656 (and later override the governor’s veto) Constitutional Carry and so-called “Stand your Ground” laws. The first measures allow for conceal carry without a license. The latter allows people to defend themselves with a firearm without retreating first. Previous law stipulated a duty to retreat first.
“Several of them have expressed it makes them feel less safe. I would assume that our legislators would be trying to create the opposite of that and legislate in a way that would make people feel more safe.”
She also wants to see more cohesion between legislators of different parties.
“I don’t think the moderate policies of Democrats and Republicans are all that different. We need to look at candidates, not party. We need to get people in Jefferson City that want to listen to constituents.” says Pryor.
Romine says District 134 offers a good commercial environment for business, as does most of the city of Springfield. He’d like to see more support of small businesses, by way of tax breaks during their initial stages to ensure success.
Acknowledging he’s running for office in a largely GOP-represented region, Romine says it’s not about changing minds but defining the voters’ mindset by working towards solutions on the issues they raise.
“Many of the things that those people in the Republican Party have been wanting for our government to do; to be pro small business and having a morale stance on things, hasn’t happened,” says Romine.
He continued, “If the Republican Party isn’t going to do its job, and they’ve had a supermajority control over the assembly, then we’re gonna have to do something different.”
Rep. Haahr lists a number of stances he favors on his website, including rolling back regulations to stimulate economic growth, fighting to protect property rights, a strong proponent of Second Amendment rights, a low rate and simple tax system and a strong supporter of the right to life.
The incumbent’s website does have a page dedicated to his stance on pro-life measures, noting his sponsorship of HB 1252 which prevents coerced abortions from occurring. He also voted against allowing taxpayer money to go to organizations that support abortion services.
Funding (As of Sept 30):
Haahr led the way in campaign contributions as of Sept 30, with over $243,000 received from donors.
Through that same period, Pryor has just over $7,800 in donations.
Romine has not been actively seeking campaign contributions.
Elijah Haahr: http://supportelijah.com/
Angela Pryor: http://pryorforthepeople.com/
Daniel Romine: No campaign website listed