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0000017b-27e8-d2e5-a37b-7fffd9f70000On November 8, Missourians chose their next governor, determined races for U.S. congressional seats and several for the Missouri statehouse. In addition, voters decided among five proposed changes to the Missouri constitution.See the election results here, and view our coverage below on the local candidates and issues. Post election, we're continuing to add to our coverage with related content.

House District 131 Candidates Share Views on a Variety of Topics

MO House District 131 Candidates (L-R): Arthur Hodge, Sonya Murray Anderson, Nate Branscom
Credit MO House of Representatives
District 131

Republican Sonya Murray Anderson has served in the Missouri House for four years, representing District 131. On November 8, she'll share the ballot with Democrat Nate Branscom and Libertarian Arthur Hodge.

The district covers part of northern Springfield and a largely rural area to the north.  

Interview with Sonya Murray Anderson

Interview with Arthur Hodge

The Candidates

Credit Sonya Murray Anderson
Republican Candidate for MO House District 131 Sonya Murray Anderson

Republican Sonya Murray Anderson, who was elected to her first two-year term in 2012, is a native of Northern Greene County.  According to Anderson, her family has lived in northern Greene County since the 1800's.  She's married with two grown sons and has been married to her "high school sweetheart" for nearly 27 years. Anderson said she grew up in the agricultural and business world.  Her family owned a sanitation company, and she worked her way up through the business, overseeing seven offices in southwest Missouri in accounts payable, "so I understand how a business works," she said.

Credit Nate Branscom
Nate Branscom

Democrat Nate Branscom describes himself as an artist and a musician.  He was born and raised in Springfield and has been involved with the arts and music scene since he was a teenager.  Branscom co-founded Make Springfield Weird, which promotes and encourages the community through art, music and culture.  He worked as a correctional officer for seven years at the Greene County Justice Center.  Since then he's been working a night job.  He said he's running because "I feel that if you want the job done right, do it yourself."

Credit Missouri Libertarian Party
Arthur Hodge

Libertarian Arthur Hodge is 70-years-old.  He grew up in a foster home in Mississippi, eventually joined the Army and stayed there for 20 years before retiring to Springfield "where I could have access to traveling in the center of the country," he said.  Since he came to the city in the 1980s he's worked a a police officer and a truant officer as well as a substitute teacher for Springfield Public Schools.  He's run for sheriff, circuit clerk and state representative as a Democrat and Republican.  He's since decided he's "more Libertarian than anything else."

Issues that Matter Most to the Candidates

Nate Branscom saw firsthand the effects of "impoverishment and general disenfranchisement" while working as a correctional officer, so poverty is an important issue to him.  Discrimination also concerns Branscom.  "We've been making huge strides in the past few years...and as much progress as we've made, there's still a long way to go," he said.  He believes making people more aware of those prejudices "is tantamount to a better society."  He's also concerned with the growing problem of drug addiction, especially prescription medication.  "We're the only state that has not implemented a prescription drug monitoring program," he said, "and that's only because of stubbornness in the state legislature."

Sonya Murray Anderson says issues important to her include "our freedom and liberty."  She said she's also a big advocate for agriculture.  "I want to make sure that we have the freedom to grow our own food and raise our own livestock without being burdened by unnecessary regulations," she said.  She believes in a common sense approach when it comes to regulations.  According to Anderson, one thing she hears from her constituents is that they want the state legislature to push back against the federal government.  "There's been a lot of mandates," she said.  "We've got a lot of issues coming down from the EPA."  And she said people are worried about their Second Amendment rights.  She said she's "very pro life" so she wants to make sure she does everything she can to protect the unborn.

Arthur Hodge wants to see changes in public education.  He feels that public education has become "more of a social institution instead of an educational institution."  Hodge said he would prefer that education be privatized or charter schools created so people have a choice.  And he'd like to see more of an emphasis placed on taking care of senior citizens.  "We need to have folks investigate those nursing homes," he said. "I have discovered, as Mr. Trump would say, 'the whole system is corrupted and it's so convoluted.'"  Hodge also wants the nation to stop criminalizing young people.  And he talked about his frustration with kids not getting discipline at home, which results in problems at school.  He's also "tired of being taxed to death."

The Candidates' Views on Medicaid Expansion

Arthur Hodge said he would like to see the poor "get free medical--period."  He said he believes people are making money off the poor instead of taking care of them.  "A lot of it started in our public schools back in the day, he said."  According to Hodge, schools and parents didn't prepare young people for the future, "so now we have to take care of them."  He said since "we can't throw them and toss them in a ditch just needs to be free."

Nate Branscom said, while he's not a fan of the ACA, "we have it, and with Medicaid expansion, we can close that gap between those who qualify for Medicaid" and those with health insurance.  He was in that hole a couple of years ago, he said.  He couldn't afford what he would have had to pay for Obamacare.  "There are many other Missourians that are facing that problem," he said, "and with Medicaid expansion, we can close that and ensure that everyone is qualifying for health insurance for a reasonable cost to them."

Sonya Murray Anderson called Medicaid expansion "a very controversial issue."  She said she understands people wanting healthcare.  But, while she wants to make sure everybody has access to affordable healthcare, "after looking at the budget and some of the things that are going on at the federal level, I just don't see how we could afford to do that right now," she said.  She called Obamacare "an enormous mess" and said she just doesn't see how Missouri can afford Medicaid expansion "and depend on the government to reimburse us."

Missouri's Roads and Bridges

Sonya Murray Anderson said the state's infrastructure is "a critical issue" and something the state legislature continues to look at.  She serves on a committee with the Policy Development Caucus and said they've been researching the issue.  "It's not going to be a one sweep solution," she said.  "We're going to have to look at it from different angles."  According to Anderson, one of the state legislature's priorities over the next couple of years will be how to improve funding for roads and bridges.

Arthur Hodge he feels the Missouri Department of Transportation is doing unnecessary projects and not addressing projects that need to be tackled.  "I'm trying to figure out, 'where is all the money going?'" he said.  The bridges, he said, are probably the first thing they need to address.  He was in Arkansas recently and said Missouri has better roads than some states, "but they can do better," he said.

Nate Branscom said the state's roads and bridges "definitely need to be fixed."  He also feels there are some sections of Missouri roadways that are repaired again and again "when there isn't, that I can tell, anything wrong with that particular section."  There are highways that have been outdated for years, according to Branscom, while other roadways get repaired every couple of years.  "And we're just throwing money away," he said.

The Environment

Nate Branscom said the state needs to implement more green energy.  "The coal industry is a dying industry," he said, "and when we have wind power and solar power and water power available to us at very reasonable prices, it's not for just the affluent anymore."  He's like to see self-sustainable homeless shelters that can teach skills to those living in the shelters.

Arthur Hodge talked about DDT in the south that affected him and other residents living there at the time.  "I don't think we're doing enough," he said when talking about environmental issues.  "We've got a lot of stuff to do," he said, "because who's going to tell us the truth?"

Sonya Murray Anderson said the environment is always a concern.  She said the Environmental Protection Agency sometimes gets "a little onerous in some of the things they want to do."  She pointed to when the EPA wanted to redefine what a navigable water is, "and for what we could tell that...would include every single pond, every single stream in the state."  She said the state legislature needs to have a common sense approach when it comes to environmental regulations.

Why Candidates Believe they'd be the Best Choice for Voters

Arthur Hodge said people should vote their conscience.  "I did not say I'm the great black hope," he said, laughing.  "If you believe in the Constitution and you believe that people should have more freedom, then I'm your man," he said.  Hodge said he loves people--all of them--and in his district everyone's the same.  "Everybody's special," he said.  And he believes his military background has prepared him to be a leader.

Sonya Murray Anderson said she cares about her constituents.  "This is where I grew up.  This is where my parents grew up.  This is where my children grew up, and this is where I hope my grandchildren grow up," she said.  And she said she listens to her constituents.  "I don't care what party you're from, if you're a voter or not, if you have an issue, you know, I take pride in serving my constituents," she said.  She also believes working at her family's business helped her learn how to be fiscally responsible.  She takes pride in her conservative record.

Nate Branscom said he's "very creative" and has very good problem-solving skills as well as drive.  "I care about every Missourian," he said.  "I care about every type of person, and I'm willing to actually try when I'm up in Jefferson City."  

Funding (as of October 27, 2016)

Sonya Murray Anderson had raised a total of $38,244, and Nate Branscom had raised a total of $3,236.  Arthur Hodge had filed an exemption statement of limited activity with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

More Information:

Nat Branscom:

Sonya Murray Anderson:

Arthur Hodge: