Cindy Slimp has been busy going door to door over the last few months talking to voters. The Democrat is running against incumbent Republican, Curtis Trent, in the race for Missouri House District 133.
Slimp was raised by a single mom who she describes as a powerhouse with a big heart. They lived for several years with her grandparents on a small farm, and Slimp said her mom and grandparents worked hard to make sure the kids had everything they needed. But times were hard.
"Watching her struggle as we grew up--I know that she had missed many meals, and she would wait until we were finished eating until she had her dinner, and, you know, that problem still continues into today for many many families, and I think it's far worse now than it was back then."
Slimp works in IT doing software support for longterm care, in home care and hospice and before that was in restaurant management. She’s always had strong opinions and convictions about equality and quality of life for other people, she said, and she wants to make a difference.
"We have a super majority in the Missouri House, and, basically, we just don't really have the ability to pass any great legislation that's really helpful to the working folks, and I think that they're not heard nearly enough, so I'd just really like to get in there and help out," she said.
Curtis Trent grew up on a small farm near Ava in Douglas County.
"I had an ancestor that fought in the Battle of Wilson's Creek, so that kind of shows you how far back we go," he said.
He graduated with a degree in political science from what was then Southwest Missouri State University and went on to earn a law degree from St. Louis University. He practiced social security disability law in Springfield for awhile and served as deputy chief of staff for U.S. Congressman Billy Long. He’s served in the Missouri House for two years, taking over from Representative Eric Burlison who termed out.
He said his legal background has been an advantage during his time so far in Jefferson City. And he feels his job as chief of staff for Congressman Long, serving primarily in a policy advising role, prepared him for the Missouri Legislature.
"I did a lot of work on public policy, particularly in areas that mattered back here to Missourians. Congressmen, of course, deal with a lot of issues--foreign policy and so forth--but I was more focused on things like transportation infrastructure, tax policy, budgetary issues--things that really impact the home district and really translate very well to the state legislature," Trent said.
He’s most proud of getting House Bill 1880 passed, which he said expands broadband access in rural communities to individuals as well as places like schools, hospitals through rural electricity co-ops.
Cindy Slimp has no political experience, but she said that’s not a reason for someone not to vote for her. In fact, she feels it's better not to have that experience.
"We've got a lot of the good ol' boy system going on in the state government and the federal government, and I think it's time for that to end. You know, you don't need to go to law school. You don't need to major in political degrees to be able to hold office," she said. "I think that the most important quality that you need is to care about people."
One of her first orders of business if elected, she said, would be to push to get the Missouri No Discrimination Act passed.
"It's time that Missouri becomes a state that supports equal rights for all, and it needs to be brought up beginning of session," she said.
She opposes the corporate tax cuts that were passed by the Missouri Legislature last session because she said they take money away from programs that need it.
And she’s angry that Missouri continues to refuse Medicaid expansion.
"It's something that wouldn't have hurt Missouri taxpayers in any way, but, you know, we refused it, and now we've got, you know, kids that really could have benefitted from it, senior citizens, people with disabilities that really could have used that benefit, and we just said, 'no, we don't need it,'" she said.
She feels the greatest needs in District 133 are food insecurity and homelessness.
Curtis Trent said the greatest needs in District 133 are housing and economic development.
"You've got a lot of new housing being built in the 133rd at any given time," he said. "I think Springfield is developing in that direction right now. You see a lot of new businesses going in, so you need all the infrastructure for that, and you need the environment that further enables that activity to take place," Trent said.
Trent feels a lot of the problems in District 133 can be solved with robust economic growth and good paying jobs.
He said things are looking up “in many ways,” but workforce development is still a challenge. He feels higher education curriculum must be tailored to the jobs students will take after graduation.
"I think that the more we can do to integrate that process, to create opportunities for collaboration between business and educational institutions, the more we can streamline that process and the more we can create the workforce that business needs and, at the same time, create opportunities for students who want to be able to go out and immediately get one of those good-paying jobs that our economy is beginning to create," Trent said.
Missouri is positioned geographically to be the economic engine of the Midwest, according to Trent. But the right policy must be in place for that to happen.
Since Missouri is a crossroads state, he said infrastructure is “incredibly important.” The agriculture industry in the state depends on being able to export crops, according to Trent, and that’s often reliant on waterways and the railroad. He said being able to easily import goods to facilitate the agriculture industry in Missouri is equally important.
According to Trent, priorities are economic development, workforce development and a better tax policy to allow businesses to grow.
Cindy Slimp calls herself a progressive Democrat who won’t take corporate money and who supports women’s rights “to the full extent.” She doesn’t believe anyone should vote straight party and said she’d work with legislators on both sides of the aisle to make sure people have healthcare.
Voters will decide the District 133 House race and several other races and issues on November 6.
Click here to find information about campaign donations for both candidates.