The Race to Jeff City: Missouri House District 140

Oct 19, 2018

Missouri’s 140th House seat covers the eastern portion of Christian County—including Ozark, Sparta, and Saddlebrooke. 

Three candidates are in the running here:  Republican incumbent Lynn Morris, Green Party candidate Robert Debbaut, and Democrat Tony Smith.

We catch up with Smith one afternoon as he’s canvassing a district neighborhood.

He says healthcare for senior citizens is a top priority.

Tony Smith, Democratic Candidate

Democratic Candidate-Tony Smith
Credit Courtesy of Tony Smith

“Seniors need to be taken care of, they worked hard their entire lives,” said Smith.

Smith says he’s worried that many can’t pay for their medicine or in-home health care. They’re seeing costs go up for supplemental insurance, he said.

“The state of Missouri turned down billions of dollars from the feds that could have been put to good use. 

Smith is retired—after nearly three decades in law enforcement.  He said he’d bring more “common sense” to Missouri’s safety laws.

“Right now, I believe in training if you want to carry a handgun--get your CCW license.  Learn how to respect law enforcement when you do get pulled over, learn what your responsibilities are going to be,” Smith said.

Smith says he’s committed to working across party lines, and feels his career in law enforcement taught him how to be diplomatic in tense situations.

Running on the Democratic ticket, he says his desire and hard work ethic comes from his mother, who worked multiple jobs at one time, then spent many hours volunteering in retirement.  His is a grassroots campaign, he said.

“I am running on a shoestring budget.  Most of my money is coming from $20 to $50 checks, bake sales, fund raisers and such—from the people and not corporations and that’s what I’m proud of.  I am just a regular person that wants to be heard for my friends, neighbors and relatives,” Smith said.

Robbert Debbaut, Green Party Candidate

Green Party Candidate-Robert Debbaut
Credit Courtesy of Robert Debbaut

The Green Party candidate in the 140th House race is Robert Debbaut.  He’s campaigning on increased wages, better healthcare, and women’s rights.

“Previous election experience has nothing to do with representing a group of people and being a strong voice and advocate for them,” says Debbaut.

A former educator and small businessman, Debbaut says public education funding would also be a top priority if elected.

“The state of Missouri’s education formula is flawed.  It does not equally distribute money to students.  It’s flawed.  You can’t say that you send all the money to Jefferson City and it all comes back to you if you live in the richest county in the state. It must be distributed equally,” states Debbaut. 

Debbaut feels Missouri should do a better job allocating its lottery funds.  And, he says, he’d protect the environment if elected.

“We have more and more of these cattle feeding operations that are putting 7,000 animals where only 700 should be.  They will create pollution; they will cause problems with water supplies.  I think anyone who is going to go to Jefferson City and represent rural Missouri, needs to represent the future of rural Missouri,” Debbaut explains.

Lynn Morris, Republican Incumbent

Incumbent-Lynn Morris (R)
Credit Courtesy of Lynn Morris

The incumbent is Republican Lynn Morris, who has served six years in the Statehouse. That means if he’s reelected this year, it will be his last term due to term limits.

“I’m an older gentleman that got into politics late.  I was on the school board in Ozarks for six years and really wasn’t planning on doing anything after that.   I decided I didn’t really like the way business were being treated—and citizens were being treated—and I decided to run for office,” Morris said.

He says he feels his accomplishments in office are the result of his ability to be able to reach across the political aisle. 

Morris attributes his business experience and master’s level education in healthcare administration as a strong background serving on House committees.  If reelected, he says he’ll be serving as the chair for the Health and Mental Health Committee in January.

“I believe everyone should be able to afford the basic insurance plan.  And that will be with pre-existing conditions, and that will be with the things we need with health insurance.  And then, as people have more money they can buy more options, just much like you buy more options on a car,” explains Morris.  

Improving the well-being of senior citizens is also a priority, he says.  You can see his legislative record on our website, www.ksmu.org.

I’m Theresa Bettmann.