This edition of the KSMU Sense of Community Series highlights the race for Missouri House District 135, with Democrat challenger Rob Bailey facing the incumbent, Republican Steve Helms. District 135 is generally defined as east Springfield, with Kearney Street to the north, Sunset to the south, and with National Avenue and some of Campbell Avenue to the west.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Steve Helms: "My name is Steve Helms, and I'm the Representative of the 135 District. I was born in North Carolina.
When I was a young child, my parents moved to Sarasota Florida, where I grew up. I met my wife. I joined the military, and they moved me to Fort Campbell Kentucky and we lived at Clarksville Tennessee for 4 years. I was RECON Platoon, so I was attached to HQ Company in the 101st. Then, I volunteered to be an Army recruiter. And then the military, in their infinite wisdom, moved me to lovely Springfield Missouri. When I left the military in 1996, I thought, what is the best opportunity to provide for my family?, and that was to start a business. I had done home repairs and remodeling when I joined the military, and so that’s what I decided to do afterwards. I bought a couple of businesses later on, and so I’ve been a serial entrepreneur since I was elected to my first office in 2008. We’ve got 3 kids, and all of our kids were raised in this area.”
Rob Bailey: “My name is Rob Bailey. I grew up in Springfield, and am the oldest of 7 kids, in a mixed family. I’ve lived here all my life. I went to Sunshine Elementary, Bingham Elementary, Jarret Jr. High, and Kickapoo High School. I graduated from Missouri State University, and got my Masters at MSU, taught at MSU, and worked in healthcare for Johnson & Johnson for 15 years. Prior to that, I worked a couple of years for a durable medical equipment company. Prior to that, I was in the wholesale wine and spirits business. I worked all the time all through college and high school, and have tried to instill that same work ethic into my 3 kids. I lived at Sunshine and Jefferson when I was a kid, but now I live in Rountree and own Homegrown Food, which is a small neighborhood store. That’s who I am.”
Q: Why are you running for this House seat?
Rob Bailey: “I don’t think we’re well represented at the State level, when you look at the Missouri House, and the
Missouri Senate. Democrats don’t even have to show up, for the Republicans to have a quorum, and I think that leaves a lot of people out of the mix. The Democrats are not going to win the Missouri House or Senate this year, but we can still have a voice and say, But Wait! We Have a Chance to Have Discussions Around These Issues. And that’s really the essence of why I’m running. It’s not for $35,000, it’s not for $115.00 per-diem. It’s because we need to have a voice.”
Steve Helms: “The reason I’m running for re-election is I thinks we’ve done a good job. You look at the economy, the economy is growing. We have less unemployment than we did 2 years ago. If the policies we’ve enacted over the last 2 years weren’t working, then perhaps it would be time for a change, but obviously the policies that we’ve set over the last 2 years are working, because the economy is growing, we fully funded education, and I believe we are making huge strides in healthcare. So we’re doing what works, and so why would you want a change when what’s happening now, works?”
Q: What is most urgently needed in Mo. House District 135?
Steve Helms: “Education, healthcare, and the economy. Education; we’ve fully funded K-12 education, only the 2nd time in Missouri history, this has been done. Healthcare; I truly believe we can have a good healthcare system, without having the government take it over. The economy; we’ve got a lot of jobs out there, but what we need are better paying jobs. Government can’t force that, but it can continue that economic policies work toward that.”
Rob Bailey: “Healthcare and education funding. When you look at the economics of Springfield and the 135th, I think we should fund education, I think we should fund healthcare. I’m for Medicare expansion. I also see a need for increased diversity in 135. The lack of diversity is a huge thing, but is this where professionals want to raise their kids? We need to have those folks here. When you bring those professionals to town, from an economic standpoint that raises the standard of living for everybody.”
Q: What separates you from your opponent in the race for Missouri House District 135?
Rob Bailey: “I will go to resume. I’m a businessman, not a career politician. I’m at that age in my life where I don’t have to worry about term limits. I’m not here for the long-term, I’m here to go up and have a voice. I think I’m more capable of speaking ng to the issues that face most of our citizens. In terms of resume, I’m a Springfield native. I’ve been here forever, and know intimately the healthcare environment and the education environment. I know the MSU campus quite well. I think when you look at the issues that face most of the citizens here; I’m on the right side. It’s the little things like that which add up in totality to make it a better case for my resume, than for my opponents resume.”
Steve Helms: “I know very little about my opponent, he’s put out very little information, but what I do know is that it appears as though he supports what I call the failed policies of before, including government trying to intervene and drive the market. I think again, you have to allow the market t be like the environment; it has to grow organically. Forcing businesses and people to behave in specific ways has not worked over the last 8 years, before we had a change in Administrations. The best thing I would say is, we are on track with a growing economy. We’ve fully funded education. Why would you want to change when things are going so well now? So what we need to do is stick with what works."
The general election is Tuesday, November 6th.