Candidates connect with constituents at second chamber forum

Pam Murray (left) and Jeanie Riddle (right) address questions Monday night during the Kingdom of Callaway Chamber of Commerce candidates' forum in Holts Summit.

Pam Murray (left) and Jeanie Riddle (right) address questions Monday night during the Kingdom of Callaway Chamber of Commerce candidates' forum in Holts Summit. Photo by Dean Asher.

— About 45 Callaway voters crammed into the Holts Summit Civic Center Monday night for the sequel to the Kingdom of Callaway County Chamber of Commerce’s candidate forum in Fulton last week.

Voters heard from 12 candidates for six county positions up for grabs at the Nov. 6 election. Candidates were asked two questions each on the positions they were running for and issues they anticipated they’d face.

Missouri Representative

Candidates for Callaway’s representative to the Missouri House, Republican incumbent Jeanie Riddle and Democratic hopeful Pam Murray, were the first up to bat. Both vocally supported bringing small modular nuclear reactors to the county.

“I don’t think Callaway County or the community should do anything to oppose the plant,” said Murray. “Almost everyone in the community has been working very hard for this, and it’s very unfortunate that for over four years we’ve been talking about legislation to help Ameren bring them to Callaway County and yet nothing has happened.”

Murray touted that all presiding county commissioners in the area had been rallying to get the reactors in the area, and that Callaway was positioned for the “single largest economic development project.”

Riddle said it was a matter of making sure Callaway was prepared to make the process go as smoothly and successfully as possible, citing that the reactors would bring thousands of jobs.

“We have a number of things we need to do in order to make sure that Callaway positions itself well,” said Riddle. “One of the things we need to look at is to make sure… we don’t allow monies that will cone in to escape to other states. I’ve spoken with community leaders involved… and one of the things spoken about is a new road to get equipment, supplies and people in and out.”

Murray said that education was the main platform of her campaign and would be a major legislative topic in her career if elected. She further elaborated on the need to fix or adjust the school foundation formula, which she said creates unequal funding for urban and rural schools in the state if it is not adequately funded.

“The single most important need is education. Public education has not been fully funded in Missouri for a number of years,” Murray said. “In the last legislative session, an additional $5.3 million was put into education, but Callaway Count schools all lost money… and I think that is unacceptable.”

Riddle said education was also an important subject to her. She said she didn’t like the foundation formula and that the state needed to find a new way to fund schools, but that funding also went down to Callaway schools in part due to their lower daily attendance rate for the past school year. Riddle also said jobs and Missouri’s economy were important to her as a candidate.

“Obviously, people need to get back to work. People want jobs and want to be able to support their family,” Riddle said. “One of the things we can do is help current business owners be able to operate in this environment of uncertainty. Part of that is letting them know what’s coming up for them… In Missouri, we can remove some of that unnecessary red tape holding them back.”

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