Although she was unopposed in Tuesday's general election, Rep. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane, campaigned hard and garnered 98.42 percent of the vote in her 20th District of the Missouri House, which includes Fulton and the southern part of Callaway County.
"I campaigned because I wanted to learn the views of people in my district," Riddle said. "I can't represent them effectively if I don't get input from the citizens of Callaway County."
"I've had my career as a teacher and I've raised my children. Running for office wasn't on my bucket list of things to do. I was asked by many people to run for state representative. I'm humbled that the citizens of Callaway County have invested in me with their vote. So now that I am a state representative I want to go all out and represent the people of Callaway County the best I possibly can," Riddle said.
Riddle and Mike Kehoe, who was elected as Callaway County's Sixth District Missouri senator, were both unopposed Republicans. They joined five other Callaway County Republican candidates who also won Callaway County offices in Tuesday's general election.
Riddle said she couldn't recall a time when Republicans held so many elected county officials in Callaway County. When next year rolls around, Republicans in Callaway will control the presiding commissioner, county clerk, circuit clerk, recorder, and prosecuting attorney. Joining them will be current Republican Western District Commissioner Doc Kritzer, whose term expires in two years. "This will give us a bigger stick to shake to take care of Callaway County," Riddle said.
Riddle said she wants to meet with the newly elected Callaway County office holders to learn how she can help meet the legislative needs of office holders. Riddle said she wants to know how county officials want to approach Callaway County's impending automatic switch from first class status to second class based on assessed valuation.
Riddle said if county officials want to stay as a first class county, she needs to know what legislative proposals they may want to pursue to allow the county to remain a first class county. "The ball is in their court. They need to let me know how they want me to proceed. It's an important issue and there are many faces to it," Riddle said.
Riddle said her main legislative focus when the General Assembly returns to session in January is to help create jobs in Callaway County. Riddle said she also is working to retain as many jobs as possible at the Fulton State Hospital. Riddle said on election day she talked with a Fulton State Hospital administrator about how Fulton can retain jobs at Fulton State Hospital. Riddle said the Jay Nixon Administration is reorganizing mental health agencies throughout the state. She said the governor wants to move some Fulton mental health jobs to Kansas City and St. Louis.
The Department of Mental Health officials announced last year that they intended to open a sexual offender facility at Fulton State Hospital to help make up for jobs lost in the department's reorganization. That process is beginning now. "It is my understanding that the worst of the worst sexual offenders will remain in Farmington," Riddle said.
"When the economy is in the tank, state jobs are under the microscope. I've heard we will need to cut $600 million and maybe more or less from the state budget next year. Everything is going to be looked at," Riddle said.
"The main thing on my plate now is to work to secure a second nuclear reactor at the Callaway Nuclear Power Plant," Riddle said. She said electric cooperatives throughout the state are working on a deal with Ameren Missouri for joint financing of the second nuclear reactor.
"Callaway 2 would add many jobs in Callaway County. I am working both to retain and increase state employees in Callaway County along with additional development at the nuclear plant. We cannot progress as a society without safe, affordable, abundant and reliable energy. I have worn everybody's ears off about what we can do to move the second nuclear reactor forward and I think now there is some progress in that direction," said Riddle.
"It was such a blow to everyone in the state when the legislative proposal for a second nuclear reactor fell through last year. Our governor was not in favor of it even though that was a lot of union jobs that were not created," Riddle said. "I know several entities are working now to get the governor on board. It is definitely a priority of mine to work for a second nuclear reactor at the Callaway Nuclear Power Plant," Riddle said.
Riddle said Republicans are working on a plan to create more jobs in Missouri. "I have been talking with business leaders in Callaway County on this issue. I want quick access with them so I can ask them how a proposed jobs plan would affect them. Small business employs more than 80 percent of the people in the state. So that's were we must look to create jobs," Riddle said.
Riddle said in talking with Callaway County residents they have told her to make sure that Missouri trims state spending to match its income.
"Callaway Countians want the state to be fiscally responsible," Riddle said.