By Susan Redden
MOUNT VERNON, Mo. —
While both insisted they are staunchly anti-abortion and pro-gun, candidates Charles Dake and Mike Moon found ways to contrast themselves in a debate Friday night at the MARC building in Mount Vernon.
Dake, a Democrat, and Moon, a Republican, are running for the 157th District seat in the Missouri House of Representatives to be filled in a special election on April 2. The post has been vacant since Gov. Jay Nixon appointed state Rep. Don Ruzicka, of Mount Vernon, to the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole.
A Miller veterinarian, Dake filled the post briefly before he was defeated by Ruzicka. Moon has a farm in Lawrence County near Ash Grove, and ran twice unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for Congress from Missouri’s 7th District.
To questions posed from moderators and the audience, the two candidates disagreed on proposed Medicaid expansion, right-to-work laws and some tax issues.
Dake said he supports Gov. Jay Nixon’s proposal to expand the state’s Medicaid rolls, citing support from hospitals for the plan and a University of Missouri study that the move would create at least 24,000 new jobs.
Recently retired from Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Moon said he opposes the expansion because the state cannot count on the federal government’s promise to continue funding most of the program costs.
“I do believe we need Medicaid reform, because there are folks out there abusing the system,” he said.
Moon said he also opposed the minimum wage and prevailing wage requirements, and would support making Missouri a right-to-work state.
“Employers should be able to pay what they want, and if the workers are not getting what they think they should, they can find another job,” he said.
Dake said he would not support right-to-work laws in Missouri because he believes it results in lower pay for workers.
“Pay in Missouri is $5,500 a year more than in right-to-work states like Kansas,” he said. “I’m for the working people and for helping seniors.”
Dake also contrasted himself from Moon in his support of public education, emphasizing that all of his children attended public schools, and that he would not support a school voucher program.
Moon said he home-schooled his children but that he still supports public education, adding, “I pay taxes.”
Both men said they would look for spending cuts rather than any kind of tax increases, and Dake said he opposed the sales tax increase now under consideration by the General Assembly. Moon said he also favored eliminating state income taxes in favor of higher sales taxes.
Moon said he opposed all elements of federal health care reform, but Dake said there is a need for people to be able to get preventive medicine “so they don’t end up in the emergency room, where it raises everybody’s bills.”
To a question from the audience about how many weapons both men owned, Moon said he owned one pistol and five rifles or shotguns, while Dake said he owned one pistol and between 30 and 40 rifles or shotguns.
“My wife doesn’t like pistols,” Dake said.
The debate was sponsored by the Lawrence County Record, with questioners from the Record, the Monett Times and the Pierce City Journal.