Vicke Kepling 

Challenger




54 years old


Adjunct writing instructor at Missouri State University


Policy Briefs:


Increase Tax Burden


Expand Government Regulations


Reduce Police Funding


#1 Issue - Environment​



Why are you the best candidate for your district?

 I am applying for the position of state representative, and voters will decide the best candidate with their votes. While I do not like to say that I’m “better” than anyone else, I do have knowledge, skills, and experience that will serve the position well if I am hired.

In 2011, after a decade of fighting for the rights of children with disabilities, including my son’s, I realized that I cared about everything. My vision expanded to all the issues and injustices in the world, and I found that I was not happy sitting at home looking at my computer. I had to do something — and I have. Now I am ready to take a compassionate, professional warrior spirit with 20 years of activism experience to Jefferson City.

I have two master’s degrees and a background in legal matters (Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act). My degree in technical writing will help with forming effective speeches and legislation, and my MBA will give me an understanding of budget and economic issues. A graduate certificate in public management will allow me to address all sides of a topic with diplomacy.

I care, a lot, and just want to make the world a better place for all the people — not just for the rich. I am not big money. I grew up in Lebanon and moved to Springfield in 2009. I love this community and the people in it. I love the natural resources in Missouri and will be an environmental champion if elected.


What is your opinion of the state’s response to the coronavirus outbreak thus far?


Missouri leaders should be commended for the positive steps they have taken in response to COVID-19, such as testing, expanding PPE, monitoring health care capacity, sharing data, and recommending preventative measures. However, transmission rates have continued to rise, and we are currently in a period labeled as “uncontrolled spreading.”

Statewide restrictions were lifted on June 16 and Missouri leaders chose not to require that people wear a mask outside at all times when social distancing is not possible, unlike their counterparts in a majority of other states. The lack of a needed mandate has left it up to communities to create their own rules. Here in Springfield, city leaders passed a 90-day mask order and are now being sued for this action.

Governor Parson said the following about children going back to school: “ ... if they do get Covid-19, which they will — and they will when they go to school — they’re not going to the hospitals. ... They’re going to go home, and they’re going to get over it.” As a parent and an educator, I see the carelessness and shortsightedness of this statement.

The pandemic has revealed the lack of supports on many levels (economic, health care, childcare, etc.), and the state will continue to face challenges as tax dollars decrease and budget cuts take effect.


What will you do as a legislator to help the state recover from the outbreak moving forward?

During this period of uncontrolled spreading of the coronavirus in the state, it is important that Missourians take caution. If elected, I will support a statewide mask mandate and encourage people to be safe and socially distance as much as possible until the situation is under control. Education is key.

I will encourage the option of online instruction for students with the understanding that this option is not feasible for many families. I will encourage businesses to expand options for employees to work from home when possible.

I will support legislation requiring counties to expedite the spending of federal CARES funding for the health care of its citizens. Missouri was allotted $2.4 billion of the federal $2.2 trillion stimulus package in March. Of the $2.4 billion, $527 milllion was to go to local governments. According to reports, over 50 of Missouri’s 114 counties had failed to pass this funding to their health departments.

Once a vaccine is approved, I will support free vaccination. However, I will not support a mandated vaccination.

Most people are acting with common sense and are not attending mass rallies and events. We must lead with science and by example. We must support our health care workers, teachers, cashiers, food producers, small businesses, and all the people who are keeping things running during this challenging time.


What will you do as a legislator to minimize the impact of any economic downturn on the state budget?

The very first thing that I will do to minimize the impact of the economic downturn on the state budget as a state legislator will be to work to repeal the tax cuts given in 2018: House Bill 2540 reduced Missouri’s top individual income tax rate from 5.8 to 5.4 percent (with incremental cuts to possibly follow), and Senate Bill 884 reduced the state’s corporate tax rate from 6.25 percent to 4.0 percent. According to reports, the vast majority — 80 percent — of the benefits go the wealthiest Missourians. Missouri voters are needed to decide tax increases, but legislators can pass legislation to lower taxes (that mostly benefits the rich). That, itself, is a problem.

The pandemic has provided an awakening to many Missouri citizens and households. During the quarantine, most families stayed home, cut spending, and reduced pollution in the process. The virus gave us a rare opportunity to spend time with our families, realize what is important in our lives, and consider our futures with a new perspective. Currently our economy is based on extreme greed and consumerism, which are not sustainable. We watch as friends and family members have to put themselves and loved ones in harm’s way to be able to pay their bills, while federal lawmakers choose to protect wealthy corporations over the well-being of citizens. Americans are not stupid.

Missouri’s unemployment has more than doubled since the virus occurred. With businesses closing or reopening in limited capacity, many citizens are left without jobs and the ability to pay for shelter, utilities, and necessities. This will result in increased inequality, a higher poverty level, and less revenue for the state. Big changes will need to be made.


Do you think calls for changes to the state’s criminal justice system are justified? If so, why, and which changes do you support? If not, why not?

 Our criminal justice system absolutely needs improvements. The senseless murder of George Floyd and so many others brought to light — again — the many problems nationwide and in Missouri, especially dealing with racial discrimination. I marched with the NAACP in Ferguson in 2014, worked to have wording changed in Springfield’s Police Handbook, lobbied with the ACLU in Jefferson City, rallied for police body cameras locally, and have hope that real change will happen this time.

I stand with the NAACP in its local requests — reduce Springfield’s disparity index from 2.71 to 1.0 in traffic stops and arrests, ban the use of chokeholds and neck restraints, and reform the Civilian Review Board — and believe we should consider these when forming a state plan. I stand against the militarization of our police and against privatized prisons.

Senate Bill 600 was signed into law on July 6, and now legislators are considering more legislation during a special session. Some of the proposed legislation is acceptable, such as allowing St. Louis to hire police officers outside of the area when more officers are needed. One proposed bill, however, would allow judges to decide whether or not to try children 12 years and older as adults. Juveniles need to be treated in age-appropriate systems and do not belong in adult courts or prisons.

We need to alter police training so that it focuses on de-escalation exercises and train officers to only use violence as a last resort. We need to hire social workers to help when appropriate and increase accountability and transparency in our police departments. We need to focus on protecting all people.


What will you do as a legislator to improve educational outcomes for Missouri students?

 We need to enhance our public educational system by eliminating tax dollars that are diverted to charter or private institutions. Every dollar given to a charter school takes a dollar away from our public schools and leads to greater inequality for our students. We need to work to see that school districts are funded more equally and that money is spent more equally across districts.

We need to pay teachers with good salaries, which will ultimately lead to more applicants and better teachers. Teachers should be valued similarly to doctors and lawyers, and we should only hire the best and the brightest.

I support expanding early childhood education and requiring each newly built school to have at least one classroom for students with varying abilities. (The state will fund this but does not currently require it.) I support inclusion of students with disabilities in regular classrooms, with supports, when appropriate. I do not support separate centers for children with disabilities.

I support providing students who wish to go to college with two years of tuition at a community college or state university, with the ultimate goal of providing four years of college tuition in the future.


How will you address concerns about the state’s aging infrastructure?

With revenues decreasing, I believe the only way to address the state’s aging infrastructure is with specific tax initiatives. For example, I believe voters would have approved the gas tax in 2018 had the tax not also included law enforcement and Special Olympics clauses. Initiative writers must be specific about what infrastructure needs repaired or replaced.

Like a friend often says, we are either preparers or repairers. Regular maintenance saves money in the long run. We vote with our dollars on how we want our world to look and can be cost-conscious while maintaining Missouri’s infrastructure.









What issue not mentioned so far do you plan to make a priority if you win your election? Why that one?

I will be an environmental champion in Jefferson City. My primary goal will be to protect Missouri’s rivers, drinking water, and other natural resources by writing, proposing, and co-sponsoring legislation that will work to achieve this objective. I will work with state organizations to create an environmental plan for Missouri, one that will consider our children and our children’s great-grandchildren.

Without a healthy, sustainable planet, nothing else will matter. Whenever any legislation is proposed, we need to ask two questions: 1) are we treating a problem or a symptom of a problem, and 2) how will this legislation affect the planet? State legislators are passing laws to take away local control over pollution and will lead to the poisoning of our rivers and ecosystem, and I am truly frightened for future generations.

We are in a climate emergency and must make sustainability our foremost concern at the Capitol. I watch as other states pass environmentally conscious legislation while Missouri goes backward. This must end. I have hope, though, which is one of the reasons I am running for state representative.

I believe in updating state energy codes and creating renewable energy goals. I believe that recycling must be made available through every trash service and that businesses should be required to recycle. We need to work on the statewide level to minimize the use of plastics and harmful chemicals. We need to conserve, increase, and fund our public lands. We need to plant trees. We also need to educate the public on the importance of protecting our natural resources. We do not have time to waste.


What else should voters know about you?

 I am the first Green Party candidate from Greene County to run for state office and believe it is time for voters to have choices outside the two-party machine (and it is a machine). District 135 voters have the chance to make history by electing a strong third-party candidate. We are breaking ground.

Anyone that knows me knows that I am a hard worker and that I care deeply for my community. If elected, I will be a voice for the people, regular people, people who feel that government no longer serves them. I will work equally with all legislators. My loyalty will be to the people and planet: Money will not buy my vote.

I will support small business over big corporations and family farms over factory farms/CAFOs. I will work to stop allowing Missouri farmland to be sold to foreign-owned companies.

I will work to reduce pollution at every level and will support the production and manufacturing with hemp in Missouri.

I will support workers’ rights and unions.

I will support democracy with respect to the wishes of voters and voter initiatives. I will support campaign finance reform and work against “dark money” and legislators writing legislation from which they profit.

I will fight for justice on every level: social, economic, racial, gender, sexual, and environmental.

If elected, I will be a voice for you.

Compare the Candidates

The Q&A for this page is from the Springfield News-leader article written by Austin Huguelet, August 27, 2020.

https://www.news-leader.com/story/news/politics/elections/2020/08/27/meet-candidates-state-rep-springfields-house-district-135/5541005002/

417-501-6883


for State representative

Steve Helms

Incumbent




54 years old


State representative of the 135th district & Independent Insurance Broker


Policy Briefs:


Reform Tax Code


Eliminate Unnecessary Regulations


Protect Police Funding


#1 Issue - Lower Healthcare costs



Why are you the best candidate for your district?

Experience and better representation of the district. As a veteran, former Greene County Circuit Clerk, and small business owner, I have a broad experience in understanding how government works best to promote opportunity for all. Having served nearly four years in this office, I am better able to impact the legislative process, and as a member of the majority, move legislation for the district more effectively.

I have stood firm to protect the rights of all people, worked to advance opportunity for everyone, and protected the programs that our most vulnerable need while focusing on the issues that matter to most.
 




















What is your opinion of the state’s response to the coronavirus outbreak thus far?

By focusing on informing the public and providing municipalities with the authority and resources to address their local needs, I believe that the state response was as good as we could have expected from such an unusual event.

Once we are through this pandemic, we will be able to more objectively look at what went right and what might need fixing. Among the areas to review are how unemployment claims are handled and the rights of patients and families in hospitals and nursing homes.

As the unemployment office was inundated with new applications, my office received many calls for assistance, which we were able to help get them resolved. Plus, too many elderly, the infirm, and their families suffered emotional and mental health issues as a result of some inflexible administrative procedures.














What will you do as a legislator to help the state recover from the outbreak moving forward?

 Missouri’s No. 1 goal is to get our economy moving again. It is how we pay for everything that we need from Medicaid to education to our roads and bridges.

We were moving in the right direction before this pandemic hit us, and as we recover, we must maintain that course; eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy and red tape entanglements for our businesses and expanding workforce development so that individuals have the skills that are in demand.

Just this past session, I worked to pass a bill that would help bring in more licensed professionals to our state, which are needed and typically pay higher wages. It also included the Fresh Start Act and Expanded Workforce Act; these would help individuals with a criminal record get a second chance and create apprenticeship opportunities for skilled jobs.
















What will you do as a legislator to minimize the impact of any economic downturn on the state budget?

 Missouri can’t borrow and print its way out of this problem. As a state, we have to maintain a balanced budget and spend the revenue we have.

The two most impactful things we can do now is redouble our efforts to make government work more efficiently with the money that we have and, as quickly as possible, get people working and our economy back on track. Like any household that experiences less income, we will work through this and come out stronger on the other side.






























Do you think calls for changes to the state’s criminal justice system are justified? If so, why, and which changes do you support? If not, why not?

 Yes, I am in favor of common-sense reforms. We passed a few good steps last year that would eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for some nonviolent offenses and prohibit additional time for not paying their board bill.

We can do more with treatment courts and diversion programs. For individuals who are being released from prison, we need to help them have the tools to become productive citizens.

I supported medical marijuana and would support decriminalization of some drug usage so that we can focus on prevention and reducing addiction.

























What will you do as a legislator to improve educational outcomes for Missouri students?

 Missouri schools are locally controlled, and I believe that school boards, teachers, parents, and students know what is best for them. I will continue to uphold my original pledge to protect that local control and work to fully fund our schools.

I have voted to fully fund our schools every year that I have been in office, and we have done so. Unfortunately, this year the governor has withheld some funds due to COVID-19 and a reduction of state revenue. I will work to get those funds restored as soon as possible.


The biggest problem is the lack of opportunity for some students, primarily in inner-city areas, to get a high-quality education. We can’t keep telling parents it’s going to get better and not deliver. That’s part of the lack of opportunity that some inner-city children face and we must fix it.












How will you address concerns about the state’s aging infrastructure?

 Getting our economy going again is the best way to provide the necessary resources to fund infrastructure issues now. The solution that some have proposed is to raise taxes, but the voters have recently rejected several tax increases and we should respect their wishes.

I believe that we can better use current revenue to address the most important concerns, while we expand available funds by promoting a pro-growth economy. However, with new technologies on the horizon, we need to evaluate if our current taxing mechanisms are best going forward.

We live in the digital age and too many areas of our state are left out of this dynamic economic growth because they lack adequate internet connectivity. It also hurts the educational opportunities and medical access to these areas. Expanding access to the internet is an important infrastructure issue for our state.


What issue not mentioned so far do you plan to make a priority if you win your election? Why that one?

Health care has been a priority since I was first elected and will continue to be until its resolved. It is too expensive and difficult for many to access.

Some want to make government pay for an ever-increasing share. This would ultimately lead to a government takeover and would reduce quality and choice for everyone. There’s a better way.

The experts tell us that a lack of transparency in health care is one of the top reasons that costs have risen faster than inflation for decades. We can fix that and many other problems like outdated rules that prohibit providers from being market-friendly and more accessible.

One of the things that single-payer systems do well is focus on primary care. Government doesn’t have to take it all over to make that happen. Direct primary care models and consumer directed care would help move us in that direction.


















What else should voters know about you?

 It has been an honor and privilege to serve you for these past four years. I’m asking for your vote Nov. 3 so that I may continue to work for you in a positive manner.

While none of us agree on every issue, I know that we have much more in common than not. A safe community, affordable housing and health care, great schools, and growing opportunity are things that we all want.

In this time of strife and uncertainty, let us remember that America is still a land of opportunity for all. Respecting one another, listening to one another, and treating everyone as we would like to be treated will help us get through these tough times for a better tomorrow. I am confident of that.

Betsy Fogle
Challenger

 


30 years old


Works in public health

 

Policy Briefs:


Increase Tax Burden


Expand Government Regulations


Reduce Police Funding


#1 Issue - LGBTQ



Why are you the best candidate for your district?

 I’m running for office because I believe the people of Springfield deserve a voice in Jefferson City that advocates for the issues that impact our lives. My background in public health has shown me firsthand the barriers that families in our community face. I want to live in a community that is inclusive, equitable, and sustainable and our current representation has not led us in that direction.




























What is your opinion of the state’s response to the coronavirus outbreak thus far?

 There has been a demonstrated lack of leadership from Missouri’s elected officials. Between our governor refusing to issue state-wide mandates and the Republican-led legislature not taking this crisis seriously, the lack of response has put immense pressure on local leaders to handle the crisis on their own. We are fighting against inconsistent messaging and that struggle becomes more difficult when we are fighting our own leadership. Missouri’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic has left many people feeling helpless. From the beginning, the lessons learned in places where the outbreak peaked were ignored. Masks, while inconvenient, save lives. Our governor and other leaders continue to travel around our state endangering our neighbors by acting like masking is an option. I am thankful for local leadership, including our health department and our local hospital officials, who stepped up to navigate uncharted territory over the last five months.













What will you do as a legislator to help the state recover from the outbreak moving forward?

 As a legislator, I will continue my fight to remove barriers to health care to ensure a healthy community. COVID-19 highlighted a lot of problems that Missourians were already facing, including access to health care, unemployment, and educational disparities. In order to recover from this outbreak, Missouri needs to support a strong safety net to ensure that these basic needs for our families are met. COVID-19 will continue to impact us for years to come. What the last 6 months have taught us is that our state needs to be prepared to protect the safety and well-being of our communities in the face of a crisis.























What will you do as a legislator to minimize the impact of any economic downturn on the state budget?

As an elected official, I will guard the implementation of Medicaid expansion. If recent history is any lesson, even after Medicaid is expanded in our state there will be those in the legislature who will fight against its best implementation and seek to lessen its impact. Families who are healthy will be our best bet in driving a prosperous economic future. I will continue to fight for protections for our workers to ensure a healthy and safe workforce. I will also advocate for increased revenue for the state through the passage of the Wayfair online sales tax, which would keep Missouri dollars IN Missouri and help support local businesses. This is a long-overdue fix which would bring an estimated $180 million back to our communities.


























Do you think calls for changes to the state’s criminal justice system are justified? If so, why, and which changes do you support? If not, why not?

 Calls for changes to the criminal justice system in Missouri are justified. We need to pursue policy that supports the people in our state instead of policy that disenfranchises them. Our current criminal justice system places unfair burdens on both constituents and law enforcement. In Springfield, we have insufficient resources and infrastructure needed to incarcerate the amount of people sentenced. Instead of modeling a reactive approach, Missouri needs to invest in access to mental health services, education, and a strong safety net. In addition, we need to continue to advocate for reforms that eradicate institutional racism within our criminal justice system.



























What will you do as a legislator to improve educational outcomes for Missouri students?

Education is a fundamental component of a healthy society. This has never been more evident. Every Missouri child should have access to free, quality education regardless of income, ZIP code, or what house they were born into. If elected, I will work to ensure that the share in cost provided by the state increases. Currently, the share of funding provided by the state is the 49th lowest. Additionally, I will advocate for universal access to early childhood education for all of Missouri’s children. Investing in kids at an early age is the best way for us to invest in the future of our state.



















How will you address concerns about the state’s aging infrastructure?

 The infrastructure of Missouri should be prioritized and we need solutions that are environmentally responsible and sustainable. By ignoring our roadways, railways, bridges, greenways and waterways, we are making it difficult to attract and retain new enterprise. I would push for proper regulations to ensure the safety of our state and advocate for increased revenue to assist in the modernization of our infrastructure. Delaying attention to this issue will only make the problem worse and more expensive. 












What issue not mentioned so far do you plan to make a priority if you win your election? Why that one?

 The Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA) has been debated and denied for 20 years. MONA, if passed, would add sexual orientation and gender identity to Missouri’s Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and other public accommodations. Currently, people in Missouri can get fired or evicted from their home for identifying as a member of the LGBTQ community. (Editor’s note: LGBTQ individuals can no longer be fired for their sexual orientation or gender identity thanks to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, but they can still be evicted or barred from public accommodations.) If elected, I will work to ensure the passage of this legislation and to make sure that legal discrimination does not exist in our state.
























What else should voters know about you?


I would like voters in my district to know that if elected, and even if I'm not, I will continue to advocate for our community. I will work hard, lead through transparency, and never settle. It would be an honor and a privilege to serve the 135th district in Jefferson City.  If you have any questions about my campaign, don't hesitate to reach out!