Sedalia residents will be sending a familiar face back to Jefferson City next year as incumbent state Rep. Nathan Beard secured re-election in Tuesday’s General Election.
Beard, R-Sedalia, will be serving a second term after gaining 8,432 votes (70.54 percent) against Democratic challenger Kyle Garner, who received 3,518 votes (29.43 percent) in Pettis County.
The District 52 seat also includes Knob Noster and Whiteman Air Force Base. In Johnson County, Beard received 1,188 votes and Garner received 516.
“It felt great to see over 70 percent of the voters putting their trust in me again really feels good,” Beard told the Democrat at Hotel Bothwell where he was attending the Pettis County Republican watch party with his family. “I didn’t really expect or think the numbers would be so high. To me that means they’re pleased with the job that’s being done in Jeff City, pleased with the service that I’ve been rendering, and I’m happy, really humbled for an opportunity to try for two more years.”
While talking with the Democrat, the Missouri governor’s race hadn’t been called yet, but he was hopeful that Missouri would have a Republican governor, which he called “a game-changer in Jefferson City.”
“Some things we’ve been trying to push through at this point, No. 1 will be roads and bridges. We’ll be able to see eye-to-eye on prioritizing those funds so we can get those projects up and completed and continue to make this a world-class economy that will attract businesses from all over the world,” Beard said.
Locally, Beard noted two projects he hopes to work on in Jefferson City. One is obtaining more space at the Missouri State Fairgrounds to help accommodate the increasing number of RVs who come to camp during the Fair each year, which he said is missed revenue. Second, he’d like to continue his work on connecting the Katy Trail in Sedalia.
“Money’s already been approved, under Gov. (Jay) Nixon he postponed the $1 million that I got appropriated to finish that until next year, so we’ve got to get that money so the trail can be finished here,” Beard said.
The 2016 election marked the first time Garner has run for public office. He used that during his campaign, telling voters they needed someone like them — a young citizen with a varied work background — representing them in Jefferson City.
He also frequently touted the need for candidates and voters to reach across the aisle to focus on issues rather than political parties. He mentioned that again after Tuesday’s final results for District 52.
“If you look county-wide, what we saw was Republicans voted for Republicans, Democrats voted for Democrats. No one put a lot of thought into candidates or races, each ran close to each other,” Garner said by phone. “Candidates like Robin Smith for secretary of state with no presence in Pettis County to Chris Koster and (Jason) Kander and myself who had a lot of campaigns here, it says that message didn’t matter, campaign, issues didn’t matter. It was strictly, ‘I’m Republican so I’m voting Republican, I’m Democrat so I’m voting Democrat.”
He said it’s too soon for definite answers, but that another run in local politics isn’t out of the question.
“I had a great time campaigning, getting to know a lot of people out there in the community,” he said. “I don’t have a bad thing to say about the experience, except the final results. (Running again is) something we’re open to, but who knows what the future holds.”
Like his fellow Democratic candidates higher up on the Missouri ballot have said during this election season, he called for a need for new leadership in Missouri.
“It’s hard to square the results of the election with what I hear from voters, I hear dissatisfaction with government, they want representatives who are out there and accessible,” Garner said. “… every voter says it’s about the issues and they want new government, then they go out and vote straight ticket, they don’t vote for themselves. We’re going to see a lot of the same people in Jefferson City and things won’t change until we change who we send there.”
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or on Twitter @NicoleRCooke.