Both District 52 state representative candidates are unopposed in the Aug. 2 primary election, but will face each other in the Nov. 8 general election.
Incumbent state Rep. Nathan Beard, R-Sedalia, has been challenged by first-time candidate Kyle Garner, a Democrat.
Beard is seeking re-election after his first term in office. He works as an attorney with his dad at their family law practice in Sedalia and owns a real estate business with his wife. Beard said he decided to run again because he wants to continue to “do some good in the world.” He is a lifelong Missourian and has served on the Red Cross board, as a Boy Scout scout master and a member of the local Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints.
Beard said one of the biggest issues facing the state is improving the economy and he offered three ways to improve it:
• Education: “It’s imperative that our community, especially in Sedalia and Knob Noster, has top-notch education. What we can do at the state level is provide funding for that. This last legislative session we were able to increase that budget by $70 million.”
• Infrastructure: “We have an advantage over many states in our union because we’re centrally located so a lot of businesses look at us, they want to locate here because it doesn’t cost as much to transport their goods across the nation. … However, if our roads and bridges aren’t top-notch and world-class, it starts to negate that advantage that we do have. MoDOT for the last several years now has warned their funding is not adequate for our situation.” Beard said he is against raising taxes to assist MoDOT, saying that he thinks state officials need to better prioritize the budget and divert funds to MoDOT, as well as eliminating prevailing wage to help cut costs.
• Veterans: Referring to the economic boost Whiteman Air Force Base provides the area, Beard noted that he co-sponsored a bill last year to offer veterans a tax deduction so they don’t pay a tax on earned income through the military, as many other states do, to help encourage veterans to stay in the area.
He said another top issue is protecting citizens’ freedoms.
“Making sure our freedoms aren’t ripped off because they’re under attack all the time,” he said. “One thing that is really in the news is gun control. There’s a lot of news stories about officers being shot, citizens being shot. This last year I co-sponsored the bill that made Missouri the most pro-gun friendly state in the union and it passed with large majorities. It would allow people to conceal carry without a permit; you can still get a permit if you want.”
At the state level, a goal is to put together a balanced budget. Beard also offered some challenges he sees in fulfilling the office if re-elected.
“The House has 163 members, some people call that herding cats. Right now we have a historic majority of conservative thinkers. And so if we can continue with this majority, it makes that problem a whole lot more attainable,” he said. “We’ve been able to override our governor and his vetoes over the last few years at an astounding rate. … Hopefully we can get a Republican governor and that will make our task a whole lot easier. I foresee that Right to Work legislation is going to come out again. I think that’s a key piece of legislation we need to be serious about to help and encourage our economic situation in our state.”
As for local goals, Beard said he has worked to stop the bill that would allow motorized vehicles on the Katy Trail and is working to obtain funding to connect the Katy Trail through Sedalia. He would also like to see additional space on the Missouri State Fairgrounds for RVs and campers.
“I’m just like them,” he said of why citizens should vote for him. “I’m a dedicated father, I’m a father of soon to be six children. I understand the economy is key and that the state of Missouri does have a part to play in that in getting out of the way and letting individuals choose for themselves how they’re going to live their lives. … My conservative background, I’m a religious man, believe in God. I understand we’re accountable to him, to be there for the right reasons for the betterment of society versus others who perhaps just need a job.”
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.