The Leader continues its Voters Guide for the Nov. 3 primary election. To assist an expected high number of people who wish to cast absentee and write-in ballots as early as possible, we will be posting profiles on candidates in contested races and ballot issues. The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot or mail-in ballot is 5 p.m. Oct. 21; the deadline to register to vote is Oct. 7. For information, call the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office at 636-797-5486.
The race is down to two to determine who will succeed Elaine Freeman Gannon as the District 115 representative in the Missouri House of Representatives.
Gannon, a Republican from of De Soto, was prohibited from running for a fifth two-year term in the House because of the state’s term limit standards. She is a candidate for the Missouri Senate’s District 3.
Cyndi Buchheit-Courtway of the Festus area won a three-way race in the Republican Party’s primary election in August, which set her up to face Cynthia D. Nugent of Bloomsdale in the Nov. 3 general election.
Nugent ran unopposed in the Democratic Party’s primary.
District 115 includes parts of south Jefferson County, northwest Ste. Genevieve County and northern St. Francois County.
State representatives serve two-year terms. The pay is $35,915 per year, a weekly allowance for miles traveled going to and returning from meetings, and expenses for each day the General Assembly is in session.
BUCHHEIT-COURTWAY, 44, lives in the Festus area. She and her husband, David, have five children and 15 grandchildren. She is a health information services specialist at Mercy Hospital Jefferson in Crystal City and also works part-time at Enterprise Bank and Trust.
A 1994 graduate of St. Vincent de Paul High School, she earned an associate degree from Jefferson College in 2018.
Social media: Website: cyndi4missouri.com Facebook: BuchheitCourtwayForMissouri
NUGENT, 55, lives in Bloomsdale with her husband, Bob. She recently partially retired from Sunshine Drapery in Sunset Hills after working in the window treatment business for more than 20 years. She also worked for the Ste. Genevieve School District and had a poultry house with 16,500 hens. A graduate of Ste. Genevieve High School, she also attended Jefferson R-7 schools.
What experience do you have (elected office, civic organizations, volunteer work, etc.) that might serve you well in this position?
Buchheit-Courtway: I have been active with and advocated for several organizations, including the 67 Gun Club, Festus-Crystal City Conservation Club and several Republican and conservative clubs. I have been a Sunday School teacher and have been involved in children’s ministries. I have helped numerous candidate campaigns. I have created budgets, have board member and officer experience, managed treasury funds, and have been a leader of people.
Nugent: I am a Democratic committeeperson, Democratic Club past president, am a past state committeewoman and past legislative member of the Missouri National Education Association. I am president of the Ste. Genevieve County Library Board. I have attended three Democratic national conventions.
Should the General Assembly pass legislation to allow counties, cities and other local jurisdictions to join the state in collecting sales taxes from internet purchases? Why or why not?
Buchheit-Courtway: I generally do not support additional taxes but this is a unique subject. Sales tax laws were implemented long before the internet. Small businesses account for two-thirds of new jobs. Most people want to support small businesses. Small business owners state that the lack of sales tax on internet purchases harms them. Before implementing a sales tax on internet sales, I would want to look seriously at reducing personal property taxes. I do not support eliminating personal property taxes. I support a phased-out approach that would reduce tax assessed to zero after a certain amount of years.
Nugent: Yes, we should all have to pay our taxes. That would be fair to all our brick-and-mortar businesses. This would be healthy competition. More choices for the shoppers. Maybe they can't get out, but now they have more selection.
Where should the state budget be cut to make up for unexpected expenses incurred to respond to the novel coronavirus pandemic? What should not be cut?
Buchheit-Courtway: After the pandemic hit, Gov. Parson was forced to withhold more than $448 million from the budget. Expenditures for education, health and senior services, mental health, social services and transportation exceed 80 percent of the budget. No matter where you cut, it is painful. Before additional cuts, we should stop spending on new or expanded programs until the situation stabilizes. Each bill proposed in the General Assembly has a fiscal note describing projected costs, but there should be a financial analysis to review the actual cost of bills that were passed compared with the projected cost.
Nugent: Stop giving tax breaks, even if they are temporary, to get the budget back on track. This is hard to say right now because so many people have lost jobs but taxing internet sales would have helped the state. Do not take funding from education. This pandemic has shown how hard it is on our schools. Some children do not have the necessary tools to learn from home, teachers are stressed enough, some have to use their own money for necessary supplies to help the students, and they are not always reimbursed.
How would you assess the state government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic? What would you have done or what would you do differently?
Buchheit-Courtway: I appreciate the state government allocating $521 million of federal CARES Act funding swiftly to the counties to distribute to local governments. This amounted to more than $36 million for Jefferson, St. Francois and Ste. Genevieve counties combined. I appreciate the governor and state officials working with and consulting with medical professionals and experts during these unprecedented times. I want to thank the state and local government officials, medical professionals and all of the front-line workers who have tried to help us navigate through this time. Second guessing at this time would not be productive.
Nugent: Our government did not show guidance or direction in slowing this pandemic down early enough. The necessary precautions were not put in place to prevent this. Look at how bad it is now. I hope we can see an improvement sooner than later. I highly suggest wearing masks, washing your hands frequently, social distancing if you have to go out and staying home if possible.
What is your stance on Constitutional Amendment No. 3, which would repeal portions of the “Clean Missouri” initiative overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2018?
Buchheit-Courtway: Amendment No. 1 in 2018 was originally ruled unconstitutional because it addressed too many issues. An appeals court overturned that decision. Most of the issues made sense and I supported them. However, the troubling part of the amendment was the issue of redistricting, which many people did not know was included or did not understand the potential outcome. The constitutional amendment changed the redistricting of legislative districts from a bipartisan commission to a state demographer recommended by the state auditor. It also changed the criteria for district boundaries. Some have argued that we could have districts very geographically out of balance.
Nugent: Vote no on Constitutional Amendment No. 3. We have voiced our opinion and voted already. Why must we let this be changed now? Leave it alone. It is nonpartisan now. What is wrong with that?
Why should voters elect you to this position? List your goals, if elected.
Buchheit-Courtway: I have real-life experiences in this district. I have worked, raised a family, volunteered, paid taxes, supported business and civic organizations. I have a heart to serve. I want to be a true representative of the people. I will fight for their voices to be heard. I am willing to speak for those who feel that they have no voice. I am pro-life, from conception to the natural end of life, pro-Second Amendment, pro-jobs, pro-seniors, pro-students. I want to find solutions and resources for mental health awareness and prevention of suicide, which has devastated too many families.
Nugent: I will speak up for education and the future of our children. We should all be able to have affordable health care. Unions need our support; they have been the backbone for working people. I am against right-to-work legislation because it’s intended to weaken unions. My husband was a member of the United Steelworkers Union and I am a past member of the Missouri National Education Association legislative committee.
On a scale of 1-5, with 1 being the strongest, how would you rate your support of your party’s nominee for president? Explain your reasoning.
Buchheit-Courtway: My support for President Trump is a 1. He supports law enforcement and law and order in our communities, is a defender of life, liberty and the Second Amendment. He has instituted reforms in the Veterans Administration system. Before the pandemic, we had record employment with a record-high stock market. President Trump did away with the North American Free Trade Agreement. Sen. Biden voted for and supported this agreement. This trade deal destroyed many good-paying union jobs in this country, especially in the auto industry.
Nugent: With 1 being the strongest, I fully support Joe Biden. He has the decency and integrity. He knows about government and he believes in a better government for all of us. I have met him more than once. He sat down with me and my husband and we talked about our families, shared pictures and stories of our lives. He still remembers us when we are in a crowd, and will still walk over and acknowledge us, if only for a brief moment.