Missouri’s Senate District 3 race will be determined in the Aug. 4 primary, with three Republicans vying to take the office vacated by Gary Romine last fall.
Kent Scism, Josh Barrett and Elaine Gannon are all running on the Republican ticket.
Many know Farmington resident Kent Scism from the decades-old auto dealership on U.S. 67 purchased by his father, Sam, who also farmed and raised livestock on Hillsboro Road. Scism graduated from Central High School, attended Missouri State University, and came back to help his father run the dealership, eventually taking it over and expanding the business. He and his wife of 32 years, Angie, have three daughters.
When asked why he decided to run for office, Scism said the values his father imparted were instrumental.
“My father instilled in me a sense that small businesses benefited from the community they served, and therefore, we owed the community and its families to give back,” he said. “I want to serve and I believe I can make a real difference … We need jobs and a plan to bring back jobs from China. To keep jobs in our community we must reduce unnecessary regulations, end frivolous lawsuits, and we need to cut taxes.
“We need to protect our rights, our property rights, and our rights to privacy. We need someone to work every day to protect our Second Amendment rights and the life of the unborn. As a constitutional conservative outsider, I feel I have the commitment and experience to solving these issues and get the job done.”
When asked how he stood on pensions, Scism said public pension reform is needed for teacher and government worker retirement plans.
“Too often, politicians pass pay raises that are popular to get them elected, yet once in office, they fail to fund pensions to avoid tough financial discussions and decisions. This leads to pensions being under-funded, putting the people who should benefit from the funds at risk,” he said. “By the time the pensions are in default, the politicians who raised the salaries but failed to fund the pensions are long gone. We need pension reform that require them to be funded as pay increases are instituted to guarantee the financial stability of the fund, the payment of all benefits due and the people lives that are promised these pensions.”
Scism acknowledged partisan divisions in the country and said part of building a successful life and business means building relationships and bringing people together, listening and focusing on the issues without giving up principles.
“I am committed to work until we find the right solution, not the easy solution,” he said. “As senator, I hope to put aside personal biases, focus on principles and share local struggles in Jefferson City so they will understand how greater freedoms and less mandates and regulations will create greater opportunities,” he said. “If you hold to your convictions and treat your opponents with respect, you can find common sense solutions to the problems that divide us today.”
Regarding Clean Missouri, Scism said the initiative passed some restrictions on lobbying and contributions to “hide its true intention of partisan gerrymandering that will divide our communities for political gains.”
“Republicans have controlled the legislature for 20 years and failed miserably to pass reforms on lobbying and special interest basic ethics reforms. I believe that Clean MO did not go far enough to draining the swamp. Special interests are still too powerful and ethics laws are still too weak,” he said. “If it means I am repealing Clean Missouri because we need stronger reforms, then I am guilty. And if opposing gerrymandering that would divide communities, deny fair representation is repealing Clean Missouri, then I am wrong. We need redistricting to be less partisan and ethics to be much stronger.”
Scism said bringing back jobs from China would help enhance the state’s business climate, and his initiative would work to bring manufacturing jobs back to Missouri.
“We can keep those jobs if we reduce unnecessary regulations, end frivolous lawsuits and focus on workforce development that emphasizes training and retraining in high-demand industries,” he said. “My plan would place a greater emphasis on community colleges, technical schools, and vocational education so we have a workforce ready for the jobs of tomorrow.”
Scism said the average Missourian can help the state by standing up for their rights, chiefly the Second Amendment, the life of the unborn, property rights and rights to privacy. “If we fail to stand up for our rights, they will disappear,” he said.
He said he is interested in providing more resources to better train law enforcement — “not defund them” — to keep criminals off the streets and to allow businesses to use guns to defend their business from looters.
“I will make it a felony to tear down statues and monuments. I will fight to expand victims’ rights such as Megan’s Law. I will also hold cities liable that intentionally and purposely fail to protect the property and lives of families and businesses in their jurisdiction,” he said. “That is why I was endorsed by the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police. I will never let liberals in Washington or Jefferson City infringe on our Second Amendment rights and in the state senate I will fight to expand the rights of law-abiding gun owners."
Farmington resident Josh Barrett is a retired combat veteran with the U.S. Marine Corps, having served more than eight years including three combat tours overseas to Iraq and Afghanistan. He said during his service he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corp Achievement Medal three times for action during combat. After retiring from the Marines, he settled on the family farm in St. Francois County with his wife Lauren, and their three boys Tristan, Gavin, and Brayden.
When asked why he decided to run for office, he said he has always felt a calling to public service and a mission to protect Missourians’ rights in the State Capitol.
“I will always put the people of this community first and protect their tax dollars, and their families,” he said.
When it comes to public pensions, Barrett said he believed that people who have spent their time, hard work and devotion to the state, government and education, who have retirement, matching 401K, or pension have earned their money and their time in retirement. “With that being said, I do believe that the government pensions and retirements should be a fair value to taxpayers and retirees,” he said.
When asked how he would address political divisions and reunite the parties and citizenry, Barrett said he hoped to make a change in Jefferson City, “a change that will help other elected officials, Democrat or Republican. It’s time for a new era, new state, but most importantly, a new beginning.
“There are always going to be pros and cons in every situation. The moment elected officials disagree from either party, they need to realize that there is always a solution, but a solution that is from the people, by the people, and for the people. I will not only be voice for my district and community, but I will also be a voice for all Missourians.”
When asked how he felt about lawmakers’ dismantling of the Clean Missouri Act which was passed in 2018 by a clear majority of District 3 voters, Barrett said he opposed the dismantling. “The constitution is for the people. The bill of rights is for the people. The right to vote is not amended,” he said. “The right to vote is letting the people have a voice and for their voice to be heard. Not to be overruled. Going back to the initiative, is going back on the people’s right to vote. I will defend the rights of all Missourians.”
In terms of enhancing Missouri’s business environment, Barrett said he advocated reducing taxes, regulations, and red tape.
He thinks the average Missourian can best help the state by voting, and voting wisely.
“I believe that Missourians publicly voicing their concerns or regards to problematic issues are the most important so that the needs of Missourians can be met and accomplished,” he said.
A “pet” Missouri issue that he would like to see addressed if elected to office is “defending liberty.”
“I believe politicians today have stayed too far away from our founders’ vision and the principles of the constitution,” he said. “I will always support the Second Amendment rights of all Missourians, oppose so-called ‘Red Flag’ laws, and fight against big government databases that threatens the rights and privacy of all Missourians. I would like to make the State of Missouri a Second Amendment Sanctuary State.”
Elaine Gannon, who is terming out of her 115th District House of Representatives seat, grew up in Bismarck and now lives in De Soto, where she taught school for 32 years.
She graduated from Bismarck High School in 1971, Jefferson County Community College in 1973, and Southeast Missouri State University in 1975, receiving a master’s degree in education from Southwest Missouri Baptist University in 1994. She ran for the Missouri House in 2012, and was recently elected to the De Soto School Board. She also served as director of the De Soto Parks Program from 1989 to 2000. Her husband, Dennis, is Jefferson County Executive, and they have two sons, Andrew and Jason. She is active in the NRA, the Get Health De Soto Christmas Home Tour, De Soto Chamber of Commerce and the First Baptist Church in De Soto. She has been endorsed by Missouri Right to Life.
Gannon said she first decided to run for office because, having lived in the area her entire life, she thought a “strong, conservative voice standing up for us” was needed.
“I will work to bring back jobs, reduce the burden of taxes and regulation, and make sure our rights and our values are protected,” she said.
In terms of public pensions, she’s aware some in Jefferson City have have called for changes or reductions, “often to raid these funds in order to get money for other programs, and this is irresponsible,” she said. “My opinion is that teachers and other government workers have put in the time to serve the public with the understanding that we would be standing behind them when they retire, and it would be a disservice to change the deal we made with them.”
In terms of facilitating political unity, Gannon said her colleagues in Jefferson City must recognize that the goal should be the same, “to be a voice for the people of Missouri and move our state forward. There are too many in office who listen to special interest groups instead of the people of our state, and that has to change. I know the values and priorities of this district because I have lived here my whole life, and I will do all that I can to serve this region if elected to the Missouri Senate.”
Gannon said she agreed with restructuring the District 3-approved Clean Missouri Act because, “I think if you were to ask most voters, they will tell you that they believed Amendment 1 to be about ethics reform and had no idea that liberal special interest groups had hidden language in there to change Missouri’s nonpartisan reapportionment process,” she said. “This year’s Amendment 3 simply allows Missourians the chance to restore the apportionment process while also adopting strong ethics reform measures.”
When asked what she thinks is the most important improvement Missouri can make to enhance its business climate, Gannon said providing relief from red tape is a huge factor.
“We have to simplify the tax code, reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses, and make investments in infrastructure including roads, rural broadband, and workforce training,” she said.
When asked how the average Missourian can best help the state, she said grassroots “getting involved” was key. “Volunteering with local charities, civic organizations, and schools is an excellent way to give back to the community and help our state,” she said.
If elected to the senate, she said, her “pet” mission would to pay more attention to Missouri’s public education system.
“As a teacher for more than three decades, I know that what we teach our students in classrooms across the state is vital to preparing them for a productive future, and we must ensure students across the state continue to have access to a world-class education,” she said.
Sarah Haas is the assistant editor for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-518-3617 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.