Town Hall Meetings – Guest Column by Will Kraus
This week, several state representatives, municipal leaders, and myself hosted two town meetings in the district. As always, it was great to hear from people from District 8 on issues that are important to you.
On Monday evening, I participated in a town hall at the Lee’s Summit City Hall along with Reps. Jeff Grisamore, Mike Cierpiot and Gary Cross. I’d like to thank Lee’s Summit Mayor Randy Rhoads and the city for allowing us the use of the council chambers for this meeting. About fifty residents showed up for the meeting, and they came with a wide variety of questions and ideas.
After each elected official gave a brief summary of this year’s session, we opened the floor to questions. Among the many topics discussed were programs and funding for disabled Missourians, funding for Missouri’s Department of Transportation, and possible ideas for raising taxes on gasoline or cigarettes.
Perhaps the most common theme of the night was ethics in government. Several specific ethical issues were raised, and while it is hard to comment on specific incidents, each elected official present was clear that ethical standards must be held high so that our constituents trust what we are doing.
On Tuesday evening, I participated in a town hall at Moreland Ridge Middle School with Rep. Sheila Solon. We were joined by Blue Springs Councilmen Grant Bowerman and Ron Fowler. About 40 residents from Blue Springs, Grain Valley and Oak Grove attended the town hall.
Interestingly, the issues raised Tuesday evening were a bit different. Several union representatives touched on the “Right to Work” issue that comes before the Legislature almost annually. We had several questions surrounding Missouri’s budget and the growth of social services. We were asked about proposals to implement a flat tax (the same percentage for all taxpayers) or Fair Tax (eliminating the income tax in favor of a higher sales tax.) And we took a few questions relating to jobs and economic development.
It was also interesting to hear the discussion involving city issues. Blue Springs is considering changes to its solid waste programs, and that dominated the discussion.
I consider these town halls to be a valuable asset. In addition to the questions and comments during the meeting, I am always able to talk one-on-one with residents before and after these events. These conversations help me understand what constituents of the 8th District expect from their state senator.
I am planning one more town hall this summer, this one in conjunction with Rep. Jeannie Lauer. We will advertise that in our weekly e-mail as well as through the local papers.
Please feel free to contact the 8th Senatorial District’s Capitol office with any questions or concerns at any time. We look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions and trying to answer any questions you may have. You can reach us by phone at 573-751-1464, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.