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Election Preview: Candidates, issues on the Nov. 6 ballot

In anticipation of the Nov. 6 general election, candidates in contested races only were invited to answer the following questions: Why are you running and what are your priorities if elected? What are your qualifications for holding public office?

Mid Rivers Newsmagazine has not verified and does not endorse the statements made by the candidates. Candidates in all races are listed in ballot order; incumbents are identified with an asterisk after their names. 

Those who are unopposed, or who failed to respond to our questionnaire by press time, are listed by name only. If a candidate failed to reply for the general election preview but did reply for the primary election preview, those answers have been used. 


• Josh Hawley [R]

Our nation is at a turning point. Our way of life is at stake. We must do something about stagnant wages, the rising cost of education, illegal immigration and skyrocketing healthcare costs. And no issue is more important than the Supreme Court. Our most important values are at stake at the Court, from the Second Amendment to our religious liberties to free speech and more. That’s why we need judges who will respect the Constitution – as it is written by the people, not as the liberal elite wants it to be.

I have served as attorney general of Missouri since 2016. In this capacity, I have taken on tech giants, big pharma and human traffickers. And I’ve gone after big government, fighting burdensome federal regulations, like the Waters of the U.S. Rule, that hurt family farms. We need a senator who will fight for the way of life we are proud of here in Missouri. I am grateful to have President Donald Trump’s endorsement and will work to advance his agenda and get things done in the U.S. Senate.

Claire McCaskill [D]*

I’m running for re-election to continue getting things done for hard-working Missourians. As I’ve traveled around Missouri, the top two issues I hear about are protecting Missourians with pre-existing conditions and standing up to the President’s trade war for Missouri jobs. I’ll continue to make both of these issues my top priorities. I will also continue working across the aisle to make progress for Missourians. President Trump has signed over 25 bills that I have worked on, and I’m proud that I’ve passed bipartisan legislation to lower the cost of hearing aids and get our veterans the benefits they deserve.

I’ve spent my life in Missouri, and I’ve been proud to serve Missourians in the State Legislature, as Jackson County Prosecutor, State Auditor, and now as the first and only woman elected to the Senate from Missouri. I recently held 50 town halls in a year, because I strongly believe that each and every Missourian is my boss – and that it’s part of my job to answer their questions and listen to their concerns. It helps me be a better Senator, because I take these concerns and ideas back to the Senate to break through gridlock and get things done.

Japheth Campbell [L]

• Craig O’Dear [I]

I am running because the two-party system has resulted in a winner-take-all mentality and has led to division and gridlock in Washington. Electing an Independent candidate, untethered from either party, will provide a political center and create neutral space to discuss and negotiate difficult issues. Individuals should be able to vote their conscience, not their party. By disrupting the power party leaders have over our government, we are positioned for a true dialogue that represents the will of the people. My top priorities, if elected, will be healthcare and economic inequality.

As a professional, I spent my career working with a diverse array of people on complex, emotionally charged issues, and leading the effort to achieve mutually acceptable solutions to problems. I recognize the value of discipline and teamwork; how to lead and how to follow. This is a skill set we need in the U.S. Senate.

• Jo Crain [G]

So many things are converging at this moment in time: 1] Climate change may cause the extinction of the human race and is causing extinctions of a great many species. Mitigating the problems is first and foremost. 2] Greed is ascendant at this moment and has caused more warfare, corruption and more damage to the planet than ever before. I seek to end the endless warfare and be a check on the military industrial complex that fuels it. 3] People deserve a future and for that future they need better education and better quality of life including their health.

I’ve been passionate about politics since early adulthood and went to a state convention in New Mexico. Since then I’ve marched against the second Iraq war in D.C., marched with Occupy and Stand Up in Kansas City. I’ve supported candidates with money and time and for a long time I was just an observer. Now, I think I have something to offer so I jumped into this race. We need vision, courage, purpose and focus; I believe that I can give that to the Missouri people.


• Ann Wagner [R]*

Ending human trafficking has been a passion of mine since I first came to Congress. For years, I have been working with law enforcement, advocates, and my colleagues to end modern day sex slavery. In April, my most substantial legislative initiative, FOSTA, was signed into law. FOSTA dealt a major blow to the sex trafficking industry, decreasing illegal commercial sex advertisements by almost 90 percent. I am now working on additional legislation that empowers victims and law enforcement.

At an early age, I began working in my parents’ family business, a retail carpet store called Carpetime in West St. Louis County. Working alongside my parents, I learned the value of a dollar, a strong work ethic, honesty, integrity and that government ought to get out of the way and off the backs of hard-working Americans. I believe that public service is a calling to protect the most vulnerable and serve a cause greater than oneself, and I have lived by that motto to tackle tough issues with bipartisan support.

• Cort VanOstran [D]

My first priority is to protect and expand access to healthcare, including defending Medicare and Medicaid, strengthening the ACA, working toward Medicare for All, protecting a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions, and treating the opioid epidemic like the public health crisis that it is. I will work to ensure that every child has access to high quality public education from cradle to college, as this is the bedrock of equal opportunity. I will also work to enact common sense gun reforms to keep our children safe, protect the environment, and get big money out of politics.

My experience as a class action litigator working on behalf of small businesses, farmers, and consumers who have been harmed has prepared me to fight for the people of this district in Washington. As a product of Missouri’s public schools myself, I will always fight for students and families in this district. My own experiences helping raise my siblings after losing my dad when I was a kid and caring for my mom while she battled cancer is shared by so many people in this district. I know that the policies made in Washing impact real people’s lives.

• Larry A. Kirk [L]

• David Justus Arnold [ G]


• Blaine Luetkemeyer [R]*

• Katy Geppert [D]

• Donald V. Stolle [L]


• Saundra McDowell [R]

The current auditor has a laundry list of problems in the office including employment issues and the auditors not being properly trained. The current auditor, appointed in 2015, has had poor communication with her staff resulting in low morale in the office and high turnover. The counties believe that the auditor’s office is working against them and going on fishing expeditions. My priority is implementing an “Every Dollar Works” five-step plan that includes auditing the auditor’s office, training the auditors, developing a best practices manual for all Missouri counties, auditing funds across the state and forming small research units within auditor’s office to audit more in-depth.

I’m a Christian, wife, mother, an Air Force veteran and an attorney with discipline and strong work ethic. I have already prosecuted Medicaid fraud with the state of Missouri as an assistant attorney general, working with and leading auditors and investigators to uncover fraud, waste and abuse in the Medicaid program; and as the director of enforcement for the secretary of state’s securities division. I have been instrumental in recovering over $10 million of taxpayer and individual funds back to Missourians. I will be the people’s auditor. I’m not a politician and I’ve never wanted to run for any other office.

• Nicole Galloway [D]*

• Sean O’Toole [L]

• Jacob Luetkemeyer [C]

• Don Fitz [G]

Politicians often promise fiscal responsibility and then advocate policies that do not actually solve problems. As auditor, I will examine finances that actually matter. This includes audits of purchases of Roundup and other herbicides for use on Missouri state parks and other green spaces [and estimate liability from the use of such chemicals]; financial relationships between energy companies [i.e. Peabody, Callaway nuclear plant] and Missouri departments; wasted tax dollars from privatized Medicaid dollars going to corporate insurance profits [in order to prepare for Medicare for all]; all costs involved with the criminalization of marijuana.

With experience coordinating work of varied staff, I will look beyond simple finances and explore social and environmental problems which produce wasted money. I will audit whether money obtained by the lottery which was supposedly dedicated to schools has been offset by other reductions in funding; potential costs to Missouri from health damage resulting from toxins in schools; and all costs associated with militarization of the police, mandatory prison sentences, solitary confinement and the death penalty. I will ensure that the auditor’s office hires staff at all levels who are reflective of the ethnic composition of Missouri’s population.


• Bob Onder [R]*

If re-elected, I will continue to work to “Make Missouri Great Again.” My priorities will be to cut taxes while creating more accountability in how your tax dollars are spent. I will protect innocent human life and secure your Second Amendment rights, which is why I am endorsed by Missouri Right to Life and the NRA. I will work to repair Missouri’s infrastructure and ensure an effective, exceptional education for every student. I will use my expertise as a medical doctor and businessman to improve choice, quality and affordability in health care.

I was elected in 2014 and chosen as Assistant Majority Leader, and this summer I became Majority Leader of the Missouri Senate. I have used these positions to work for the people of my district and all Missourians. I authored the bill Missouri Right to Life called “the most important pro-life bill in Missouri history.” I passed laws to allow ride sharing, allowing Uber and Lyft to come to Missouri, to allow students to take the “course access” courses they need to succeed, and to protect victims of human trafficking. I received the Freshman Legislator of the Year and Spirit of Enterprise awards from the Missouri Chamber of Commerce. I was a Trump delegate to the GOP National Convention. I am a medical doctor, a husband and a father of six.

• Patrice Billings [D]


• Tony Lovasco [R]

I’ve become increasingly concerned about the erosion of private property rights in our community. Accordingly, I decided to take action to ensure government sticks to its purpose and to protect individual liberty. My top priorities are 1] protecting private property rights. I will protect property rights of all individuals and businesses, regardless of the politics involved. 2] Reduce wasteful spending. I will only support necessary expenditures and will aggressively attempt to lower expenses. 3] Increase transparency. I’ll demand more transparency in county government, including changing meeting rules to better permit councilmembers to publicly respond to citizen’s concerns.

I have extensive knowledge of the County Charter and Unified Development Ordinance, passed the building department’s exam on the national electric code and have navigated their permitting process. With 17 years in sales and customer service, I can defuse stressful situations to create a positive outcome. I understand the importance of transparency in government, and will explain my reasoning for every vote I take. I defend liberty, even in support of those with whom I disagree.

• Shawn Finklein [D]


• Mark Matthiesen [R]*

After 20 years of hospitality management, I have worked with people from all backgrounds building teams to accomplish our goals. I have watched firsthand how state and federal policy affects real working Missourians. I wanted to run because I care about those people and to always provide a perspective in the Missouri House from a different angle than the typical representative. I will continue to prioritize education legislation like the “Creative Classroom Act” that supports our teachers and students. I will work with the DNR and EPA to ensure that we are focused on keeping families safe from environmental hazards like illegally dumped radioactive waste and industrial pollution.

My qualifications for office are based on a long history of operating businesses within the hospitality industry. Throughout those years, I wore many hats. I filled the roll of counselor, human resources, accountant, logistics operator, government compliance manager, health inspector and marketing director, and I served great food. The ability to multitask and build teams to accomplish goals that will benefit the real people of Missouri is what governance is all about.

• Paula Brown [D]

• Carol Hexem [G]


• Ron Hicks [R] 

I am running for this office to continue working for the voters in St. Charles County. My top priorities are less government interference, pro-life support, Second Amendment and helping small business. My votes in the past have been union-friendly. I vote with my district’s needs, not my own.

I have been the state representative for District 107 for four years. My family moved and I would like to finish the business I started and support the groups listed in my answer above. Our family is a third-generation small business and that experience also is beneficial to this position.

• John F. Foster [D]

I am asking for your vote as a strong, creative leader who acknowledges Missouri’s potential to grow. I often hear voters express frustration over certain aspects concerning how our district or state performs. Building an environment that expects, supports and rewards positive contributions from all is the solution. Improving education, investing in physical and mental health care, supporting skilled labor and economic development, challenging government corruption and emphasizing the value of calling Missouri home will always guide me in the legislature to “Foster a Better Missouri.”

I have worked to help people all my life as a respected educator, a trusted therapist, a coach and a community member. I strive to champion the rights, health, welfare and economic future of every member of this community, no matter their race, religion or identity. I am a 15-year resident of the district, an active Francis Howell parent, a proud church member and a true believer that St. Charles County is a great place to call home. I pride myself in being a perceptive leader motivated only by the voice of the voter.


• John D. Wiemann [R]*

My concern is for the well-being of our state and its citizens. I will protect the conservative values and individual freedoms of Missourians. I believe my 20 years of real-world, private-sector work experience, conservative common sense and family values allow me the ability to best represent the people of the 103rd District. If elected, I will get government out of the way and allow the free market system to prosper along with protecting individual rights and freedoms afforded by the constitution. I will support legislation to reduce burdensome regulations, lower taxes and reallocate government spending to focus on areas of need. I will support measures that create a business-friendly environment,  family-supporting jobs and economic growth. 

My experience includes 20-plus years of private sector business experience working for businesses of all sizes. I have completed two successful terms of service in the Missouri Legislature. I have a bachelor’s degree in business administration and master’s degree in health administration. I have two years of state government work experience [i.e., Missouri Secretary of State]. I have been a small business owner for the past 10 years, held numerous leadership positions in the private sector and non-profit civic organizations over the past 20 years and been an active member of many local community non-profit organizations such as: Assumption Catholic Church, St. Charles Lions Club, Lewis & Clark Pachyderm Club, JRGAC Youth Football League, Knights of Columbus, and local Boy Scouts Troops.

• Jim Klenc [D]

Every day as a lawyer, I fight to protect people’s rights and seek justice. I became a lawyer because I wanted to help people. I see no difference in how I will approach being a state representative. My main motivation in running is fighting for my son’s healthcare. He is battling cancer, and I understand the importance of the availability of affordable healthcare. My priorities include fighting for access to healthcare and protecting pre-existing conditions; fighting for workers’ rights by opposing right-to-work legislation and creating a policy to raise the minimum wage; and fighting for fully-funded public schools and supporting teachers.  

All of my life experiences, whether it is having a kid with cancer, going through a divorce, losing a job right before Christmas or advocating for my clients against large corporations and banks, have made me a stronger, more empathetic person. The greatest quality a politician can have is empathy. I know what it is like to need help. I know what it is like to have the struggles of everyday life. But I also know what it takes to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and fight back. I will fight for all residents of District 103.


• Adam Schnelting [R]

We are living in a time when many politicians would rather change our values than defend them. I’m running to defend our St. Charles County values in Jefferson City. My first priority is to listen to the people of my district – that is why I have personally knocked on over 15,000 doors to hear from them on the issues. Education, infrastructure improvement, tax reform and workforce development are other key issues that I intend to support and address in Jefferson City.

I’ve been a small business owner, a leader in my church and volunteer in many civic organizations that you can review on my website at adamformo.com. I have also been a legislative assistant at the State Capitol. I know how the legislative process works. Since there is a steep learning curve, my experience as an assistant puts me in a unique position to get a lot done for our district. That’s what we need for our community – a strong advocate. We need a strong voice in Jefferson City to represent our community.

• Peggy Sherwin [D]

My reason for campaigning for district 104 is to make our voices heard loud and clear. Our needs have not been met.  My priorities are to replace the funding in our education system. I am a firm believer that children are our No. 1 resource. We all want the basics in life, and health is at the top of that list. The importance of having a free country includes every citizen is provided healthcare regardless of the condition [mental and physical] – for the young and the elderly. Drug and opioid abuse is high on that list. Drugs have touched all of our lives in a devastating manner, let’s bring a halt to this deathtrap today.

My qualifications include my experience as a counselor at St. Charles Community College – 13 years – and as a manager for the homeless shelter at Salvation Army – 5 years. This experience has given me insight into the needs of this diverse community we live in. My duties included social work, budgeting, negotiations with administrative and employee personnel, and being able to compromise not divide. Economically many of us are good taxpaying citizens and I want to make sure our tax money is being spent to support the needs of as many people as possible in Missouri. I believe our departing representative, Kathy Conway, is a voice in this area, and like her, I want to continue to address the needs of District 104 in the great state of Missouri.


• Phil Christofanelli [R]*

I have a passion for defending the interests of suburban families. St. Charles County is the fastest growing county in the state because we have low taxes, good schools and safe streets. I have worked to bring that model to the entire state of Missouri by helping to pass the largest tax cut in state history, fully funding the education formula for the first time ever, and supporting our law enforcement by ensuring they have the tools they need to do their jobs. 

Over the course of the past three years, I have personally knocked on doors in my entire district over four times, meeting directly with constituents to learn their stories and views. In my first two years in office, I have brought our voice to Jefferson City by advocating for better state government. Prior to running for office, I attended Washington University in Saint Louis where I earned degree in political science. I have served on the Missouri Republican Party State Executive Committee and also as a press secretary for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. I have the education, skills and experience to deliver on the priorities for our community at the capitol, and I humbly ask for your support to a secon term.

• Scott Cernicek [D]

• Bill Slantz [L]


• Nick Shroer [R]*

It has been an honor to serve this district for the past two years. We have accomplished a lot, but there is still so much more to do to get Missouri back on the right track. My priorities will remain the same – standing up for the constitution, fighting for smaller government and lower taxes, and first and foremost, serving as a strong voice for the people of this district. As the people’s advocate, I will continue to fight for you and bring your voice to our capitol.

I am not a career politician, and I am not running for office to make this my job or to get my name in the news. I just want to give back to our community and fight for your concerns as your advocate, and I truly believe that makes me the best-qualified person to serve this district in the House. As general counsel for small businesses in our state, it is my job to fight for the clients I represent. Similarly, as your state representative, I will fight for we the people in Jefferson City as your advocate.

• Curtis Wylde [D]


• Justin Hill [R]*

I am running for re-election to continue my work toward improving the economic condition of our state which ranks 41st out of 50 states. Since 2011, Missouri has lost population to states with less tax burden, less government regulation and more jobs. I will prioritize reducing personal and corporate income taxes, promoting policies that bring jobs back to Missouri, reducing the size of state government, freeing up our health insurance markets from costly Obamacare mandates, and putting Missouri back on the path of growth once again.

I am the husband to my amazing wife, Mandy, of 18 years and am the father of four boys under the age of 12. I am a life-long Missouri resident, self-employed benefit consultant and former law enforcement officer. I have an undergraduate degree in management and will graduate in 2020 with a master’s degree in public administration from Liberty University. I value the principle of protecting life, liberty, and property from government overreach and look to continue serving the citizens of St. Charles County with integrity and honesty.

• Betty Vining [D]

I am not in this for a career, but to make a difference. It is my belief that it is the role of our elected officials to serve the people and pass legislation that will improve their lives and the economic well-being of the state, not themselves. My priorities are to make medical insurance affordable to all Missourians, starting by accepting the federal Medicaid supplement; ensure our public schools are fully funded and listen to the will of the people and supporting Missouri’s working families by opposing right-to-work legislation. 

I have been a teaching professor of business at the University of Missouri-St. Louis for almost 30 years, educating over 8,000 students. During that time I have worked with business leaders from multi-national corporations to develop programs designed to benefit the students, university and the community. I understand what makes an attractive business environment and intend to make sure Missouri has one of the best. I am also collegial. I like to bring people with different views together and find common ground. We will get more done for the people if we are less polarized and more civil.


• Joe Cronin [R]* 

I would like to continue to do work for St. Charles County. I think the last eight years have been productive, but more needs to be done. We are just opening the new Hwy. 61 overpass that took years of work. Next, I want to work on fixing the traffic mess on Interstate 70 and Hwy. 61. And I want to see that our budget stays balanced, and county taxes stay low.

I have served tn this office for almost eight years. Those whom I have worked with know how hard I work at it. I have lived, worked and raised a family in District 1 my entire life. I was elected County Council Chair last year and also served on County Planning and Zoning. I also served two terms as a St. Paul alderman, chaired the St. Paul Church picnic for six years, and have served on many corporate advisory boards.

• Cheryl Hibbeler [D]

We all want the same things. We want to be safe and healthy. We want clean air, safe water and good roads, parks and schools. We want our children to learn and play and grow and ultimately be successful. As a county councilmember, I will advocate for these goals while looking for efficient and cost-effective county operations. We want county leaders who listen and respond. Listening to the people of the district, my neighbors, and understanding what they want from county government will be my No. 1 duty.

I’m a lifelong St. Charles County resident preceded by eight generations who have lived in the county. My years working in transportation and logistics services and for a runaway and homeless youth shelter have given me real world experience in business and not-for-profits. I’ve served nine years in local government as an alderman and in county government. My 30 years in various charitable and community organizations has given me a deep understanding of what is needed by those groups.


• Mike Elam [R]*

I am running for re-election for County Council District 3 because I want to see St. Charles County continue on our current path. From our community health, education and safe neighborhoods, we are a leader in Missouri. I would like to help us continue so that everyone will have more opportunities and our children will be able to build a great future without needing to leave St. Charles County. My top priorities are keeping our citizens safe without restricting their freedoms, establishing a countywide port authority so that we can take advantage of economic development programs, and working with groups like Vision St. Charles County Leadership’s Protege to raise up future leaders and build on our success.

Qualifications for public office can be varied. In my opinion, one must first have a heart to serve others and a passion for the community. For more than 20 years, I have poured myself into St. Charles County by getting involved in community groups, such as Rotary, and helping numerous nonprofits raise money. My track record is giving back to serve and helping others while following a vision of making St. Charles County be the bar others strive to achieve.

• Christine Hedges [D]


• Terry Hollander [R]*


• John White [R]*

I have always helped the people in District 7 and I will continue to personally work with them and address any of their concerns and be a voice for them in my district. I will continue to preserve low taxes and strive to create more parks and conservation areas. I will continue to work for the Muegge Road and Heritage Crossing exit from Hwy. 364, and see it completed. The opioid epidemic in our county is a concern and I will work with the law and health officials to fight this and find solutions. I am supporting the Harris House that is currently being constructed in District 7, which is a medical facility that helps people with addictions.

During my years as a councilmember, I have worked with my constituents to see that their needs are addressed and worked closely with them for solutions to their problems. I have seen my ideas for county parks and trails become a reality. I am a board member of East West Gateway, representing St Charles County. I serve on the University of Missouri Extension board and am involved with many civic organizations in the county. I have lived in St Charles County and owned a business here for over 40 years. I will work to keep our county real estate values up and make sure it continues to be a safe place for our generation and future generations to enjoy.

• Paul Woody [D]

I’ll provide a more responsive, more effective representation to the district’s residents and businesses than the current councilmember. I will be responsive to residents, engaged in the community and in the business of the council. I will use my experience as an attorney to ask the tough questions and protect our neighborhoods and tax dollars, and provide a government that is helpful when residents need it and stays out of their way when they don’t.

I am an attorney and a business executive with a local, family-owned, business. I am a commissioner on the St. Charles County Convention and Sports Facilities Authority, which is a bipartisan, volunteer board, appointed to manage and promote the St. Charles County Convention Center. The Convention Center is one of only three profitable publicly owned Convention Centers in the country. More importantly, I have worked to earn the seat, spending five months knocking on thousands of doors, talking to voters about what they want from a local public official, and proving that I will be responsive to them once elected.


• Kurt Bahr [R]

Public service is my passion and life’s work. I have served as an Air Force budget officer and a state representative, and I would like to serve you as director of elections. The Election Authority’s responsibility is to keep the public informed, educate them on how to get involved in the process and inspire confidence that vote casting and counting are done with accuracy, security and integrity. One of my top priorities is creating more transparency and accessibility by educating and sharing information about ballots, candidates and elections through the internet, social media and speaking to local groups about the process.

Serving my country as an Air Force budget officer and deputy flight commander, serving my customers as a small business owner, serving my students as a government teacher, and serving my constituents for eight years as a State Representative along with my education in business and an M.A. in public policy give me the background and qualifications to serve as St. Charles County’s Election Authority with accuracy, security and integrity.

• John Callahan [D]

It is time to change the office of Director of Elections and establish a bipartisan Board of Elections. Our county has over 269,000 registered voters. Time to modernize the second largest voting jurisdiction in Missouri. Balanced party membership will ensure confidence in the election process. Many elections in our county are resolved in the primary. Bipartisan membership creates a value added for the voters and taxpayers. With a bipartisan board, we control risk and provide an election authority that is fair, efficient, accurate and visible. My mission upon election is to eliminate my job and reduce the cost and size of government.

I have a bachelor’s degree in business administration. I was vice-chair of the Home Rule Charter commission that reorganized the government structure of the city of O’Fallon. I am a member of the O’Fallon Elks and volunteer for their veterans committee. I am an elected member of the Fort Zumwalt School Board and an appointed member of the O’Fallon Missouri Board of Adjustment. I have been director of the No Hunger Holiday a 501[c][3] charity with a focus on Saint Charles County children and families in need and an officer with the Harvester Knights of Columbus as well as the Missouri vice president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. I am a resident of O’Fallon.


• Mary Dempsey*


• Tim Lohmar*


• Michelle D. McBride*


• Scott A. Lewis*


• Scott Shipman*

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