The People's Tribune

40th District State Representative Candidates Forum 2020

Image above: Candidates vying for the position of the 40th District State Representative listen to MC, Brent Engel before their opening statements. Seated from left to right: Woodrow Polston, Ron Staggs, Heather Dodd, and Chad Perkins.

Last Tuesday, July 14th, the Pike County Courthouse hosted a forum for the Republican candidates vying for Missouri House of Representatives in the 40th District.

Current State Representative Jim Hansen has held the post for 7 years since being first elected in 2012. After 8 years of service to the 40th District, this is his last year as State Representative. He was ineligible to run again due to term limits.

With no Democratic challengers filing for the position, The August 4th primary takes will ultimately decide the district’s next state representative. The winner of the nomination will be seated in January 2021.

At Tuesday night’s forum, the audience heard from four of the five candidates: Elizabeth Dodd, Chad Perkins, Woodrow Polston, and Ron Staggs. Thomas Schultz was unable to attend.

Author, journalist, and area historian Brent Engel organized and moderated the event originally slated for 2-hours.

“Let’s have a frank, in-depth discussion on the issues facing Missouri. And, most of all, let’s be thankful for the privilege,” Engel encouraged the candidates and audience.

As with previous years, both the public and media were invited to submit questions for the candidates of which 10 were selected by Engle and members of the media.

Each candidate was allowed a two-minute opening and closing statement. They were also given two minutes to respond to each question.

To remain fair to each candidate, The People’s Tribune has added selected quotes below from their two-minute opening.

Chad Perkins

Chad Perkins – seated on the far right of the candidate’s table – was given the first opportunity to speak as Engel cycled through them right to left.

Perkins began by thanking Engle for facilitating the discussion and went on to describe his 20 years in law enforcement. An Alumnus of Bowling Green, he graduated from the Law Enforcement Training Institute of the University of Missouri in 2001. He was elected mayor of Bowling Green in 2010 to 2012. He mentioned that he is also a 5th generation resident of Pike County.

 “I think campaigns are about ideas, and we have some,” Perkins started. “We have a health insurance plan.”

Perkins described conversations with residents who received extensive medical bills from entities not necessarily tied to the hospitals.

Candidates Heather Dodd and Chad Perkins listen as members of the audience speak.

“They get an $8000 bill from the anesthesiologist because (the anesthesiologist) doesn’t work for the hospital. Then they get a bill from the lab because the labs are not affiliated with the hospital… Our plan states that if you intend to go to the hospital, they should disclose to you everyone who is not affiliated with the hospital which the insurance may not pay for them.”

“These plans benefit people,” Perkins continued after further explaining the idea. “Besides that, there are also budgetary issues, sales taxes that didn’t come in, and governing that needs prioritizing. There are complicated decisions that need to be made over the next six to eight months by the state of Missouri.”

Heather Dodd

Heather Dodd went next. She currently resides on a small farm south of Madison, Mo with her husband Jim. Together they have three sons who have each served in the military, the oldest of which is currently a police officer.

According to her website, she has been actively involved in the political process and worked with the legislature, resulting in the bi-partisan passage of two historical bills sponsored by Representative Don Phillips and co-sponsored by Representative Jim Hansen. Those two pieces of legislation modified outdated adoption laws, resulting in the Missouri Adoptee Rights Act.

Dodd currently works in the beef cattle industry and has a small hobby/business in genetic genealogy.

“My interest in politics did not begin with the standpoint of being in one party or the other. It began when people needed help with an outdated law,” she explained her help in the modification of adoption laws.

“I want to use the experience I have with helping people get the results they need. One thing that you got to remember is that whoever you choose, we are going to represent you as one of 163 representatives who will come together to make legislation. We can’t make any promises to change this or that, but we can make a promise to go there and represent you…”

Ron Staggs

Current Monroe County Commissioner, Ron Staggs of Paris, went third. Staggs is a retired businessman and cattleman, who briefly described his time in the US Marine Corps along with his work and political career.

Candidates Woodrow Polston (left) and Ron Staggs (right) weigh in on the issues.

Staggs served in the Marine Corps from 1967 to 1970. Afterwards, he worked for AT&T in costumer service, cable splicing, supervisor in outside plant construction, cable repair and served in St. Louis performing district analysis. According to his campaign announcement, the culmination of his career came as a Team Leader and software developer in 2000.

After retiring he established a small cow calf operation and was elected as Monroe County Commissioner in 2016.

“While working for the Southwestern Bell, which is now AT&T, I achieved a master’s in business administration from Maryville University,” he continued by describing his work as a Monroe County Commissioner and the difficult decisions. “I try to make my decision based on God’s call, the United States Constitution, and the Missouri Statutes.”

Woodrow Polston

Woodrow Polston was last to make an opening statement. He opened by talking about his company, Polston House Publishing, and writing career. In 2016, he and his wife launched their publishing house. “I’m happy to share that our company currently has five authors…”

Polston is also an author with more than five books on the subjects of theology and history. According to his website, he has numerous credentials in ministry.

He also serves on the Board of Directors for Pike Safe Neighborhoods and is active on social media.

“I’m an ordained minister for Christian outreach and youth minister in various churches,” Polston described his background. “I decided to get into politics through my prayer life. I felt God was calling me to step away from the pulpit and step into the political ring. My goal is to better serve people and helping them with their needs… There’s a wide range of things that need to change in Jefferson City as well as Washington DC.”

Polston resides in Louisiana with his wife and two children.

Two other forums were scheduled for the candidates to discuss issues facing Missourians in the 40th District and throughout the state. The next forum is schedule for July 21, 2020 in Paris, MO.

The People’s Tribune encourages residents to exercise their right to vote at the August 4th primary.

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