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SMITHVILLE — Republican candidates Josh Hurlbert and Deannette Lemons are facing off in the primary election for Missouri House District 12, a two-year seat being vacated by Ken Wilson due to term limits.

Each candidate was asked questions about the district and limited to 50 words per answer. Answers that exceed 50 words have been edited to the closest end of a sentence for fairness and end with ellipses (...). Responses are printed in alphabetical order of candidate’s last names.

The Republican candidate with the most votes in the Aug. 4 primary will face Democrat Wade Kiefer of Smithville in the November general election. Kiefer currently serves on the Smithville Board of Education.

Has the state adequately provided resources to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and provide for recovery efforts in House District 12? If not, how will you advocate for it to be changed, if elected?

Hurlbert: “Yes, the mantra to being with was #FlattenTheCurve. We have achieved that. Hospitalizations are down, (Intensive Care Unit) beds and ventilators are available and federal CARES Act funding has been adequately disseminated to the counties and cities to help our small businesses to recover from the pandemic.”

Lemons: “I think there’s a lot of issues that need to be addressed, a lot of laws that need to be changed. I think the people need to be able to vote on these laws more and address these issues, not just have someone else decide. Maybe just inquire with the public more ... .”

What is the biggest issue impacting transportation and related infrastructure in District 12 and how will you, if elected, work to resolve the issue?

Hurlbert: “As federal mandates and market forces continue to push consumers to buy more fuel-efficient and electric vehicles, the gas tax places more of the tax burden on rural and low-income families. This regressive model needs to be replaced with a 21st century user-fee model based on miles traveled.”

Lemons: “I do agree we have a transportation problem in District 12 that needs to be addressed and investigated as well.”

Are you in favor of Constitutional Amendment No. 2, which proposes Medicaid expansion for Missourians? Why or why not?

Hurlbert: “No. While Medicaid expansion is a worthwhile discussion, this constitutional amendment would only exacerbate the state’s $700 million COVID-related revenue shortfall with an additional $200 million in unfunded mandates.”

Lemons: “I am for Medicare expansion to enable Americans who can’t afford Medical help to receive the help they need.”

Do you think the state provides adequate and fair funding for all Missouri schools? If not, what will you work to change if elected?

Hurlbert: “Missouri has made a commitment and fully funded our schools for the past four years, something it was unable to do the previous decade. Now, we must look at how Missouri can relieve the regulatory burden on schools so more dollars can go into the classroom instead of administrative costs.”

Lemons: “I drove a school bus for many years and been affiliated with the schools for years. I don’t think teachers receive adequate pay or funding needed. I think (the) Board of Education is better paid than teachers and I feel that’s a problem. As far as money divvied out evenly across Missouri, I’m not sure …” (Editor’s note: Local Board of Education seats in Smithville are volunteer positions that do not receive pay. Missouri State Board of Education members receive $25 in pay for each day of an official meeting. In contrast, certified staff for the 2020-21 school year in the Smithville school district will earn a range of $37,300 to more than $73,000 annually.)

Northwest Editor Sean Roberts can be reached at or 389-6606.

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