In the August primary for state House District 8, voters will select the next representative from four Republican candidates: Gary Stroud, Darlene Breckenridge, Randy Railsback and David Woody as no Democrats filed for the office. Incumbent Jim Neely is being term-limited out of office and cannot run for reelection. He is currently running as a Republican primary candidate for governor.

Each District 8 candidate was asked questions about biographical details and where they stand on issues impacting the community. Breckenridge chose not to answer the Courier-Tribune questionnaire.

Each candidate was limited to 50 words per answer for each of the issue-related questions. Answers longer than 50 words are cut off at the closest end of the sentence and have an ellipsis (...) added in place of the remaining words. Answers are printed in the order they were received.

As the state budget has been cut including restricting $123 million from the education foundation formula, do you think the state provides adequate and fair funding for all Missouri schools? If not, what will you work to change, if elected?

Woody: “The question of adequate education is, I believe, too narrowly focused on only the dollar amount on the budget. Parents being able to make a decent living, be at home with reasonable hours and keeping them together with their kids is a huge factor in the success of children.”

Stroud: “For the most part, the state does an adequate job. If elected, I would like to work on raising teachers salaries. Also, rural schools may want to consider going to a four-day week to make their schools more marketable and possibly retain some teachers.”

Railsback: “No, the state has not provided adequate funding for education, but I understand the issues with revenue shortfalls because of COVID-19. As a state, education should be one of our priorities. I would look for other less vital areas that could be cut to make sure education is adequately funded.”

Has the state adequately provided resources to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and provide for recovery efforts in House District 8? If not, what will you advocate for to be changed, if elected?

Woody: “Most of the world failed to realize the threat soon enough. The nation and the state failed in some regards to respond to the full breadth of the crisis. Sen. Josh Hawley’s paycheck protection program would be a step in the right direction.”

Stroud: “The state has done as well as can be expected closing down and trying to reopen and making sure people are safe when the procedures changed every week. If elected, I will help draw a plan of action for pandemics or other disasters.”

Railsback: “State assistance came in the form of guidance and recommendations from state leadership to county health departments and county commissions. Almost all funding has come from the federal government through the CARES Act. The state of Missouri is suffering from budget shortfalls due to COVID-19, so it has limited ability to respond financially. ...”

Do you think rural Missourians in your district need better access to high-speed internet service? If so, how would you work, if elected, to better equip rural areas and help close the digital divide?

Woody: “Absolutely. It is a burden that residents must relocate to get average internet access, especially right now with many working from home. And, with school coming up, our system will be challenged. Infrastructure is one of my top priorities, and that includes funding the projects necessary to bridge the internet gap.”

Stroud: “High-speed internet is important to rural Missouri. Rural businesses and farms need fast and reliable internet. COVID-19 showed us that we need it to hold school. If elected, I will work hard to ensure rural America has high-speed internet and takes advantage of all federal and state funding.”

Railsback: “Yes, our rural areas definitely need better access to internet broadband services. At the present, the Missouri Office of Rural Broadband has a staff of one person. The task of coordinating state and federal funding is more important than just one person can handle. Municipalities should be given the opportunity to play a role in providing internet services if those services are not being provided adequately by private sources. ...”

Southeast Editor Kellie Houx can be reached at kellie.houx@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6630.

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