Old Drum Network
An Alternative News Source for Warrensburg and Johnson County Missouri

Candidate Comparison, November 5, 2002 General Election

121st Legislative District - Jim Jackson (Democrat) vs. David Pearce (Republican)

For Warrensburg Free Press

Arranged by topic, with interview questions and candidate answers. Candidate order was decided by coin flip and was alternated between topic groups. Topics include:
Tax Issues - School Issues - Gun & Crime Issues - Security Issues
Other Civil Liberty Issues - Government Issues - Environmental Issues - Economic Issues

Tax issues

What type of funding should be used to support highway improvement? Why?

Jackson: Since Proposition B failed overwhelmingly, it’s clear voters don’t want highway taxes in this form. The largest users should pay the most. If I-70 could be made a toll road across the state, then transient vehicles could pay for its repair and maintenance, leaving the funds now used available for other highways. Increases in funds overall could come from increased economic development: more jobs equals more gas tax. Voters want complete accountability to assure money is spent in the proper way. The Highway Commission must do this. Pearce: Defeat of Proposition B was no surprise and showed lack of trust in the highway department. Before any taxes are discussed, the 15 year plan must be addressed and the department reorganized for accountability. Toll roads should be investigated for main travel routes, after surveying the traveling public. Those who use highways the most should pay the most, and all gas taxes should go directly to road construction. The highway patrol and mass transit should be paid from the general fund. Comments: Positions seem fairly close
Should the Hancock Amendment be repealed, strengthened or remain as it is? Why?
Jackson: The Hancock Amendment makes sense in bad times; in good times it penalizes government by not allowing it to build reserves for bad times. Pearce: The Hancock Amendment should remain as it is, as the reasons are sound. Comments: Pearce seems to have a firmer grasp that the idea of the Hancock Amendment is to prevent the state from taking (and spending) excessive money during good times. It's excessive sepnding promises made when the state is flush that creates the problems in bad times.
Should the state place more controls on Tax Increment Financing? Reasons?
Jackson: Controls already exist if enforced properly and equally by the local responsible body. The area around Applebees would have developed much more quickly if the infrastructure proposed in the TIF had been built Pearce: Yes. TIF was originally for blighted areas that were not experiencing growth; now it is being applied to areas such as the Plaza and has been abused. Comments: While local control is desirable if TIF exists, this is another form of corporate welfare and should be very strictly controlled when allowed at all.
Why is the state in a financial crunch and what do you think should be done about it?
Jackson: Create economic development. Revenue hasn’t reached prior levels while spending anticipated higher revenues. Greater employment bases increase the tax base Pearce: Spending has grown - from $9 billion to $19 billion in 10 years. While tax credits and refunds have reduced funds, the slowing economy has been a factor. Comments: Pearce answered the first part of the question and Jackson the second. The tax credits and refunds Pearce speaks of were the result of the Hancock Amendment limitations. Jackson fails to note that the government does not create economic development; it can only remove hindrances it placed in the way - but he is correct that increased employment improves the state's financial status.
Would you support replacing income-based taxation with consumption-based taxation (i.e., sales tax)? Reasons?
Jackson: Tax based on income is a reasonable method, as long as it is fair and proportional. Pearce: Would need to see specifics before would endorse it and care would be needed to make sure it wasn’t regressive. Comments: Income-based taxation penalizes those who produce, jeopardizing jobs and discouraging savings and invstment. A national sales tax, exempting groceries and prescription drugs, would not be "regressive" and would eliminate the intrusive record-keeping now imposed on individuals.

School Issues
Under what circumstances would you vote in favor of reducing the supermajority requirement for school bond issues? Reasons? (currently bond issues require at least a 4/7 majority)
Pearce: Noting that similar efforts failed in the recent legislator and a petition drive didn’t gain enough signatures, would support placing this on the ballot. Jackson: Majority vote. A simple majority should rule as everyone has the opportunity to vote on issues. Comments: The supermajority is required since debt palces a load on the future, not just on the prsent. It makes sense that the need to incur debt must be more strongly supported and justified than a simple tax levy which can easily be repealed.
Would you support allowing schools to be funded by other than property taxes? What types of taxes? Reasons?
Pearce: Other sources of funding, such as allowing sales taxes, should be explored. Jackson: The sales tax is pretty high already and as a retail merchant would hate to see it go up further; sales tax is also generally allocated already. Need to find a better way than property taxes, but do not have specific suggestions. Comments: Isn't it time to examine what can be done besides throwing more and more money into ineffective government schools? If you must have these indoctrination centers, at least simplify the curriculum and require parental involvement!
How would you balance the desire of school boards to removing the standard school opening date (allowing schools to open whenever the desired) versus the opposition by the tourism industry?
Pearce: This should be a local decision and not dictated by the state Jackson: Use of the current “agriculture exemption” to a September start date has been stretched by many districts. The difficulty is in planning for teacher days, snow days, breaks and still having reasonable start and finish dates. Comments: Jackson hits the point here - too many scheduled breaks and non-teaching days! Tourism is one of the top industries in the state; it doesn't make sense to cut into a limited season. It also doesn't make sense for kids to start school in August and finish in June.
Do you believe that a “school voucher” system should be allowed? Reasons?
Pearce: Does not support school vouchers because it erodes funding for public education. Jackson: No. People pay taxes for public schools. Parents should be able to send children to any schools they desire but shouldn’t be funded by the state. Comments: People pay taxes to support education, not necessarily to support public schools. As in any monopoly, the government schools have been inefficient and inmany cases fail to educate students. Note that Pearce is a member of a school board.
Do you believe that term limits should be applied to school boards?
Pearce: No, not for unpaid volunteer positions. Jackson: Yes. Local positions should have term limits. I introduced term limits to Warrensburg City Council. Comments: An interesting contrast of views between the school board member and the former mayor. Some school board memebrs have served for 12 or more years. At some point, they begin to identify more with the school administration than with the constituents they serve.

Gun & Crime Issues
Under what circumstances would you vote in favor of concealed carry legislation? What restrictions would you include?
Jackson: Sees no serious problem with concealed carry, allowing for reasonable restrictions such as banning carry in mass gathering places (schools, churches, concerts) and requiring license holders to be trained in use. Pearce: Would have voted for proposals in the recent legislature but believes that the issue should be decided by public vote. Restrictions should include training on safety, when to use, liability, safe storage, etc. as well as places concealed carry should not be allowed, such as schools, public buildings, airports and banks Comments: Neither is fully acceptable to the firearms community. Pearce wants concealed carry only after a vote, when slanted press and fraud in the urban areas make it expensive to pass (Jackson doesnt say). Both ignore the facts that crime rates have declined where concealed carry exists and that few permit holders have committed a firearms related crime.
Under what circumstances would you vote in favor of firearm registration? Specifics?
Jackson: Not if purchased legally. Pearce: Does not believe state needs to be more restrictive than federal rules; background checks now required should be sufficient. Comments: Neither is an advocate of firearms registration, but neither said htey unequivocably opposed it
Should the state restrict private ownership of any firearms not restricted by federal law? Specifics?
Jackson: Not needed Pearce: No Comments: Both appear aware that semi-automatic firearms, the target of most gun-banners, are commonly used in most shooting sports. Neither made a strong statement opposing federal controls.
Should "armed criminal action" laws be more stringent for those who use a firearm in a crime, as opposed to other weapons? Reasons?
Jackson: If commit a crime with a weapon should be prosecuted to full extent. Do not see a need to differentiate by type of weapon. Pearce: Yes. Guns are easier to use from a distance so greater responsibility should be assigned for their misuse. Comments: Pearce is more correct on this one. The intent of the law was to discourage criminals from using firearms in preference to short range weapons. If all weapons are prosecuted equally, there is no disincentive.
Would you favor a lawsuit preemption bill to prevent cities from suing gun manufacturers?
Jackson: Not familiar with specifics, but as analogy, would not agree with letting someone sue a baseball bat company for misuse of a bat. Pearce: Yes Comments: This is a significant issue, since it's a back-door attempt to ban firearms by putting manufacturers out of business. Both appear to have a rational position.
Do you favor the death penalty? What sort of restrictions/controls should be used to prevent execution of innocent people?
Jackson: Yes, it is as a deterrent. The jury system provides adequate safeguards on executing innocent. Pearce: Yes. Certain crimes demand public retribution. Some restrictions are appropriate, such as the recently-passed prohibition on executing mentally handicapped. Mechanisms are in place to prevent executing innocent. Comments: Recent experience in other states has proved that innocent people are convicted and placed on death row. I believe that before anyone is executed there should be an uncontrovertible chain of evidence - absolute proof without any doubt of any sort, even unreasonable.

Security Issues
To what extent should civil liberties be restricted in order to fight the war on terrorism? Specifics?
Pearce: U.S. is basically at war and extraordinary measures may be needed. Law abiding citizens should have nothing to worry about. Jackson: Have to abide by constitution and can’t take rights at will without just cause. Authorities should have some latitude to stop a terrorist act before it is committed. Comments: I find it disturbing that a candidate is not disturbed by extra-constitutional measures when Congress has not issues a declaration of war nor suspended habeas corpus. Jackson's reply shows an awareness of the needed balance.
Should the government have the right to investigate a suspect’s computer without a warrant?
Pearce: Warrants should be required with just cause but the approval process for warrants should be streamlined and delegated Jackson: Warrants should be required, but sees no problem with secret searches if warrants obtained. Comments: Little difference of opinion here. Suspects should have the right to know at some point that they've been searched, especially if no charges come of the search. Proper delegation of authority to request a warrant is needed.
Under what circumstances would you vote in favor of a computerized ID card? Explain.
Pearce: From the point of view of the banking industry, current identification (typically drivers license) is easy to counterfeit. Would like to have ID systems that would be hard to counterfeit and be more fail safe. They should get away from using the social security number as identity proof. Did not address capture of other data on such a card. Jackson: Believes most people have sufficient identification now. Comments: Both have valid points. The greatest fear of those interested in civil liberties is a card that allows the government to track citizens' activiites.

Other Liberties Issues
Should state or local government should have the right to take property by eminent domain and provide that property to a developer? Reasons?
Jackson: Might be used in some cases, but not for commercial development. Pearce: Tends to disagree, but believes it must be looked at in case-by-case basis. Comments: Both agree that taking with compensation for government use, such as highways or public buldings, is legitimate. I detect some mushiness in their positions on taking for non-government use.
Under what circumstances (if any) should abortion be restricted? When should abortions or other "family planning" efforts be paid for with tax money?
Jackson: State shouldn’t have justification to stand between woman and physician and tell her what to do with her body. Minors should have parental involvement in decision. Family planning makes sense. Would not totally restrict state payment for abortion services. Would vote against constitutional amendment banning most abortions. Pearce: Believes abortion should be allowed in cases of rape, incest and physical danger to mother’s life. Believes both sides of debate should work on areas of common agreement, such as the recent “Baby Moses law” that allows mothers to turn newborns over to authorities without penalty. No tax money should be used for abortions and care is required in supporting family planning groups that also sell abortion services due to the possibility their counseling would not be objective. Would vote to ratify a constitutional amendment banning most abortions. Comments: A stark contrast in positions and the one non-local issue that could affect the election.
Do you believe the War on Drugs is a success or a failure? If a failure, what should the state do? What measures would you support in relation to recreational drug use? Medical use of currently outlawed drugs (such as medical marijuana)?
Jackson: Neither lost nor won. Need to continue fighting it as it affects so much in society. Does not favor significant changes in drug laws to liberalize or tighten. Would not support medical marijuana; would prefer alternate medicines be used if available. Pearce: This is ongoing battle worth continuing to fight. Opposes decriminalization of drugs and legalization of medical marijuana. Comments: Pretty much a knee-jerk response by both candidates. The adverse affect of drug laws on our prisons is ignored and the role of nanny state is suported. Especially disconceting is the unwillingness to examine medical use of marijuana which has been passed by referendum in several states.
Under what circumstances would you vote in favor of requiring all counties to be zoned? Have building codes? Who within a county should vote on such issues?
Jackson: Does not support state mandates. Notes that zoning only comes into play if neighbor is putting up something harmful to property owner, but should be able to do anything one wants as long as it doesn’t harm neighbor. Codes are safety issue. Should be a local decision but all county residents, including those in urban/zoned areas, should vote on the issue. Pearce: Oppose state mandates. Should be a local decision but all county residents, including those in urban/zoned areas, should vote on the issue. Comments: Neither response will satisfy the opponents of county-wide zoning. Neither stated support for or opposition to zoning in this county.

Government Issues
Do you believe term limits are a good idea?
Pearce: Yes. They should also be applied to state offices not now subject to limits (Secretary of State, Attorney General). Jackson: No for state legislature and congress, yes for local offices. Lose consistency at higher levels but local people are much closer to the local issues and reasons for decisions. Comments: Clearly on opposite sides of this issue, but this is not a major one.
Should state pensions be provided for service in term-limited offices?
Pearce: Yes. People put their careers on hold to serve and shouldn’t have to sacrifice retirement plans. Jackson: Not familiar with level of pensions provided Comments: Any pensions should be fully contributory. Since the intent is that these people be citizen legislators in a part time job, they should be amply paid when working and should not vest a pension with the 8 years they are limited to in either house.
What is a legislator’s responsibility to his constituents?
Pearce: To be accessible. Stay in contact with constituents via email, phone, personal contact Jackson: Represent views of constituents equally and fairly. This is similar to customer service by a business, with constituents as the customers Comments: Both recognize the constituent service aspect, but only Jackson mentions representing constituent views. Neither mentions going to the legislature to represent the principles and issues he stood for during the campaign.
Is it the proper role for state government to take money from one part of the state and provide it to another part through grants?
Pearce: Yes Jackson: Money is in the budget for the entire state, not for the part generating it. Comments: Both have a reasonable position, as long as one believes that the function of government is to redistribute money.
What should be the government’s role in supporting the Arts?
Pearce: Some things are positive. Cultural events help attract business. Aid should be to help establish an event, etc., rather than to provide ongoing support. With a tight state budget increases may be difficult to provide Jackson: Arts are important. Should support funding and also make government facilities available for the arts and culture. Comments: Given the answers to the preceding question, both answers are consistent. Pearce's position is a little more taxpayer-friendly, since it envisions events that become self-supporting.
Would you vote in favor of ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment?
Pearce: No. There are plenty of anti-discrimination laws. If ratified, it could be used to allow abortion on demand. Jackson: Yes. The idea that male & female may get unequal pay for a similar job doesn’t sit well Comments: The reasons for both answers are interesting. Jackson's reply indicates that he may be willing to support government regulation of wages.
Would you vote in favor of ratifying a constitutional amendment to prohibit flag burning?
Pearce: Yes Jackson: Yes. The symbol of our country needs a great deal of respect Comments: While I am angered by flag desecrators, I do not think we need to amend the constitution. It would raise many questions about such things a torn bunting, rodeo shirts, banners, etc., and would lend itself to arbitrary, capricious and selective enforcement

Environmental Issues
Should the state have stricter emissions controls than federal requirements?
Jackson: Federal rules are adequate Pearce: No Comments: No disagreement here.
Should the state further regulate septic requirements in rural developments? How?
Jackson: Current regulations are pretty good, fair and reasonable Pearce: Don’t know. Comments: Interesting responses, given that residential sewage has been a major justification for those who advocate county-wide zoning.
Should the state seek to regulate non-point source pollution (often agricultural based)? How?
Jackson: If there’s a specific problem, it needs to be addressed. Should recognize that nature can overwhelm normal farm controls. Pearce: Must differentiate between family farms and mega-farms Comments: An issue of importance to agricultural interests. Neither candidate is currently well-informed on it.
Should additional controls be placed on mega-farms? What?
Jackson: Confinement activities need to be environmentally sound whatever their size. Pearce: Mega-farms in other areas are still having spills under current controls. Comments: Large confinement operations should be financially responsible for infringing on the rights of pre-existing neighbors (including public property), either through waste spills or excessive odor or road damage.

Economic issues
What should be the state’s role in promoting industrial development?
Pearce: Be aggressive, try to attract industry but also need to work to retain existing industry. Can’t keep adding taxes and regulations because plants will close or move. The Department of Economic Development should have fewer people in Jefferson City and more out in the state. Jackson: This is very important. Too many industries have left the state. Should work to attract new industries, especially booming ones, either as new startups or to move from elsewhere. Comments: Pearce's position on the role of excessive regulation is well-taken. Both appear to believe that the state's proper role includes pirating industry from other states; these generally include tax incentives (corporate welfare).
What should be the state’s role in promoting commercial development?
Pearce: Tourism is very important, did not address other commercial development as state issue. Jackson: Commercial development should be a private development; state role would be to encourage progressive development. Comments: "Progressive development" is a euphemism for state planning.
What should be the state’s role in promoting non-highway transportation (airports, rail, mass transit, rail-to-trail conversions)?
Pearce: AMTRAK is a resource to the district and would like to see it continue. State needs to fight for river flows that support barge traffic, as alternate transportation does affect highway traffic. Urban transit is successful in St. Louis and all forms of transportation are subsidized to some extent. Jackson: AMTRAK is very important to the district and should be saved. Would like to see CMSU’s airport able to accommodate small corporate jets to upgrade student training opportunities and to encourage development of an industrial/office complex at the airport. Urban mass transit needs to be money making. Comments: Jackson's position on mass transit is more correct. Pearce brings up the Missouri River issue, which raises the question of whther wildlife or transport is more deserving of subsidy.
What should be government’s role in financing health care and prescription drugs?
Pearce: Believes this will be decided at Federal level. Supports Republican plan to condition assistance on age and income, including a pharmacy insurance program. Jackson: Would love to see affordable universal health care for everyone in state. Did not provide suggestion on how to pay for it. Comments: Jackson appears to believe that medical care at someone else's expense is a fundamental right. Pearce doesn't state a personal position; rather he takes the position that some of this care will be enacted.
Would you support malpractice reform or other tort reform? Clarify?
Pearce: Yes. Malpractice reform is needed because costs are especially hard on providing service to rural areas. Also need to look at overall liability/tort reform issues as everybody pays for higher awards through higher retail and insurance prices. Jackson: Sees conflict in malpractice reform. Lack of ceiling on awards limits insurance providers and raises rates, but a truly injured patient may need a substantial award to be able to live a decent life. Frivolous tort lawsuits should be thrown out of court. Comments: A "loser pays" system would limit speculative lawsuits while still giving truly wronged people their day in court.

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