Christ and Derrington contend for seat formerly held by David Gregory in the 96th District

Brad+Christ%2C+left%2C+and+Leslie+Derrington

Brad Christ, left, and Leslie Derrington

By Erin Achenbach, News Editor

Brad Christ and Leslie Derrington, both newcomers to public office, will vie for the 96th Missouri House District seat in the election Tuesday, Nov. 8. The seat was previously held by Republican David Gregory, who ran and lost in the primary this year for state auditor against current Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick.

Christ lives in Sappington with his wife Erin and four children. He is an insurance broker at the Marsh McLennan Agency.

When asked why he was seeking office, Christ said, “I have four young children and my income earning years ahead of me. I am not pleased with the direction of the economy, politics or society. We need people with integrity and common sense stepping up and getting involved. I am running for this seat to make a positive change for our families and community.”

Derrington lives in Crestwood with her husband Glen McRoberts and three children. She is a stay-at-home mom.

When asked why she was running for representative, Derrrginton said, “To bring a down-to-earth and compassionate voice to Jefferson City and truly represent the people of District 96.”

The candidates gave the following responses to The Call’s questionnaire:

(Editor’s note: The following questions and answers appeared in the Oct. 20 print edition of The Call. They have been edited to fit in print.)

What issue do you consider the single most important issue in this race?

Christ: “The No. 1 concern I am hearing from voters as I visit with them on their doorsteps and at community events is the impact inflation is having on their family budgets and the need to get it under control. As a husband and father of four, I know my family is certainly feeling the impacts of higher costs at the grocery stores and gas pumps. As representative, I would work to combat inflation and give Missourians the tax relief they desperately need right now.”

Derrington: “Democracy is under attack in our state. We have seen an unprecedented attack on our civil rights from the trigger ban that makes abortion illegal to the restrictive voting legislation that is designed to leave would be voters out of the democratic process. We need honest leadership that is accountable to the people.”

Other issues you perceive in your race and your position on each:

Christ: “Crime is out of control in our region, and we do not have adequate funding to recruit and retain the number of officers we need to keep our families safe. I am proud to be the only candidate in this race endorsed by the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police and will work to ensure our officers have the funding and resources necessary to keep our families and communities safe.”

Derrington: “Health care is far too expensive and out of reach for too many Missourians. We should be working to ensure that people have access to quality affordable health care that is free from government overreach.

Our public schools need to provide Missouri’s students with a world class education yet, our state ranks at the bottom in funding our schools and paying our teachers … The climate crisis requires urgent action to prepare our state’s infrastructure if our children are going to have a future in Missouri.”

What is your position on abortion?

Christ: “I support a culture of life, and would advocate for legislation that focuses on compassion and support for mothers and children in difficult situations, including improved foster care and adoption systems.”

Derrington: Abortion is health care. Control over one’s own body is an essential civil right. Seven out of every 10 Missourians agree.”

What is your position on the death penalty?

Christ: “The death penalty should be reserved for the most heinous crimes where a matter of guilt or innocence is not in question. As a legislator, I would also address the issues that lead to crime; if the root causes are left untreated, we won’t be able to make headway on prevention and reduce the size of prison populations.”

Derrington: “I oppose the death penalty.”

What do you perceive to be the 96th District’s greatest challenges? How will you address these challenges?

Christ: “Our greatest challenges are finding a way to combat inflation as well as combating ideologies that sow division. We must continue to reject the pull towards socialism and the demonization of our law enforcement. I am endorsed by the police and will ensure our police and first responders are fully funded and our communities are safe. I will also fight tax hikes and cut red tape to help boost our economy.”

Derrington: “District 96 is in unique position. Our area is seeing growth in our schools which is a testament to our community’s commitment to great public schools. As the home prices soar, it puts a strain on our retired neighbors living on fixed incomes. We also have a shortage in quality childcare. These are two areas that state government can play a role by increasing funding for pre-K programs and working with seniors to lower their tax burden.”

What will you do to improve Missouri’s economy?

Christ: “Removing burdensome regulations, cutting taxes and providing a well-educated workforce are good first steps to boosting the economy. While the Biden administration has failed to help our small businesses and farmers, we can pick up the slack in Missouri by cutting red tape, eliminating harmful mandates and investing in infrastructure to make life a little easier for us all. The Missouri Chamber and the NFIB have endorsed my candidacy and recognized me as the candidate they know will protect and grow Missouri’s economy.”

Derrington: “We have a lot of work to do to improve our economy. I think we need to start with investing in the people that already live in Missouri. No matter how good the tax incentives are, we will not attract good jobs and experience economic growth without an educated workforce. I want industries that pay family-sustaining wages coming to Missouri. We also need to make bold investments in our infrastructure. We need leadership that believes in the full potential of our state, not just pleasing out of state donors.”

What is your position on tax-increment financing? Are changes needed to this law?

Christ: “The retail landscape has changed since the statutes were first enacted, and redevelopment hasn’t occurred where the laws intended. TIF statutes could be updated to respond to current retail conditions and used in truly blighted areas that would benefit from the economic activity and jobs defined in the statutes. I can understand arguments from various perspectives but feel that local governments should protect their constituents’ taxes and opportunities for revenue. However, it is a multi-faceted issue and local governments should have the freedom to do what is best for their communities without the heavy hand of state government dictating their decision.”

Derrington: “TIF has been abused. It favors developers and major corporations at the expense of citizens. We absolutely need to take another look at this law.”

Are changes needed to the state’s foundation formula for funding education?

Christ: “There is room for improvement in the formula, as it’s difficult to have precision when there are so many components that make up the formula, and the conditions in each school district change from year to year. That said, the state funds the foundation formula every year and did this past session with record levels of funding. We must continue to ensure that our teachers are getting the support they deserve and that our students are receiving the best possible education. Finally, accountability must accompany tax dollars.”

Derrington: “Yes. The disparities between school districts is too great, depriving too many Missouri children of the quality education they deserve.”

Are changes needed to the law allowing Missouri citizens to carry concealed weapons? If so, why? If not, why not?

Christ: “I am unaware of any proposed modifications to Missouri’s concealed carry law but, as your legislator, I would seek to protect the rights of law-abiding Missourians while increasing resources for school security and mental health treatment.”

Derrington: “Yes. Currently, anyone over 18 can walk around with a concealed weapon with zero training and zero background checks. Our gun-related crime is much higher than other states and it is 25-47 percent higher than before the state passed permitless carry. Voters tell me every single day that common sense gun legislation is needed.”

What do you propose to generate revenue for road and bridge improvements?

Christ: “There are ways to improve our infrastructure without compromising on low taxes. We can continue to review our state spending and ensure our tax dollars are being used wisely. In fact, Missouri had a surplus this past year. We can certainly fund our core state needs without a tax hike.”

Derrington: “We have $4.9 billion dollars in unspent revenue as well as federal money from the infrastructure bill. I believe we have the funds we just need leadership willing to invest this money in the state.”

Should police departments be defunded?

Christ: “Absolutely not. I fully support those who risk their lives to keep us all safe, am the only candidate in this race endorsed by the St. Louis County Police Association and the Missouri Council of Fire Fighters and will fight every day to ensure our local police and first responders are fully funded.

Derrington: “I don’t. I think it’s a difficult and dangerous job and we expect our officers to fill too many roles. They are a publicly funded department and as such the public should have a degree of public oversight. I also support programs that build positive relationships with the community.”