Four Democrats face off in primary for 2nd district congressional seat

By Kari Williams

Four candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination for the 2nd District congressional seat in the Tuesday, Aug. 7, primary.

Glenn Koenen, George “Boots” Weber, Harold Whitfield and Marshall Works are vying for their party’s nomination.

Asked to identify the most important issue in the race, the candidates responded:

• Protecting and stabilizing Social Security and Medicare — the primary safety net for most American seniors,” Koenen said.

• “I feel the two most pressing problems are the health programs and after recently undergoing chemo(therapy) for a deadly form of cancer will be the only candidate who has lived through the trauma that all of your readers will have in store for them some day and that is a unique experience,” Weber said.

“Second, and even more important, is the coming fall of the dollar, as our leaders have set the stage for the dollar to be replaced as the world currency after 39 years of this leadership. It will be the end of our present form of capitalism and a new world will come about. But no one will talk of these issues. Why?”

• Whitfield did not respond to the Call’s questionnaire.

• “Unemployment/economy — both are in dire need of improvement,” Works said.

Koenen, 55, of Oakville, and his wife, Peggy, have one child. He is a retired executive director of Circle of Concern.

Koenen said he is seeking office to “work for the good of all families.”

Weber, 87, of Eureka, and his late wife, Roberta, have six children. Weber is a former farmer and real-estate broker.

A former state representative, Weber said he is seeking office because: “No one has 50 years of political experience, as most were not even born when I was directing the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation in its glory years of growth, 1951-1961, which lead to the 1964 election.”

Works, 58, of Ballwin, is an insurance broker.

He said he is seeking office because “incumbents are not doing job they were elected to do.”

The candidates gave the following responses to a Call questionnaire:

Koenen said, “I am personally opposed to abortion, but it is clear that is legal and that status will not change.”

Weber said, “I have always opposed abortion and am active in pro-life work, even support American Democrats for Life.”

Works said, “Regardless of my personal beliefs, that decision should be left up to the woman, her God, her doctor and her family.

• What is your position on the death penalty?

Koenen said, “Against.”

Weber said, “I will probably be the only candidate who toured the old Jeff Prison as a representative and then later in my corrections training spent two weeks working in the prison, including death row and sitting in the gas chamber getting the feel of this question. As a congressman, I won’t be sitting on many panels relating to this, so I guess we should allow each state some freedom on the issue.”

Works said, “It should only be used in the worst cases where there is absolutely no doubt as to guilt and innocence.”

Koenen said, “Privatizing Social Security is too risky: a tremendous number of seniors will have just Social Security for their retirement.”

Weber said, “I hope we can adjust Social Security to keep in touch with the economics to come. The disability fund, allowing early payment, is in its final hours. But people are living longer for one reason or another, so we will soon be facing hardship to fund it as it is now. I do not favor privatizing.”

Works said, “No. There are any number of ways to do it, including raising the cap on income.”

Koenen said, “Americans have a right to own guns. Current federal law is sufficient — provided background databases keep convicted felons and others who should not buy guns from buying them.”

Weber said, “As a military person and hunter on the farm, I became a part of (the) NRA, but in replying to questions from other groups, I had to draw the line on 50-caliber weapons, especially as I became aware that we are buying about 2 billion rounds of ammo per year getting ready for when the time comes about its needs.”

Works said, “Certain military weapons should be kept out of the civilian population.”

Koenen said, “I can’t support vouchers when core funding for public education is insufficient. Unfortunately, Congress doesn’t have the money for substantial new aid to local schools.”

Weber said, “Education. My home adjoins the Eureka High School grounds, and I have watched a $43 million dollar issue be voted down this spring. Homeowners are being taxed pretty high here, which discourages new buyers and home sales have almost stopped. Even our church schools are hurting as the economy grinds along slowly, so these users are being taxed double. Right now, I do not support vouchers.”

Works said, “That is a state by state issue.”

Koenen said, “Efficient oversight stretches tax dollars. No tax increases on those making less than $250,000 per year. Tax credits for money spent on professional trade schools or colleges are worthy of consideration.”

Weber said, “At a recent street party in Eureka, one of the good people attending the relative cheap night out made the comment along the lines that we do not believe in birth control as she watched the hundreds of youngsters there. That is one thing why I am involved, trying to find adequate answers to our future problems.”

Works said, “Go to a progressive, flat tax that everyone participates in.”

Koenen said, “I support a constitutional amendment to define and protect privacy. We live in an age where law-abiding citizens are considered threats until we prove ourselves non-dangerous.”

Weber said, “I mentioned early about stockpiling ammunition, and our area is a meth cooking area that is being monitored heavily. I even hear that drones are being used in some cases. As things get tougher, we might be in a jam.”

Works said, “Yes, the rumored use of drones on U.S. soil is very problematic.”

Koenen said, “The ARRA softened the blow on working families. It was not as cost-effective or targeted as it should have been. In the often chaotic atmosphere of Washington, it was probably the best bill which could get passed.”

Weber said, “I think one of the weakness of the recovery has been to use the funds for huge projects, which has led to substantial losses. I applied for a grant which was on a much smaller scale, seeking a modest amount to attend school for appraisal work to get a permanent license and which would make work for three people, me, a secretary and a field man. I already had a temporary license, so it was a shovel-ready project, but not even looked at.”

Works said, “No. We still have 8-plus percent unemployment and we are several trillion more in debt.”