In race to succeed Sifton in Senate, Beck and Lenihan stake out positions on the issues


Rep. Doug Beck, left, and David Lenihan, right.

By Erin Achenbach, Staff Reporter

Rep. Doug Beck, D-Affton, will face political newcomer David Lenihan in the general election Tuesday, Nov. 3, for the 1st District Missouri Senate seat currently held by Sen. Scott Sifton, who is term-limited.

Beck, 55, 9426 Brenda Ave., Affton, is the current state legislator for the 92nd House District. He was first elected as representative in 2016. He is a pipefitter with Corrigan Company and is married to Marilyn with two grown children, Kara and Corey.

Beck had some college education at St. Louis Community College as well as a five-year apprenticeship. He served on the Affton Board of Education from April 2009 to April 2019 and is a member of both the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 567 and the Affton Chamber of Commerce.

When asked why he was seeking the senate seat, Beck said, “I believe in serving my community.”

Lenihan, 53, 19 Kings Crossing Court, Oakville, is the CEO of Tiber Health and president of Ponce Health Sciences University, which has campuses in both Puerto Rico and St. Louis.

Lenihan is married to Karen Ahlemeyer and they have two sons. Lenihan holds doctorate degrees in neurosurgery and electrophysiology from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

“We need a vision we can all get behind. A vision that includes education, health care and a way to create new jobs. We need a vision that links all aspects of society to ensure everyone has a chance at success.”

The candidates gave the following responses to The Call candidate questionnaire:

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

Beck: “Our community is suffering greatly from the COVID-19 pandemic. We need a recovery plan that slows the spread i.e. a statewide mask mandate, and more PPE to our frontline workers. We must also ensure schools and businesses open safely and ensure small businesses and families recover economically.”

Lenihan: “Creating opportunities for all of us by working to establish an environment for job creation, expanding technology in education and increasing access to healthcare by reducing costs. This is what I have been doing for 15 years and why I am investing in Saint Louis to help create over 450 jobs in our community.”

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

Beck: “The safety, health and well-being of our community is always top of mind. Our police and first responders must have the resources they need. We need to expand job training programs so anyone can provide a decent life for their family. And in the senate, I’ll make sure Medicaid Expansion is implemented.”

Lenihan: “We need to provide a vision of Missouri and Saint Louis that entices business to be innovate and creating new jobs. This must include expanding our technology in education, investment in infrastructure and making healthcare affordable. Our political leaders need to represent all of us, not just in Missouri, but globally. We are not just competing against Illinois or Kansas, we are competing in a world market for investments, jobs, and reputation.”

What is your position on abortion?

Beck: “Women should have the same rights that I do to make their own healthcare decisions.”

Lenihan: “Pro-life.”

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

Beck: “Yes. Our foundation formulas was already lowered by $500 million prior to 2017. For some schools, that meant classes had to be reduced to four days per week. This year, Gov. Parson cut $131 million from K-12 education. Missouri has roughly 70 school districts going four days a week. Until elected officials can come together to fully fund schools, we will fail to provide all Missouri children with an education that prepares them for the future.”

Lenihan: “Yes – changes need to ensure that resources, such as technology investments, occur each year and that funds are available to provide options to students where courses are not available. I have worked in Universities where these investments were made and understand how to make them successful and enhance the educational experience for the teacher and student.”

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

Beck: “Our state should require that if lawful citizens want to carry concealed, that they receive the proper training to do so.”

Lenihan: “No. The Legislature has acted repeatedly over the last decade to protect Second Amendment Rights of law-abiding citizens.”

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

Beck: We should raise the fuel tax on semi-trucks to help pay for roads and bridges. Trucks do the most damage to our roads. Using money from the state’s general revenue would leave us in worse shape because we are going to be facing declining revenues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Lenihan: “I agree that increasing funding for transportation is required to drive investment to the state and create jobs. I would support increasing the State’s general revenue contribution to the transportation budget.”

Would you support legislation to facilitate a merger of St. Louis County and St. Louis city?

Beck: “The decision should be left to the voters of St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis.”

Lenihan: “No.”

Should there be a statewide mask mandate?

Beck: “Absolutely. This is not an urban/suburban versus rural issue. Cases are increasing in our rural communities, which risk overwhelming the already limited hospitals in those areas. Until there is a vaccine, the best way we can protect others is to wear a mask and practice social distancing.”

Lenihan: “No. The local governments, not the State, should have domain on when and where a mask mandate is placed. In rural parts of the State or areas where infection rates are minimal, there should not be a mask mandate. As circumstances change the local officials need to act based on the information at the time.

“Also, who would enforce a mandate and what would the penalty be for not wearing a mask? I am also concerned about children under the age of 10 being required to wear a mask, especially at school and while playing sports. A significant part of early childhood development is understanding facial expression. I am concerned that requiring a mask for these children is creating a potential developmental issue in years to come.”

What do you think of the leadership of Gov. Mike Parson?

Beck: “Gov. Parson has failed to lead our state out of the COVID-19 pandemic. He did not support Medicaid Expansion or CLEAN Missouri which the majority of voters in our state did.”

Lenihan: “I support Gov. Parson’s investment in workforce development and job training. These programs ensure that all Missourians are given the tools for economic success. I also support the governor’s ability to make a decision in these difficult times. A true leader is able to make the call – Gov. Parson has done that.”

What bill would you sponsor as your first legislation post-election?

Beck: “One of the first bills would be to require the state to store personal protective equipment (PPE) so we don’t repeat the issues we had at the state of the pandemic so our front line and essential workers have what they need. We would rotate the stock by keeping it new for future crisis.”

Lenihan: “The protection of our digital security, especially in healthcare. I would propose legislation that would restrict the capturing of a cell phone location within 20 yards of a healthcare facility (hospital, doctors office and pharmacy). This would ensure that preexisting conditions or possible future illnesses, that we are having assessed, are not sold to third parties or used against us. This is a bill both parties can get behind and one that would protect every Missouri citizen.”

Should the Missouri Attorney General be given subpoena power to investigate Sunshine Law violations?

Beck: “This should be under the purview of the Missouri Ethics Commission.”

Lenihan: “Yes, the Attorney General should have every tool to investigate crime especially when they deal with the public trust.”

What do you think of the state’s COVID-19 response?

Beck: “Leadership has failed Missourians by not implementing guidelines by the CDC.”

Lenihan: “There is no easy answer to this question. First while any death is one too many, it is important to compare our response to that of others. It is easy to criticize after the fact but given the fastmoving nature of the pandemic, we were able to ensure that there were sufficient hospital resources to treat sick patients without completely destroying our economy.

“I do believe that data shows Missouri has done fairly well compared to other states in its handling this crisis.

“Missouri is one of only three states are seeing a decline in new COVID cases as the nation sees its highest daily rate of new infections in nearly two months. Only Texas, Missouri, and South Carolina saw a drop in new infections.

“Missouri is averaging significantly less deaths from COVID-19 than the U.S. average. This is most likely because of the early investment in ICU beds and ventilators. States like New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts are averaging five times the number of deaths from COVID-19 when compared with Missouri.

“When the Coronavirus hit in April the Missouri unemployment rate spiked to 10.2 percent. In July, it dropped to 6.9 percent — well below the national average. Missouri’s unemployment rate has been either below or equal to the national average for 65 consecutive months.

“According to LinkenIn’s Workforce Confidence Index, Missouri is the top state for Workforce Confidence by +33, over twice the national average of +15.”

What changes should Missouri make to its health-care system?

Beck: “First and foremost, the legislature should implement Medicaid expansion. The state should strengthen the Affordable Care Act to give folks more choices and make sure pre-existing conditions are covered.”

Lenihan: “There four important changes that need to occur to the Missouri healthcare system. First, we must fight to ensure that individuals are not discriminated against for pre-existing conditions. Second, we need to significantly reduce burdensome regulations that have and are driving costs higher. Third, the State must negotiate as a collective for prescriptions to reduce costs. And fourth, we must encourage competition in the healthcare marketplace offering more providers and policy choices. These changes will help reduce costs and improve quality for all Missourians.”

Do you support right-to-work legislation?

Beck: “No. I worked to defeat the Right to Work legislation and will always fight for our working families and I voted NO on Proposition A (Right to Work) in 2018. I am the only candidate in this race who stood up for workers by actively campaigning and voting against Proposition A.”

Lenihan: “No. I work closely with union contractors when building new facilities.”

Read on for web exclusive questions and answers.

What is your position on the death penalty?

Beck: “Until we can be sure beyond the shadow of a doubt the accused are guilty, I will be against it.”

Lenihan: “I  am opposed to the death penalty.”

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

Beck: “We need to put an end to the abuse of tax increment financing (TIFs). Your hard earned tax dollars should be used to serve you. Too often, TIFs are taking money away from our schools and fire departments. TIFs should only be used in blighted areas and not given to a Walmart so they can be moved down the street for a new location.”

Lenihan: “Tax-increment financing (TIF’s) are useful to drive investment into communities where resources are needed. However, if a TIF is used to move a Walmart or Mercedes dealership three blocks down the road, then I am against. The project must generate significantly more tax revenue than the amount of the TIF.”

Would you support placing a constitutional amendment before voters that, if approved, would repeal the supermajority requirement for school-district bond issues?

Beck: “Yes.”

Lenihan: “I would not support guaranteed (constitutional) general revenue bonds because this would make all residents liable for the obligation regardless of any economic situation.”

Are changes needed to the state’s current Open Meetings and Records Law? If so, what would you propose?

Beck: “Open meetings and sunshine requests for records are essential for government transparency.”

Lenihan: “I would support legislation that would ensure that our political leaders cannot use technology that destroyed records or prevents them from being created and / or read. Examples of this are Confide accounts or messaging applications like Signal. My position is to have more transparency in government.”

Are changes needed to the state’s eminent domain laws to prevent abuse?

Beck: “Eminent domain should only be used in rare cases where there is a great public need to do so.”

Lenihan: “Yes. I will fight against the government taking private property for the sole purpose of increasing tax revenue. We need to ensure that eminent domain is used only for projects of substantial community need. It must not be used for politician’s pet projects.”

What will you do to improve Missouri’s economy?

Beck: “Our most immediate need is to ensure small businesses and families recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. We must invest in Missouri families by creating more job opportunities through trade schools and community colleges. Our K-12 schools need to be fully funded. Missourians need people in government that can work together to grow our economy and expand opportunities for all.”

Lenihan: “Personally, I am investing in a new hospital and University with a medical school in Saint Louis. These ventures will create over 450 new jobs, improve healthcare, and create opportunity in education for individual that are often overlooked. Part of the hospital is a new psychiatry center to help assist the region deal with crime by addressing individuals with mental health and addiction needs.

“The medical school will focus on improving healthcare by increasing the number of culturally competent doctors in areas where they are needed. There are over six counties in Missouri that do not have a doctor and twelve with one physician or less. Missouri ranks third in the worst healthcare states behind Texas and California because we are not able to provide healthcare resources to areas of lower socioeconomic status. My goal is to change that by building health and education resources in those areas. Each new doctor that works in a healthcare shortage region creates over $2m worth of economic activity annually and significantly increases the patient’s outcomes.

“The purpose of this is to show how tackling these issues head on will improve the life of all Missourians and drive investment to the State. Healthcare represents over 20% of our U.S. GDP and is the main creator of jobs.”

Do you support the changes the Legislature made to the Sunshine Law in 2019, including exempting some legislative records?

Beck: “I don’t support efforts to undermine government transparency.”

Lenihan: “No, but I do support ensuring that all of the constituent’s personal information is protected from unnecessary intrusion.”

Should police departments be defunded?

Beck: “Absolutely not.”

Lenihan: “No. There should be increased investment in our police with body cameras, increased training, and access to mental health services.”

What will or have you done to work across the aisle in Jefferson City?

Beck: “I work across the aisle all the time. The legislators agree on issues probably 95 percent of the time. It’s the controversial issues that get most the press and gives the impression we don’t work together.”

Lenihan: “Creating opportunities for everyone, regardless of political affiliation, is something I have been doing for the past 20 years. Recently, I have been working across the aisle with Democrat officials including Representative Clay and Alderwoman Hubbard and with the Carpenters Union to build a new hospital and University in Saint Louis. This will create over 450 new jobs and improve the access to healthcare in Saint Louis.”

Should there be a statewide mask mandate?

Beck: “See above answer – Yes. Every state that has implemented a mask mandate has seen their injection rates go down. As of this survey, Missouri is hovering at a 14 percent infection rate.”

Lenihan: “No. The local governments, not the State, should have domain on when and where a mask mandate is placed. In rural parts of the State or areas where infection rates are minimal, there should not be a mask mandate. As circumstances change the local officials need to act based on the information at the time.

“Also, who would enforce a mandate and what would the penalty be for not wearing a mask? I am also concerned about children under the age of 10 being required to wear a mask, especially at school and while playing sports. A significant part of early childhood development is understanding facial expression. I am concerned that requiring a mask for these children is creating a potential developmental issue in years to come.”

With fewer than 50 percent of rural Missourians having access to high-speed internet service, should Missouri’s newspapers continue to be the medium in which all public notices required by law are published and distributed in print to provide due process to those persons affected by the public notices?

Beck: “Yes.”

Lenihan: “Yes. It is important that all citizens in the state have access to receive important government information and notices.”

Should members and staff of all public governmental bodies (including state, county and local, and public colleges and universities) be prohibited from downloading or using software designed to send encrypted messages by electronic means that automatically self-destruct on communication devices purchased with public money? In other words, should the Confide app or other such software be prohibited from use because such apps are capable of destroying public records that should be available to citizens?

Beck: “Yes.”

Lenihan: “I would support legislation that would ensure that our political leaders and government employees cannot use technology that destroyed records or prevents them from being created and / or read, such as the Confide or Signal apps. My position is to have more transparency in government.”

Do you support the changes to “Clean Missouri” that are on the ballot as Amendment 3?

Beck: “No. I support what voters passed in 2018. This is simply an attempt by the Republican politicians to pick their voters instead of the voters picking legislators.”

Lenihan: “Yes. I would like to see more transparency in the contributions to an individual candidate to Political Action Committees providing a line to who is providing the monies. For instance, my opponent is accepting $100,000’s campaign donations and funneling the monies through a PAC violating the voter’s intent of Clean Missouri. I also support a total lobbying gift ban as provided in Amendment 3.”