By Gloria Lloyd
Residents of south county and Jefferson County in the 97th Missouri House District who have gone unrepresented since September will elect a new state legislator in a special February election.
Republican David Linton and Democrat Mike Revis, both of Fenton, were chosen by their parties last month to compete in the Feb. 6 election. They are vying to replace Rep. John McCaherty, R-Fenton, who resigned Sept. 16 to focus on his campaign for county executive in Jefferson County.
The House district is mostly in Jefferson County, but includes some areas of Concord in south county around Meramec Bottom Road and Hagemann Elementary.
Tesson Ferry Township committee members of both parties voted on who should run for the seat along with representatives of the Jefferson County townships in the district. Both were selected unanimously by party officials.
The two are trying to cram a year’s worth of campaigning into just a few months.
Linton is an attorney. He and his wife, Judy, have three daughters and grandchildren. His father, former Rep. William “Bill” Linton, served 16 years in the Missouri House representing a district around Wildwood before term limits were imposed.
He graduated from the Missouri University of Science and Technology at Rolla with a degree in chemical engineering, then went to law school at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He worked for Union Electric Co., now Ameren, for 20 years, then started his own law practice. While working as a lawyer, he earned a master’s degree from Covenant Theological Seminary in exegetical theology, the examination of how the ancient languages from the Bible translate to today’s terminology.
Revis, also a native of the area, graduated from Rockwood Summit High School, where his mother and sister are still teachers.
After graduating from Mizzou, Revis took a job with Amazon in Dallas but then jumped at the chance to return to St. Louis by taking a position with Anheuser-Busch InBev. He works as a purchasing manager for the company.
Although they are now on different sides of the aisle, Linton and Revis share an interest in politics, but for different reasons.
“I guess you can almost go back to my high-school days when my mother kind of rescued me from socialist indoctrination in my school, got very involved in my education, and I developed a passion for understanding the basis of our constitutional government,” Linton said. “I’m very much a first-principles kind of a guy.
“I really have become concerned that we’ve lost the underpinning philosophy of what government is supposed to do.”
When it came time to run for office, “I said it’s time for me to give back and give that message to our state,” he said.
Revis comes from a family with several teachers and laborers who gave him a natural interest in such issues as labor, education and the working class. His father is a carpenter and his mother is a teacher.
“So that’s always been something near and dear to my heart is those types of working-class people and wanting to make sure that they get their needs heard and that people are looking out for the working class,” Revis said.
He once interned for former Gov. Jay Nixon, but he became more active in politics when Gov. Eric Greitens took office earlier this year and swept right-to-work legislation through the General Assembly.
“That was a huge concern for me, just knowing the number of families that would be impacted by something like right to work,” he said. “So that’s what really got me motivated to run.”
Coming from a family of teachers, he is also deeply invested in properly funding education in the state, despite recent efforts to cut education budgets.
In meetings in south county, he has learned that keeping state funding for buses to school, not just for schools themselves, is also a key concern. He hopes to protect that funding if elected.
Education seems to be getting crunched from all sides, Revis said. At the same time education budgets are tightened, new federal tax reform could remove the tax credit for teachers who pay out of their own pockets for supplies.
“If we’re not going to provide the proper funding, but then we’re also not going to make it easier on teachers who choose to pay out of pocket, we’re really crippling ourselves when it comes to education,” he said.
He also supports funding health care for senior citizens, one of the recent hot topics in budgeting in Jefferson City. He opposes those types of cuts.
“For people who are older in our area and need it the most, we’re losing our ability to provide the proper care for them too,” he said. “That’s another one that affects me personally with seeing older people that I’m close to.”
If Linton makes it to Jefferson City, he said his style would be similar to McCaherty, who has been a “fine representative” and is a friend of Linton’s.
The two candidates may differ on other issues, but they both support gun rights.
Revis is a gun owner and strongly supports the right to bear arms, he said.
“I do believe in the Second Amendment and people’s right to own guns, but at the same time, I am also a proponent that people do so responsibly and that they are educated before making a purchase,” he said.
Linton said, “Besides being pro-life and very pro-Second Amendment rights, I’m supportive of all of the Bill of Rights. We need to protect those. I surround those convictions with the conviction that our government has just grown too big. It has done things and is doing things that it has no business doing. Government exists primarily to secure the borders and execute justice, but it does so many other things that it’s failing in those two regards.”
Today, government does everything it’s not supposed to, so Linton will champion any measure designed to reduce its size, including shrinking Medicaid and other government programs, he said.
“We authorize the taking of life through abortion. We authorize the confiscation of people’s liberty by overtaxing them, and we take their property away in the same fashion,” Linton said. “They’re regulated to death, and their property is regulated.”
Part of the problem in society today is that people expect government to do too much for them, he said.
“When you start legislating compassion, you destroy compassion,” Linton said. “When you make compassion a right, people start shifting their thinking from how can I help to what can I demand? And we have to start thinking about returning passion to people that can be compassionate, not to people that start riots. The reason we have riots in our streets now is people aren’t looking at how they can help their fellow man. They’re looking at what rights can I have? That is why our police are in a world of hurt. People are not respecting those in authority over them.”