Editor’s note: This is a developing article. Continue to check back to callnewspapers.com for more.
Former Lindbergh Board of Education member and Crestwood alderman Mike Tsichlis is facing Brad Christ, a newcomer to public office, for state representative for the 96th House District in the Aug. 2 primary. The seat was formerly held by David Gregory, R-Sunset Hills, who is running for state auditor.
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 … I am running for this seat to make a positive change for our families and community.”
Tsichlis lives in Fenton with his wife Vasilika. He is a communications consultant and owner of Axios Communications. He served on the Lindbergh Board of Education from 2016-2022 and was a Crestwood alderman from 2013-2015.
When asked why he was seeking office, Tsichlis said, “I am a common-sense conservative Republican who has the proven experience, leadership skills, and a deep-rooted relationship with the residents of District 96 to represent them effectively in Jefferson City. I seek to be a servant-leader whose chief focus will be on the people of the district.”
The candidates gave the following responses to The Call’s questionnaire:
What issue do you consider the single most important issue in this race and why?
Christ: “Upholding and defending our constitutional rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness … The foundational rights set the base for our freedom to live and create a strong economy … We need business-minded individuals, not career politicians, running government to get spending in check, lower inflation, cut taxes and lower regulations.”
Tsichlis: “We are facing multiple crises across our institutions and throughout society. However, because it impacts every household and business, the terrible state of our economy with rampant inflation nearing 10 percent is the most urgent. This devaluation of our paychecks hurts everyone, from seniors on fixed incomes to parents struggling to pay for their children’s education and activities to couples trying to buy their first home.”
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 the only candidate in this race endorsed by the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, St. Louis County Police Association, and the Missouri Council of Fire Fighters. I 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.”
Tsichlis: “The 96th District has become a largely ‘built out’ area with little available space for new residential and commercial development … The chief challenge now will be finding ways of keeping the district vibrant and attractive for future generations. This will mean working with business and homeowners to address their needs … Also a big part of keeping communities strong are academically great and safe schools. I will continue to promote … enhanced school security while emphasizing academic performance over divisive learning and political/social agendas.”
How will you advocate for the needs of your district in the legislature?
Christ: “I will represent the needs of the district because I am a part of this community and care about the same issues they do. My job is to be a voice for our district. I will work hard every day to ensure our community is well represented in the Capitol. This means listening to others and being open to discussion with my fellow legislators.”
Tsichlis: “I bring to this office a proven set of communication skills which are always helpful when advocating for the interests of my constituents. Just as important, I will not engage in the kind of political gamemanship that sells out … the interests of my constituents to that of lobbyists.”
Should police departments be defunded?
Christ: “Absolutely not. I support those who risk their lives to keep us all safe … I will fight every day to ensure our local police and first responders are fully funded.”
Tsichlis: “It is shocking that this is even a policy consideration. As crime continues to rise … including crimes against persons and property in what have long been considered stable and relatively secure communities in District 96, it makes absolutely no sense to scale back funding from those who put their lives at risk to protect ours and who do so while receiving modest compensation. I am a strong supporter of ‘Back the Blue’ efforts.”
What is your position on tax-increment financing? Are changes needed?
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.”
Tsichlis: “TIF has been used and abused across the state to promote economic development for decades, so much so that commercial developers have come to expect cities to provide millions in tax deferments … that takes those funds away from essential services. Reforming the way TIF proposals are consisted as a development tool that gives local residents and stakeholders a bigger voice is absolutely essential.”
Do you support right-to-work legislation?
Christ: “While I believe in free enterprise, the voters of Missouri have spoken and repealed right-to-work legislation, making their position clear with their votes. I will respect the outcome.”
Tsichlis: “I was raised in a union family and understand the role they have played in improving pay and working conditions. However as they may see mutual benefit from it, employers and workers should be free to engage in a working relationship in non-union workplaces.”
Are changes needed to the state’s current Open Meetings and Records Law? Christ: “I support transparency in government, plain and simple. Whatever will ensure that politicians are held accountable to the people is something I would strongly consider. I have nothing to hide or any hidden agendas. If elected, I would review the current statutes to see where improvements can be made.”
Tsichlis: “I don’t believe changes need to be made, but follow-up and enforcement is necessary when government institutions fail to comply with the law.”
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 has endorsed my candidacy in this primary.”
Tsichlis: “Offer a competitive corporate tax rate that encourages large employers to locate in Missouri. I would also encourage and incentivize businesses to invest in research, innovation and new product development. Encouraging career skills training and continuing education that keeps up with changes in industry trends will also be important to bolster greater job security.”
What do you think of the leadership of Gov. Mike Parson?
Christ: “Gov. Parson has weathered a difficult time for any governor: replacing a resigned governor, COVID-19 and record-breaking inflation. All these things were out of his control, but he worked hard to promote Missouri values.”
Tsichlis: “Although some conservatives have taken issue with his actions during the pandemic, I believe at his core Gov. Parson is a good man who believes what he is doing for the state is the right thing.”
What do you believe are the core responsibilities for someone elected to this office?
Christ: “It is the duty of all representatives to be a voice for their constituents in Jefferson City. I will lead with integrity, honesty and maintain an open-door policy to remain accessible to the people who elected me to serve them. That’s what being in government is supposed to be about.”
Tsichlis: “First and foremost is the need to listen to, work with and be an advocate for the residents of District 96. My office will always be open to provide ongoing help with constituent questions and issues, and whenever possible I will be … involved in providing assistance. Another core responsibility I am committed to is doing the research and providing due diligence on proposed legislation. I look forward to welcoming all views and opinions.”
What do you perceive to be the state’s greatest challenges over the next decade?
Christ: “The biggest threat to Missouri is the federal government’s encroachment on state’s rights and in our schools. Thankfully, our state leaders have stood strong against federal bureaucrats and unconstitutional mandates. We must ensure that our children are receiving a quality education by supporting our teachers and focusing on learning rather than using classrooms to push political agendas.”
Tsichlis: “The biggest challenge for the state in upcoming years will be to continually enhance its competitiveness as a center for new and growing business investment that will in turn create greater job and career opportunities for its citizens. Keeping the state attractive for future business investment will require steps such as easing regulatory burdens and ensuring we have a well-trained workforce for the jobs of tomorrow.”
What bill would you sponsor as your first legislation post-election?
Christ: “Income tax cut. For a Republican-held state we are extremely overtaxed. Income tax, property tax, personal property tax, social security tax, sales tax and the list goes on. A close second would be cutting property taxes for the retired and elderly population. They have paid into the system their entire lives and are now on a fixed income. Rising taxes from the government are running people out of their homes.”
Tsichlis: “The Missouri Tax Relief and Reduction Plan.”