Parker challenges incumbent Avery for 95th District Missouri House seat in Nov. 7 election

Jim Avery

Jim Avery

By MIKE ANTHONY

Democrat Judi Parker is challenging Republican incumbent James G. “Jim” Avery Jr. for the 95th District Missouri House seat in the Nov. 7 election.

Parker, who defeated Democrat Paul E. Green Jr. of south county in the August primary, hopes to unseat Avery, who has held the 95th District Missouri House seat since 2002.

Asked to identify the most important issue in the race, the two candidates gave the following responses:

• “Health care — the costs for health care are rising, and we need to find a solution to help make it more affordable,” Avery stated.

• “Having access to quality health care, guided by medical needs, especially for our seniors, persons with disabilities and children is certainly one of the most important issues in this race. This priority has been confirmed for me while speaking with constituents of the district. There is grave concern over the hurtful cuts to health and support services for many constituents in the 95th District and throughout the state; many individuals are presently without insurance and are fearful of the future and their lack of access to health care and those preventative measures that will maintain their health. All Missouri citizens should have the right to quality health care,” Parker stated.

Avery, 35, 9714 Big Bend Road, 63126, is self-employed. He is single.

Avery said he is seeking re-election “to continue the hard work I have done for the 95th District.”

Parker, 66, 12608 Bradford Woods Drive, 63127, is a consultant for Inscape Affiliate. She and her husband, Gerald, have two grown sons.

Parker served on the Special School District Board of Education from 1982 to 1988 and was president from 1983 to 1988. She is seeking election to the 95th District House seat “to work for and to help achieve a more just society in Missouri for our citizens: One that promotes, respects and protects the quality of life for all of our citizens. The present legislative leadership has imposed drastic cuts to health and support services that have seriously impacted all Missourians.

“All citizens have the right to quality health care guided by medical needs, especially our seniors, persons with disabilities and children. Because our children must share in the rewards of a just society, educational systems need to be fully funded. Our community, our economy and our quality of family life depend on excellence in our educational systems.”

The two candidates gave the following responses to a Call questionnaire:

What is your position on abortion?

Avery said, “I am pro-life and endorsed by Missouri Right to Life.”

Parker said, “I believe the decision whether to terminate an unintended pregnancy is best left to the woman, her God, her physician and her loved ones, not politicians. I believe politicians and government should be focusing on prevention. If we are serious about safely reducing abortions, we should focus on the core issue: unintended pregnancies. I believe the best way to reduce unintended pregnancies is to increase access to prevention programs like family planning and comprehensive sex education. These are the types of programs I support.”

What is your position on the death penalty?

Avery said, “I think there should be DNA evidence to sentence someone to death.”

Parker said, “I support the moratorium that has been approved by the Missouri Legislature as the possibility of mistakes is too grave to disregard. Also, I do not believe that the state should be in the business of killing, most particularly when we have the capability of infrastructure and technology to totally isolate and confine individuals who must be kept out of society.”

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

Avery said, “I think TIF is used too often and not for the intended uses. It should be used in blighted areas to stimulate growth.”

Parker said, “Yes. I believe that tax-increment financing should only be allowed for the purpose for which it was originally formed, i.e. to support or develop needed services and goods and/or private business to help restore the economic health of depressed areas.”

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

Avery said, “I crossed party lines and voted against the current formula since it hurts the Lindbergh School District.”

Parker said, “Yes. Let it first be noted that the Constitution of the state of Missouri, Article III, section 36, mandates public education as the top program priority for government funding. The present formula, SB 287 (2005) provides a base amount that is significantly lower than the levels determined in the Missouri adequacy study. That is also true for the additional funding for at-risk and special education students. As compared to the previous formula, high-tax-rate districts generally lose while low-tax-rate districts generally win. This does not bode well for school districts such as Lindbergh, Mehlville, Affton, etc. Because of the lengthy timetable for implementing the new formula, the state courts will most likely be involved in the new school funding formula.”

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

Avery said, “No, there have not been any problems with this law.”

Parker said, “I strongly oppose the legislative body of the state of Missouri voting to overturn the will of the citizens of Missouri. The citizens of the state clearly voted to prevent the carrying of concealed weapons. If the Legislature, a small number of individuals relative to the state’s voting population, differs on such issues, they should return the matter for another statewide vote.”

The Legislature two years ago approved legislation protecting Missouri residents from Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation, or SLAPP lawsuits. Should the provisions of this legislation be expanded? If so, what would you propose?

Avery said, “No, the current laws are adequate.”

Parker said, “I believe there needs to be a greater amount of evaluation time before there are considered changes to the SLAPP legislation.”