A Cooper County man has announced his candidacy for the Missouri House District 48 seat which includes parts of Cooper, Howard, Pettis, Saline, Chariton, and Randolph Counties in central Missouri.
During the Cooper County Farm Bureau Annual meeting, Don Baragary announced his Republican candidacy for the Missouri House District 48 seat. Baragary has lived in the district for 45 years and has been self employed in his construction business as well as being an active member of his community. He lives in Cooper County on his family farm where he and his wife, Joy, have a cattle grazing and background operation. He has two children and three grandsons.
Baragary is also in his second term serving as Presiding Commissioner for Cooper County, a position that he has been interested in since his 30s.
“It always interested me and then in 2014 the presiding commissioners position became open. I had slowed down my construction business and thought I could give the needed time and commitment,” Baragary told the Democrat.
“I knew what the job was about and a lot of people will ask you when you go into a job like that they ask if you know what it is,” he continued. “Well I knew exactly what it was and had prepared myself for it and it’s been a good fit.”
Baragary believes that his past business experience prepared him well for the commissioner position and it will serve him in the 48th District Rep. position as well if elected.
“I believe that my business experience really prepared me well for the presiding commissioners job and being presiding commissioner also has prepared me for being a state rep,’ he said.
“Mainly because I’m pretty aware of what the local governments need because I deal a lot with the small communities and for sure with what the county needs are as far infrastructure funding. A lot of that is having the experience of working together with MODot and even some with the federal agencies on highway on projects.”
Baragary credits his business savvy to his parents who taught him to “run it like a business.” He believes this business savvy is one of his greatest strengths he has to offer the citizens of the 48th District.
“I think my greatest strength is just the personal business experience,” Baragary said. “Being self employed you learn that if you make a mistake you pay for it yourself. I’ve been able to bring that to the county level, running things more business like.
“When I say running things more business like, it’s watching the finances, making sure you're not spending more than you're taking in,” he added. “Making sure you're spending on the right things. The difference between a private business and county government is that in private business you work for a profit in local government the profit is the services that you can provide for the citizens.”
Baragary became interested in running for the representative position through his work on the I-70 Task Force which dealt with the Rocheport bridge project. While on the force he had the opportunity to visit with state and federal officials on the need for a new bridge. The goal was to avoid the eight to nine months of traffic backups if they had to do a rehab on the bridge.
“There’s a lot of people that work in Columbia, a lot go to Columbia for health care, it was really going to affect them. For lack of a better term, “lobbying” for the new bridge which would prevent those backups really kind of excited me and spent some time down at the capital on that and decided that state rep was something that I would like to do and certainly I always enjoyed a challenge,” said Baragary.
Baragary told the Democrat his main interests include agriculture, economic development, transportation and infrastructure.
“The highway system in the state is one of central Missouri's biggest assets. Both for industry and the agriculture industry because agriculture is the biggest industry in the state and those goods have to go to market,” he said.
He also has a great interest in mental health issues.
“I’m on the Board of Unlimited Opportunities and have been since before I was commissioner. That is the sheltered workshop in Boonville and that’s been one of the most rewarding boards that I've ever served on,” he said.
“The mission of that organization is great. We serve a lot of clients and have a lot of housing for those clients and I think there’s a need there. I think also mental health issues are a reason that a lot of the jails are full around. That’s a great interest of mine.”
Baragary serves on the Mid-Missouri Regional Planning Commission, the Mid-Missouri Public Housing Agency and Boonslick Community Development Corporation. He is a member of the I-70 Task Force, the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association and Missouri Farm Bureau.
Baragary said that while the 48th District is large and varied, he believes every part of it should be equally represented.
“Whether they have a lot of population or whether they have very little population, I think they need to have the same effort brought towards those areas…” he said.
“They need attention too. I think the whole focus is, ‘What’s best for the district,’ but ultimately it’s ‘What’s best for the state of Missouri?’”