Sedalians had the opportunity to meet with one of Missouri’s four Republican gubernatorial candidates in the Aug. 4 primary election during Saundra McDowell’s campaign stop Tuesday evening.
McDowell went to law school to become a lawyer but first joined the U.S. Air Force and served as an ICU medic while overseas. After serving six years active duty and two years in the reserves, she later had a number of duties while working in the Attorney General’s Office under Chris Koster including investigating Medicaid fraud. Next, she was the Director of Enforcement for the Missouri Securities Division under Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft. She unsuccessfully ran in 2018 against incumbent Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway, a Democrat.
Along with Gov. Mike Parson, McDowell will face Raleigh Ritter and James W. (Jim) Neely in the Republican primary in August. The Democratic race includes Galloway, Jimmie Matthews, Antoin Johnson, Eric Morrison and Robin John Daniel Van Quaethem.
“We need a leader with a spine who will step up and fight for Missouri,” McDowell told the roughly two dozen people gathered Tuesday. She said Parson’s leadership during the pandemic is “concerning.”
“I didn’t think we should have ever shut down the state like we did. At the point Missouri shut down, our numbers had already dropped,” she told the Democrat after the event. “In the beginning, the numbers were really crazy and nobody knew what was going on and states were shutting down but we were one of the last states to shut down and I didn’t agree with that. Also, I think it’s a constitutional issue. There were a lot of other things I think we should have tried before we did this blanket stay-at-home order because Missouri is such a diverse state and the counties are so different.”
She told the Democrat her top priorities are fixing issues in the public school system by bringing parents and communities into the schools and getting the federal government out, fighting corruption in Jefferson City, and fixing the post-pandemic economy.
McDowell’s two-hour meet-and-greet at a Liberty Park shelter house turned into a group discussion and question-and-answer session about a number of hot topics in Missouri politics. She hit on several including being pro-life and being opposed to the hyperloop project in Missouri. She said she wants to remove the state’s personal property tax, as she said it is unconstitutional, and has “a lot of other ways I want to cut taxes.” As a veteran, she said she is “embarrassed” Missouri is not doing anything for veterans as compared to other states, noting Missouri will be the “No. 1 state for veterans when I’m done.”
“I can make government work a lot more efficient and effective,” she said early on in her remarks. “I believe every taxpayer dollar should work for the people. I know how to cut costs, I know how to cut red tape. I know how to make things more efficient in ways that will bring in revenue and cut costs.
“... The first thing I feel like the Lord has told me to do is get the corrupt actors out, the bad actors. That’s exactly what happened to Greitens. He was such a political outsider that I think he didn’t know who all the bad actors were. So instead of ousting them, they ousted him. I ran in 2018 so I know who a lot of them are.”
McDowell also promised to solve the violent crime plaguing Missouri’s two largest cities. She said she is in favor of President Donald Trump’s plan to use federal troops to help in cities with crime problems, such as in Portland, and that she “had planned to use them anyway because of the domestic terrorism in Kansas City and St. Louis.” Gangs are taking over Missouri streets, she said, and she would welcome active duty military members to “help get rid of those people.”
Missouri voters will decide in August whether they want to expand Medicaid in the state, something McDowell is opposed to. She said it is like Obamacare and “won’t fix the things people think it would. It doesn’t fix our problems in health care, the cost of health care is the problem.”
She’s also opposed to mail-in voting and criticized Parson for allowing COVID-19 exceptions for mail-in voting in the 2020 primary and general elections. She said it could lead to voting fraud, although she said she is in favor of traditional absentee voting along with requiring voter ID.