155th House District Representative

TRAVIS SMITH Personal information: I was born and raised in Southern Missouri. My wife and I now live in Douglas County on land my father purchased over 40 years ago. We have four grown children and one new grandson. I’ve been a small business owner and a real estate developer for over 30 years. I’ve also coached high school football and track for the last 17 years.  I am a Christian and a conservative Republican who will always fight for the unborn, disabled and elderly. I will always protect property and privacy rights. I am committed to always being accessible. Experience and education: I have a B.A. from Mizzou and an MBA from William Woods. I have served on many civic and community boards, including the Ozarks Medical Center board.  Thoughts about legislation that replaces local control with state control on issues related to such things as concentrated animal feeding operations and when school districts can start their year: I am a firm believer in local control. Not giving that control to county commissioners was a huge mistake in regard to CAFOs. Most land south of the Missouri River is geological karst, underlain with limestone, so a CAFO here would easily allow animal waste to enter our water supply. Schools should also have local control. What is good for some areas isn’t necessarily good in others.  What new ideas do you have for bringing new jobs to this area, especially Ozark County? As an Ozarks Medical Center board member, I supported the hospital’s current expansion, which now needs a bigger staff. We are currently recruiting employees from Ozark County. Agriculture is important to Ozark County’s economy. People move here because of economical land prices, but many have no land-management experience, and soon their land becomes overgrown with invasive vegetation. What I call “cowboy consultants” may show new landowners how to manage their property or, better yet, provide services such as brush hogging, bulldozing, fertilizing, livestock management, etc. People from urban areas are used to paying a good price for services.  What new goal or project do you hope to accomplish? Some people in Ozark County have to commute an hour or more to jobs they could do at home with proper internet. During the COVID shutdown, many students had to pick up hard copies of schoolwork due to lack of internet at home. Medicine is becoming telemedicine. Everything has changed due to COVID, and high-speed internet is imperative if communities want to move forward. Federal and state grants are available, but a representative and local leadership are needed to get those grants.  What distinguishes you from your opponent? I really want this job. I’ve put over 35,000 miles on my truck traveling the 1,900 square miles of the 155th District. I’ve gone to all the candidate forums and talked with those in county and city government and everywhere else because all opinions in this district are important to me. I look for what I can do for people, and I respectfully ask voters to consider who they have seen working hard to earn their vote. 

JOE COMBS Personal information: I’m a fifth-generation native of this area. My siblings and I worked on our family farm and in our parents’ store, first in Brown Branch and then in Bradleyville. My brother Leon Combs owns Beaver Creek Elk and Cattle Ranch in Bradleyville, and we work together on projects supporting our community. I’ve been married 52 years to my wife, Paulette, a retired special education teacher. We have three children and five grandchildren. I’m a Christian. Experience and education: After graduating from Bradleyville High School, I earned a bachelor’s degree from College of the Ozarks, and a master’s degree and specialist’s degree in school administration from what is now MSU. After working in banking for seven years in Forsyth, I worked with the Division of Family Services as an advocate for daycare workers and abused children. Next, I was director at Ava Alternative School, which serves students who have challenges that make regular classroom settings difficult. Decades later, I’m still in touch with many children I helped in those two jobs. I was Bradleyville school superintendent for 17 years, retiring in 2016. Paulette and I now own Combs Fillin’ Station in Bradleyville.  Thoughts about legislation that replaces local control with state control on issues related to such things as concentrated animal feeding operations and when school districts can start their year: I favor local control whenever possible. I will not vote for anything that takes power away from local school districts. School boards have seven elected members who should have the power to operate their districts without government interference. What new ideas do you have for bringing new jobs to this area, especially Ozark County? I’d like to see tax breaks offered to new businesses in this area and a reduction in business regulations. In opening our country store, we faced unbelievable challenges in responding to and complying with regulatory requirements.  What new goal or project do you hope to accomplish? I want to maintain local schools and help them thrive while avoiding consolidating into larger districts that take smaller schools out of their communities and cause students to ride longer distances on buses.  What distinguishes you from your opponent? My years in banking and in supporting children who faced difficult challenges give me a broad perspective on the widely differing backgrounds and circumstances of 155th District residents. My years as a school administrator gave me insights into how state government can support local schools. My experience operating a rural store lets me see the plight of small businesses in these days of big-box stores and online retailers. And my farming background taught me that nothing is more important to the local economy than today’s small farms. I’ve worked in state government. I’ve dealt with budgets and bureaucracies, and I have experience in working with others to achieve a common goal.  

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
PO Box 188
Gainesville, MO 65655

Phone: (417) 679-4641
Fax: (417) 679-3423