33rd Senate District Candidates

VAN KELLY Personal information: I was born in Mountain Grove and raised with four brothers on a beef and dairy farm in Douglas County. My parents instilled in me strong Christian morals and an appreciation for hard work. I’m the music director at Liberty Faith, where my family has attended for years, and I serve as director for Camp Joy Bible Youth Group.  Experience and education: After graduating from Norwood High School and attending Drury University, I graduated from the Springfield Police Academy and spent 16 years in Douglas County law enforcement, serving in communications, as a jailer, deputy and bailiff for the courts. I served in the Missouri House 2000-2008 representing the 144th District (Wright, Douglas and eastern Ozark counties). During that time, I was a member of Missouri State University Chancellor’s Advisory Board for West Plains and president of Wright County’s Association of Republicans Getting Everyone Together. I am a 20-plus year member of the Missouri Farm Bureau. After eight years as a state representative, I turned a passion for wood carving into a small business. Today, I see the good people of this district suffering from the lack of family-supporting jobs and a government that thinks removing freedoms and taxing paychecks is the answer. Government has become the problem. That’s why I’m running for Missouri Senate.  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: Local farmers and educators better understand local needs. To have the state work against establishing higher standards makes no sense if it better serves the community. If I feel state legislation is more beneficial, I will meet with the citizens, make my case and work to achieve an agreeable result. We represent the people. They must be included in the process. Ideas for bringing new jobs to this area, especially Ozark County? We must support existing small businesses, encourage local entrepreneurs and drive a stable local economy. Small business owners are hurting due to COVID. We must stabilize those first and demonstrate that this area supports local business and affords the freedom to pursue your dreams. What new goal or project do you hope to accomplish? On my first day in office, I will introduce legislation to repeal Missouri’s state income tax – because government needs to keep its hands off our paychecks. If it works for Texas, Florida and Tennessee, it will work for Missouri. What distinguishes you from your opponents? There is agreement when it comes to issues such as supporting the Second Amendment, supporting the rule of law and being pro-life. My distinguishing focus is on eliminating Missouri’s state income tax and improving rural broadband access, which is essential to families and small businesses, especially now, with many being home-schooled and working from home. 

KARLA ESLINGER Personal Information: My husband, David, and I have been married 38 years. We live on the family farm, own a small business and have two daughters, Chelsey Gilmore and Katy Chapman, who are both teachers.  Experience and education: I graduated with a bachelor’s degree from College of the Ozarks. Later, I earned a master’s in elementary administration, a specialist degree in school finance and law, and a doctorate degree in educational leadership and policy analysis. I worked as a teacher and principal, and then became the first female superintendent in the Ava R-1 School District. Later, I became superintendent of West Plains R-7. I then served as Assistant Commissioner of the Missouri Department of Education. I was raised by a single mother who was married at 15, had three children and was divorced at 18. My mother worked every job she could find, from driving a truck to nursing or being a third-shift factory worker. She taught us to always keep your word and to work hard because no one owes you anything. We never accepted any gifts, government subsidies or even reduced-priced school lunches.  My experiences shaped me into a Constitutional Conservative. Freedom provides opportunity, and with every tax, mandate and regulation, we create barriers to opportunity and success. We must fight every day to protect our freedoms. That is why I am strongly prolife and am a strong defender of our Second Amendment rights, property rights and privacy rights. 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 support using the state legislature to push back local governments if they infringe on our rights and freedoms. Ideas for bringing new jobs to this area, especailly Ozark County? I’ve developed an initiative that targets industries that manufacture strategic products in China, and I will work to bring those manufacturing jobs back to Missouri. We can keep those jobs and entice more investment in our community if we reduce unnecessary regulations, end frivolous lawsuits and focus on workforce development that emphasizes training and retraining in high-demand industries. What new goal or project do you hope to accomplish? We need economic development – we need jobs. And we need a workforce ready for the jobs of tomorrow. My plan places greater emphasis on community colleges, technical schools and vocational education. Also, rural broadband is an absolute necessity if we are to move forward with the rest of the state.. What distinguishes you from your opponents? When I say I am a Constitutional Conservative those are not just words. They reflect the very values I embraced growing up. I have a proven track record of building consensus, solving problems and making a difference. I know my passion for the work and dedication to our community is a significant advantage to my success as senator.

ROBERT ROSS Personal information: I’m a sixth-generation Texas County, Missourian. In the legislature, I’m known for finding waste, fraud and abuse in government, including leading the effort to defund Planned Parenthood. I support President Trump and work to promote his agenda in Missouri.  Experience and education: In addition to being a Professional Land Surveyor and shooting range owner, I have a proven track record of standing and fighting for our Ozark Conservative values in the legislature (term limited after eight years).   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 believer and most generally support local control, but there are times when the state needs to step in. Recent examples include liberal St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, who confiscated the firearms of law-abiding homeowners (the McCloskeys) who were simply protecting themselves and their property; and the ridiculous mask ordinances in some municipalities. Likewise, rogue bureaucrats regulated agriculture out of some communities. On the school start date, school superintendents/administrators refused to be flexible for families involved in the state fair, including those in 4-H and FFA, and the legislature stepped in. I typically prefer that decisions be made locally, but when local governments get out of control, something must be done. Ideas for bringing new jobs to this area, especially Ozark County? Missouri is becoming increasingly attractive to employers because of our tax structure. Ozark County needs the same things as everywhere else to thrive – the freedom for people to grow and operate small businesses without being regulated or taxed to death. Government should focus on staying out of the way. What new goal or project do you hope to accomplish? 1.  Stop the liberal assault on our values.  2. Continue demanding transparency for how our tax dollars are spent.  3. Continue to remove needless regulations.  What distinguishes you from your opponents?  I am a Life Member of the NRA and have the NRA’s highest (A+) rating, above any other candidate in this race. I am also the only candidate who has been endorsed by Missouri Right to Life, the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, and I am supported by the Missouri State Troopers Association. I fight for our Ozarks conservative values, and I’m effective. I will do what is right, and I’m not worried about the impact on my political career.

Ozark County Times

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