COLUMBIA - November candidates want to earn your vote by discussing disability-related issues on Thursday.
The City of Columbia Disability Commission, along with other local organizations, will host another Columbia Disability Issues Candidates Forum, which started in 1995.
Candidates running for State House of Representatives will answer questions including transportation, employment, funding and access for support services, housing and more.
Mark Satterwhite, Director of Life and Work Connections at Boone County Family Resources, said the discussion allows registered voters, who are also apart of the disabled community, to take into consideration their candidates position.
"We want voters with disabilities to make informed decisions at the polls," said Satterwhite.
Chuck Basye, running for re-election of State Representative District 47, said it is important that voters educate themselves about the disabled community before voting.
"The lobbyists get a bad rep, that they are just looked at in a negative way. But they're actually good people, they're advocating for something that is important to them," said Basye. "We need to rely on lobbyists to learn more about the people that are in this environment with developmental disabilities."
In 2010, the General Assembly passed a bill that provided better insurance coverage for therapies for children in the autism spectrum, up until age 18. Basye said if reelected, he would make sure the bill applies to other disabilities like Down Syndrome, brain disorders and more.
Robyn Schelp is an advocate for the bill and is happy that candidates know the questions ahead of time.
"We gave them topics that concern us. We ask them, please learn about it and then come talk to us about it," said Schelp.
"I think that as a society, we've got to do all we can to make sure that they have a chance to succeed in life just like you and I do," said Basye. "All the evidence shows that the sooner a person with a developmental disability gets into a constant therapy program, the better chance that they have in succeeding later in life."
Cathy Richards, running for State Representative District 46, said the disability community is close to her heart.
"I'd stand up and fight for these people," said Richards. "They just want what we want."
The forum is Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Woodhaven. The public will be allowed to ask questions at the end of the discussion.