MO House candidates talk disability-related issues at public forum

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COLUMBIA - State House of Representative candidates talked public transportation and education, amongst other things, at a disability issues forum Thursday. 

Candidates in attendance were: 

  • District 44: Maren Ball Jones and Cheri Toalson Reisch.
  • District 45: Kip Kendrick.
  • District 46: Martha Stevens and Cathy Richards.
  • District 47: Chuck Basye.
  • District 50: Michela Skelton. 

The two-hour forum allowed Missouri residents to get an idea of where the candidates stand on disability-related issues. All questions were pre-submitted and provided to the candidates beforehand. 

Robyn Schelp and her son Nathan attended the forum. Schelp said she was happy the topic of education was part of the forum. 

"A lot of times when we come to events like this, we think very much of the adult community, and that is so important," she said. "My son will spend way more of his life as an adult than as a child, however we sometimes forget those first important 18 years of these kids lives." 

Schelp said she hopes House candidates will participate in more forums like this in the future.

"I think we still need to have more conversations. I think there are still obviously some conversations where maybe we don't all quite understand the issues and the concerns," she said. 

One resident who attended the forum said the topic of transportation hit close to home for him. Roger Cooley said he was diagnosed with ataxia in 1994 and relies on public transportation to get from place to place. 

"I find that a very personal topic, like today I requested a 1 p.m. pick up, but I got a 12:50 p.m. pick up," he said. "Sometimes with transportation it's a problem getting where I want to go on time." 

Cooley said the forum helped give him a good idea of where the candidates stand on certain issues. 

"I did find out some people I would vote for, some I would not," he said. 

Other questions at the forum covered the candidates' stance on medical marijuana, affordable housing, and employment for people with disabilities.