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Congressional Candidates Debate Issues At Forum

Five candidates for the Nov. 4 2014 election addressed issues at a KRCU and League of Women Voters of Southeast Missouri forum at The Concourse in Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Candidates for the Nov. 4 2014 election addressed issues at a KRCU and League of Women Voters of Southeast Missouri forum last night at The Concourse in Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Candidates for the 8th U.S. Congressional District tackled topics like improving poorer counties in Missouri, Citizens United, Affordable Care Act, air strikes in Syria and immigration.

When discussing improving poor counties, incumbent Republican Congressman Jason Smith said some say the 8th congressional district is the 18th poorest district in the country, with Shannon County being one of the poorest counties in the district.

“The best way to create jobs in this district is to eliminate the poverty,” Smith said. “What the federal government is doing just for Shannon County alone is trying to destroy the economy of Shannon County by the general management plan that they are trying to create along the Ozark National Scenic Waterways.”

Smith's campaign staff later clarified and said the Congressman meant to say "The best way to eliminate poverty is to create jobs."

He attacked the Barack Obama administration and said the plan would decimate Shannon County and Reynolds County because it would close access to the river and horse trails, which would eliminate the tourism income that the town thrives on.

Independent candidate, Terry Hampton said that she is in one of the poorest congressional districts in the country and it's important to improve poverty by promoting local businesses.

Rick Vandeven, the Libertarian candidate said he was in favor of approving cannabis on a federal level to promote the economy.

Vandeven's agenda on legalizing cannabis also came up when asked by an audience member about the Affordable Care Act. Vandeven said he believed in self medicating and making all medications available over the counter.

“The best way for us to get our healthcare costs under control is to allow people to self medicate themselves,” Vandeven said. “I like would to also see direct dollar for dollar tax breaks for people who provide their own insurances for themselves. We need to decouple health insurance from our jobs.”

Constitution party candidate, Doug Enyart, agreed with both Smith and Hampton in opposing the act.

“The Affordable Care Act is such an extreme violation of concepts of liberty that the founders founded this country upon,” Enyart said. “To force anyone to purchase anything, a service, a good from a private sector, a private industry is an extreme violation of every thought of liberty.”

Continuing air strikes in Syria was supported by both Democratic candidate Barbara Stocker and Enyart.

“I think we should continue the airstrikes but as for boots on the ground, we need work boots in Missouri and not boots on the ground in Syria,” Stocker said.

Stocker and Smith both said that the think Americans who go overseas to train with ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, should have their passports taken away and be tried for treason.

Jen Gradl was a student reporter at KRCU in 2014.