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Each election year, KBIA sits down with local candidates to hear what they have to say on their own terms. Some of these candidates you might see on TV every day. Others might be familiar by name only, if that. But KBIA interviews them all so that you can be informed when you go to the polls in November.

Candidate Conversations: Cheri Toalson Reisch

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Ellie Lin

Cheri Toalson Reisch is a Republican running against Democrat Dave Raithel for state representative of Missouri's 44th district.

Samir Knox: Particularly for our area, what is it like being a legislator? And are there any problems that are you think are unique to Mid-Missouri?

Cheri Toalson Reisch: So Boone County is a purple county, it's, it's, you know, half Democrat, half Republican. There's the rural area, there's the urban area. And so you have quite a diverse constituency that I work with. My half of my district, that's Columbia. You know, I covered the Columbia Public School, which is large, and then my rural areas, I deal with small school districts such as Hallsville, Centralia, Sturgeon. So a lot of it is very different when you're dealing almost night and day with with different people and governments.

Samir Knox: Why don't you go a little more into the differences there? Do you see a lot of, I don't know if the word would be political polarization, but something like that? Is there, there — are people who are Democrats often standoffish or, like vocal against you when you meet them?

Cheri Toalson Reisch: Sure. So um, since I first ran back in 2016, you know, I profess that I am a Christian, conservative fiscal conservative, Republican, and we are a red state overall, but we have blue pockets, Kansas City, St. Louis, Columbia and Springfield. But, you know, what's unfortunate is you can't just disagree with and not be disagreeable. There is a lot of hate and dirty, dirty politics out there. I've had an assassination threat. I've had my tires punctured five times, I've had my car vandalized, but I've even been sued in federal court. So I've got a big target in my back in the Columbia community. So you know, it's, it's not easy running for public office and putting yourself out there, but I feel it's the right thing to do.

Samir Knox: What is your it like the relationship with this community? I wonder if you could talk a bit more about what outreach is like in Columbia?

Cheri Toalson Reisch: So my district is not just Columbia. I have five cities and four school districts. So I am at events and government meetings, constantly. I am everywhere all the time, whether it's a local chili supper or a school board meeting, a city council meeting, I am constantly engaged in all of the communities that I represent. You wouldn't believe the miles I put on my car going back and forth to all my communities and and meeting with all elected officials, local people, going to local Boy Scout things, whatever the case is FFA events, you know, I want to be there to support my constituents.

Samir Knox: How do you think about how a democracy like ours, how do you think Republicans and Democrats should coexist in a place?

Cheri Toalson Reisch: So you know, people use that word democracy, but I like to say we are not a democracy. A democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what's for dinner. We are a constitutional republic. We are a representative republic. And so we elect our officials, whether it be State, House, Senate, federal level, local level, to represent the people and a democracy is, you know, different.

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