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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: Dave Raithel

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Ellie Lin

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

Samir Knox: So the first thing I wanted to ask you is a bit about how you first got interested in politics, like maybe as a young person or if that was even on your radar at all when you were young.

Dave Raithel: I’ve always been, in some way, politically active. It comes and it goes in cycles, depending on what else is going on in my life. But yeah, I was just one of those kids that was in Student Council and things like that in grade school. My first which what you call “adult” political campaign was working for the “Walking” Joe Teasdale campaign in 1972.

The first primary he ran, first time he ran for governor. Yeah, and then, you know, after that I was working on the McGovern campaign through the 80s. I would have been the kind of person that caucus for people like Michael Harrington or Jesse Jackson. Sometimes I've been a faceless phone banker.

Samir Knox: I’ve seen you say before in your campaign materials how you can be, you said, “a better Republican” than are there already. I just wanted you to talk a little bit about that.

Dave Raithel: There were two people yesterday, when I was knocking doors in Ashland, who very much wanted to talk about my claim I was a better Republican than they were because they were Trump supporters. And these weren't like 30 second conversations, I must have been there for 15 minutes, each of them,you know, and so is it is as simple as what I said: old fashioned Republican philosophy, the that I learned, not in a book but from the Republican Southern Baptist Republicans, you know, raised me, not all of them were just that, but you know, a lot of them were.

That Republican political philosophy is not about centralizing decisions in a place like Jefferson City, it is about having political power devoted to localities, and that's why we have local school districts. That's why we have local school boards and county boards of health and local election officials, okay. And then if things don't work out at that level of organization, then we move one level up, but otherwise, communities are left alone to take care of their own responsibilities.

And what we saw is that, you know, the crowd of people who are with Trump, you know, that wasn't, wasn't a month before, they were all belly aching, and whining and moaning and groaning, decided they would just change the rules, we're just going to take away the power that we used to, you know, trust with our local officials. And we're going to let people in Jefferson City and write a whole bunch of new rules.

Samir Knox: To go a bit more broad into what the role is like, what do you think a legislator should do? Like, what they ought to do, if that makes sense, what should the role be?

Dave Raithel: It is to fairly represent the competing interests and values of the people in the district. Guided by my own sense, quite frankly, of what a good government is doing. It is to make choices as a representative on behalf of the community with all hope it's grounded on rational basis and evaluation of the evidence.

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