You can find Don Waterman working at the Columbia Bass Pro Shops, checking people out at the register or helping customers find what they’re looking for. But now he’s casting his line for the state legislature.
Waterman is running as the Republican candidate for the District 46 House of Representative’s seat. He got his first taste of politics by working for Danie Moore’s campaign in the 2008 state election primaries. Now, as a candidate, Waterman wants to tackle Missourians’ access to mental health facilities.
“The biggest issue is the lack of facilities,” Waterman said, “and the lack of, by extension if you will, a lack of individuals to either do the counseling, or social workers to help individuals.”
He became interested in mental health after a family member needed care.
Waterman admits that there are roadblocks for the state to increase fund for residential and inpatient treatment, and he wants to partner with the local community.
“It may mean cooperating with University. Maybe some sort of partnership there to provide services for the mentally ill,” he said. He suggested churches as potential community partner.
“Maybe they could assist in a way. It may not just be solely financial,” Waterman said.
Despite financial strains within the government to provide mental health resources, Waterman wants to cut personal taxes.
“Reducing taxes while in the short term may lead to some decreases in the revenues,” he said, “what that does is, if you've got more money in your pocket, you are more likely to spend it.”
He expects that if people have more money at their disposal, their spending will stimulate economic growth.
Waterman’s economic platform also includes creating more job opportunities in trade fields, like plumbing.To do that, he wants to encourage young people to think about pursuing a technical degree.
“Will that electrical engineer with his bachelor’s degree be able to come out and wire the house being built?” He asked, “that takes an electrician. And it takes a plumber to do the plumbing for that house. When the lights go out in Columbia, they don't call the electrical engineering school.”
Waterman says more technical workers means economic benefits for individuals and the community.
“I would like to see us bring businesses, industry, manufacturing to Columbia, to Boone County and to Missouri because we have the skilled workforce they need,” Waterman said.
While he has a heart for technical workers, Waterman holds reducing student debt for college degree earners dear to his platform.
“That's a challenge. Maybe we need to look at why the cost keeps going up.”
Tuition and fees have increased by 13 percent over the last five years at public four-year colleges and universities, according to the College Board, a nonprofit organization.
Also part of Waterman’s agenda is the right to life – he strongly prefers adoption over abortion – and the second Amendment right.
“I am not advocating firearm ownership for everyone,” he said, “but if you choose to own a firearm, then again, it's your responsibility to use it wisely.”
Waterman faces Martha Stevens for the state representative seat for District 46. Stevens is also a newcomer to state politics.