I consider myself a Conservative Liberal and have voted across party lines in the past. I've chosen to run on the Democratic ticket, as several causes that I feel are important right now align best with that party. It amazes me that when people see the word Democrat they automatically think evil or non Christian. I am a born again Christian and a member of a Southern Baptist Church. I don't think you can get much more conservative than that. I believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God and very clear on what God wants us to do and one of those things is to take care of the less fortunate. I believe that both Democrats and Republicans have good and bad ideas. I will not, however, vote for an idea that is not wanted by all of you and best for District 53, including Lafayette, Jackson, and Johnson counties.
General Assembly members seem to have a tendency to vote for whatever they want with no regard for what their constituents want. Proof of this can be seen in the way they have approached those two issues in the last two years. To keep this from happening we must keep a close watch on our Representatives when it comes to every issue. Keep in touch with your representatives and make sure they are making choices that YOU agree with. I encourage you to e-mail, call, text, visit or write me often if I am elected to let me know the choices that you want me to make and how you want me to represent you.
The Tough Issues
Every election year there are always the tough questions that every voter would like to know the answer to, but that every politician seems to avoid. These are the questions that are sure to start trouble at the dinner table. However, I believe in an open-door, open-minded approach. There will be no ducking the tough issues here, so let's get right to it.
Well, first things first. I come from a family that not only collects guns, but my son also builds them. In fact, my son is currently building an AR-15 for my husband. So, even though that rifle is in the news everyday as a modern day killing machine, I just don't see it quite the same way. As such, I oppose an Assault Rifle ban. My philosophy is that the gun itself is just a tool; the problem comes from the people who wield the rifle and the attachments applied to the rifle, which make it needlessly dangerous. Therefore, attachments that change the fire-rate of semi-automatic weapons (such as bump-stocks, what purpose do they serve?) or that make a rifle hold more ammunition than is necessary (such as 100-round drum magazines, if it takes you that many shots to get your target or animal, go home) are what need to be sensibly regulated. The other important thing when it comes to gun ownership is making sure that gun-owners are well educated in the use and care of the firearm, and that they are responsible. I firmly believe that education is important in all things, and that is why I feel that we should require a gun permit to buy and use firearms. The gun permit should not be too difficult to obtain, only requiring taking a gun safety course at a local firing rage and passing a simple background check. This may seem like a lot to ask for, but I think of it as simply requiring that people train in the use of a gun before they try to shoot. Think of it like a learner's permit for a driver's license. We don't want people to drive a car when they don't understand the rules of the road, or even how to parallel park without taking out the car behind them.
Abortion and Contraceptives
Again, let me start by saying something about myself. I was raised Southern Baptist. I come from a religious family, married into a religious family, and still maintain a religious household. However, as the mother of a daughter, I am Pro-Choice. God forbid it should ever happen, but if my daughter were to be a victim of rape, I would support her fully if she wanted an abortion. I would not want my daughter to endure the mental trauma of carrying that baby to term. Now, this does not mean I support abortion in all cases, but I feel there is a lot of misinformation on both sides about who performs abortions, how and why they are done, and even about the potential risks and dangers of receiving an abortion. I am a strong advocate of sex education. Parents say that they reserve the right to educate their own children and I respect that, but as a school counselor I know for a fact that in a lot of situations it doesn't happen. This may make some of us squeamish, but sex education needs to get more of a focus and be improved upon. Even now, most health education provided in general is based upon research on only male anatomy, with any sex education primarily focusing on abstinence. Women's health only receives a cursory glance, and our best safe-sex advice is "don't do it." Somewhere in Missouri, there is a 12 year-old girl whose body and mental state are going through changes, and she doesn't know what is happening, and she doesn't have a parent that will talk to or teach her. Something needs to change. The other problem is that many organizations are wrongly labelled as only a provider of abortions or an advocate for abortion rights. However, many of these organizations more often provide essential women's health care for low cost or free of charge. This health care includes pre-natal care, breast exams, pap smears, and so much more that is essential to a women's general well-being. It would be unfair to all women across the state - especially those who cannot afford health insurance plans - to remove access to this medical care simply because those organizations also provide abortion education, practice, and post-treatment. I will state that there should be a point at which an abortion is not an option in the pregnancy ever.
I have never smoked marijuana, and I never intend to. However, I do feel that marijuana should be legalized. To me, marijuana is no different than alcohol. Neither are very dangerous if used responsibly and in moderation. However, neither should be given to minors. The best way to deal with marijuana is to treat it the same way that we treat alcohol. We should have an age restriction of 21 to prevent the sale to minors; we should punish anyone that provides a minor with marijuana; and we should impose taxes on that sale of marijuana. All proceeds of those taxes should go first into prison reform, as a means of helping those who may have been imprisoned under old marijuana possession laws, helping them better reenter society.
Questions & Answers
This space down here is for all of you. If you send in questions, we'll post them - and my answers - here for everyone to see. Anonymous or not, it's your choice. It's an open-door policy, guys. I want everyone to know my answers to all of your questions. If you want to ask me anything, check out the contact page.
Connie Simmons for State House of Representatives, District 53