In the “Meet the candidates” series, the Mexico Ledger interviewed candidates who will appear on the Aug. 7 primary ballot and asked them to explain their platforms. In this installment, meet candidates for U.S. Representative — Renee Hoagenson (D) and Hallie Thompson (D).

What is your hometown?

RENEE HOAGENSON (D): I'm a Missouri native, lived here all of my 51 years. I've lived in this district, Missouri-4 for more than 40 years. As a child, I lived in Warrensburg and Greenwood. I've lived in Columbia for 33 years.

HALLIE THOMPSON (D): I'm from High Point, Missouri in Moniteau County, and now live in Columbia.

How long have you been involved in politics and in what roles? (if not applicable, put N/A)

HOAGENSON: I have been actively involved in my community for decades, most notably through Rotary Club. Working with small businesses – and building my own – I was forced to stay informed on political issues, and regularly voted. Because of my commitment to continue to serve neighborhoods and small businesses, I became a candidate for Congress.

THOMPSON: N/A

How has your background prepared you for the office that you are campaigning for?

HOAGENSON: As a small business owner, and then as a small business consultant, I built a career helping small businesses grow, so I understands first-hand the problems Missouri’s small businesses and owners face every day. I bring with me the acumen needed to make sure government works efficiently to best serve its customers, you, the American family.

Raising my three daughters alone, I have also learned how to stretch a dollar, the cost of child care and what it feels like to see half your paycheck go to pay for it. I’ve learned that employer-provided health care plans have doubled and tripled in cost over the last decade. And I’ve learned what it’s like to tackle the high cost of college and student loans.

Most of all, as not only a mother and an entrepreneur, but as a citizen, I’ve learned to not trust anyone who has spent a decade in Washington, DC.

THOMPSON: In addition to being able to represent both the more urban and more rural parts of the 4th District, I have federal policy experience, have advocated successfully for graduate workers at Mizzou, and have learned to collaborate in a variety of leadership positions. I worked as Director of Legislative Affairs for a national non-profit, the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students, training students and advocating for higher education on Capitol Hill; I served as the Early Career Representative to the American Society of Plant Biologists Science Policy Committee advocating for postdoctoral and graduate student researchers in STEM in D.C.; and, I co-founded the Missouri Science and Technology Policy Fellows program to connect Missouri state legislators and their staff members with scientists and scientific research.

What do you feel are the top two issues facing Missourians today, and how do you plan to address them if elected?

HOAGENSON: Missouri needs more good-paying jobs. Low pay is not only hurting our pocketbooks, but they’re destroying our American values. The family unit to be the foundation of our Nation. For generations we have instilled in our children the American values of independence, compassion, and strength of character that have made our nation great. However, due to stagnating wages and good paying manufacturing jobs going overseas, many Missourians have had to work longer hours and in many cases more than one job just to make ends meet. This has led to less time spent together as a family teaching our children the American values upon which our country has been built.

It’s time every Missourian has access to affordable healthcare. Medicare for all is where this country needs to be. Consider that we agree as a country that every child should be educated in the public school system. Healthcare is an even more basic need than education. Payments for healthcare and medicine should be considered more like utility payments, not free market. Today, healthcare has become a for-profit business while Americans are literally dying from the high cost of insurance and prescription drugs. The United States is the only industrialized country in the world that isn’t providing a level of healthcare for its people. I’ll work to change that.

THOMPSON: I believe that access to affordable and equitable healthcare and economic security are the biggest issues facing Missourians today. These affect Missourians young and old, urban and rural. My parents had to leave our family farm when I was teenager because we were unable to obtain adequate health insurance coverage. I will defend Medicare and Medicaid, support rural hospitals and rural healthcare infrastructure, and fund public and environmental health programs and regulations. I support an eventual transition to comprehensive, universal, single-payer healthcare. When it comes to economic security, which is especially pressing for MIssourians my age, I support federal paid family and sick leave, closing the gender wage gap, strengthening unions, relieving the burden of student debt, and raising the minimum wage.

What issue are you particularly passionate about? How do plan to further work in that area if elected?

HOAGENSON: I’m passionate about what I call House Cleaning Reforms. Specifically, campaign finance reform, lobbying reform and federal redistricting reform. It’s time we eliminate the secret money, the ‘dark’ money, and the Super PACs that take power away from the individual voter and contribution of average Americans. We must ban gifts from lobbyists. Plain and simple. Zero. Nothing. And redistricting should not be in the hands of legislators. We need to neutralize the practice of gerrymandering, which establishes a political advantage for a particular party by manipulating district boundaries.

THOMPSON: My experiences growing up on a family farm and then pursuing an academic career in plant biology––I study drought resilience in corn––have shaped the issue I'm most passionate about: strengthening our food systems while supporting small, local producers and combating food insecurity. I will address this issue through the lens of economic justice. That means: directing government subsidies away from large-scale corporate commodity production and toward small-holder farms producing food; protecting farm workers; supporting collaborative federal-state partnerships to aid beginning, immigrant/refugee, and low-income food producers; strengthening environmental health regulations for CAFOs; supporting investment in community agriculture and alternative markets for fresh, nutritious food in underserved communities (urban and rural); making agriculture research open/accessible to all and breaking corporate control of information; and, rolling back harmful barriers to receipt of SNAP benefits.

What makes you stand out from other candidates?

HOAGENSON: I’m an entrepreneur, and recently sold my third start-up business. When you work all day, every day, to build something from nothing, you have a good idea how it works. You know what it takes to balance budgets, listen to people, and do it all again. As someone who has felt the burden of government regulations, I’ve got the fresh fight in me to go to Washington, DC and make a real difference. I have never accepted a lobbyist’s gift, and have not accepted any PAC dollars. Instead, my campaign is backed by over 1600 individuals – not corporations – people. And I’m taking every one of their voices with me.

THOMPSON: I'm a different kind of candidate: I'm a young scientist from a rural background with expertise in agriculture and running as a progressive Democrat. There's no one like me currently in Congress. After years of advocating on behalf of graduate students and scientists with little success in changing policy, it became clear that we needed to make changes in a different way. I am running for the U.S. House of Representatives to bring a different voice to D.C. that represents ordinary Missourians; I’m someone who has experienced worrying about paying my bills, funding my education, and keeping my health insurance. I am committed to defending public programs and institutions, fighting inequality, using evidence in policy-making, and protecting our communities from greed, ignorance, and selfish interests. To make this a reality, we need representatives with diverse experiences and approaches to problem solving.

Is there anything else you would like voters to know?

HOAGENSON: Every year people say it, but in Missouri it’s true: Your vote matters. From Jefferson City to Washington, DC, the entrenched politicians are taking advantage of middle-class, working Missourians. The rich are getting richer, and workers like your readers and I are not getting ahead. My campaign is not about me. It’s about the people of the 4th Congressional District. Every person in every town in every county. I’ve thought long and hard about the responsibility I take with me, and I’m prepared to do the hard work it will take.

THOMPSON: I am a strong advocate for workers' rights and have seen first-hand how important collective bargaining is for vulnerable workers. I will be voting "no" on Prop A in the August 7 election. 

List any websites/Facebook pages/other places where voters can go for more information about your campaign

HOAGENSON:

www.reneehoagenson.com

www.facebook.com/HoagensonForCongress

https://twitter.com/reneehoagenson

THOMPSON: facebook.com/hallieformo, www.halliethompsonforcongress.com

Vicky Hartzler (R, incumbent), Mark Bliss (Libertarian) and Steven Koonse (Libertarian) did not respond to The Mexico Ledger’s request for comment.

ssabatke@mexicoledger.com