Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Response from Robin Smith, Secretary of State Candidate

1. What do you view as the key role, and/or attributes needed for this position? What experience/attributes do you have that qualify you for this position? 

I have a Graduate Degree in Business – an Executive Masters in International Business – from St. Louis University, which makes me eminently qualified to run the Office of the Missouri Secretary of State. 

I believe that any person who runs for political office should have the highest regard for the facts. In my 42 years as a TV news anchor and reporter, that is what my newsroom started and ended with every single day – our careers depended on it. And so I would say that to be the Chief Elections Officer in Missouri you need to be fair, truthful, unbiased, impartial and professional. I believe we must keep the Missouri Constitution as it currently is written guaranteeing every resident the right to vote. I oppose any Amendment to our state Constitution, which could remove the right to vote from some 220,000 – mostly seniors, the disabled, college-aged students, the poor and minorities in Missouri. 

2. Why do you think you are the best person for this position? What differentiates you from your opponent(s)? 

I am one of five generations in my family to reside in Missouri. I have served the St. Louis Bi-State region and the surrounding 20-plus counties for 42 consecutive years on TV, and served on dozens of civic and charitable executive boards during that time. These include the St. Louis University Board of Trustees, Deaconess Hospital Board, Variety Club, March of Dimes of St. Louis Board among countless others. Public service is engrained in me, and I want to continue that service as your next Secretary of State. 

I am also a proud member of labor for 42 years (SAG- AFTRA), and my family has a long history of supporting voting rights and civil rights in this country. 

My opponents in the Primary Election have not demonstrated the same extensive record of public service to Missourians for over the last four decades. My likely opponent in the General Election is John Ashcroft, Jr., and the policies he’s espousing might as well come directly from his father, the former Governor of Missouri – U.S. Senate and U.S. Attorney General- John Ashcroft, Sr. 

3. What do you feel are the most pressing issues currently facing this office and what plans do you have to address these issues? (please be specific) 

Without question the most critical part of the Secretary of State’s office right now is the battle for the ballot box and protecting the right of every Missouri resident to vote. There is a proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitution on the November ballot that would ultimately block mostly seniors, the disabled, college-aged students, minorities, the poor from voting in our state. This is akin to the Jim Crow South during the 1950s. Should the law pass more than 220,000 Missourians will be affected, both Democrats and Republicans, and those in harm’s way include the most vulnerable people in our society – who do not drive, cannot drive, or cannot afford to drive. We should be doing everything we can, using the newest technologies available and employing common sense techniques, to increase the number of people participating in the democratic process, not decreasing the number of voters. Our elections should be more inclusive and less exclusive. 

4. Describe how you work with, or will work with, others to address your priorities. 

In politics as in the newsroom, you need to be able to rely on trustworthy sources before you make decision on a news report or a public policy. Because I am not a career politician I recognize the importance of requesting information from individuals or organizations who know the facts of an issue, instead of those who slant the truth for political gains. 

5. Who are your 3 largest campaign contributors? Do you have a policy on accepting lobbyist gifts? Are there donors from whom you will not accept campaign contributions? 

Currently, my three largest campaign contributors in order are: 
    1. Carpenters 
    2. Simmons Hanly Conroy 
    3. Ken McClain (my Treasurer), the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 655, the statewide Teamsters and Sid Meredith.

I support a gift ban and I am prepared to reject contributions from those that require any kind of quid pro quo or from those where I find their backgrounds or motives to be questionable. 

6. How will you use your position to increase access to voting and combat restrictive voter ID laws? 

There are a number of ways to combat restrictive voter ID laws. For example, in Florida when a senior citizen decides he or she no longer wants to drive they inform the Florida DMV, and they receive a permanent sticker that labels them an eligible voter – permanently – which they can affix to their expired driver’s license. And we absolutely must make sure that every county is properly prepared for election days so voters do not have to wait for hours to exercise their constitutional right to vote. 

To improve access, we need to look into the newest, secure technologies that will enable easier registration and potentially even voting. Policies like this will make it easier for millennials to use smart phone technology to register through an app on their phones. Missouri should also consider adopting inclusive vote-by-mail and early voting laws. Las Vegas has clearly-marked, mobile buses off of exits on the highways where you can stop and vote early if you like. 

Missouri could be on the cutting edge of increasing voter participation, not keeping us in the dark ages of disenfranchising voters.

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