Terry Traw

20th District, Missouri Senate

Party: Democrat

Education: I am a graduate of the Springfield Public Schools, culminating with my graduation from Central High School in 1972.

Previous Political Experience: I am an utter neophyte having never sought any office prior to this campaign nor served in any political capacity.  My previous involvement has strictly been that of an engaged citizen whose participation was as a dedicated voter.

Work Experience: I began working at a variety of jobs even before my high school graduation but fully entered the workforce at that time.  I was an employee of the Safeway grocery store chain for ten years and a proud member of the Retail Clerks Local 322 (now UFCW #2).  I also competed in professional bass fishing tournaments during that period.  When Safeway opted to exit this market area, I chose to decline the opportunity to relocate to another community and was recruited and hired by a local food brokerage business to serve as a representative of that firm.  Later I became a partner in a food brokerage firm with responsibility, by the early ‘90s, for $100 million in annual contracts.  When the food distribution sector was radically altered, I again decided to remain here, left that business and began an entrepreneurial enterprise that continues to this day.  My hobby, involving antiques and collectibles, became my livelihood.  I was a pioneer in utilizing the Web as a marketing tool and have contracts with some major companies for the exclusive manufacturing and marketing of specialty collectibles.

Family: My father and mother are both living and each is retired.  My Father owned and operated a wide variety of businesses in a number of locales across the country.  His businesses ranged from a vending machine servicing firm in California to a delicatessen here in Missouri.  My Mother was a hotel night clerk for many years.  I do not have any siblings.

I have been married to Jodie for 22 years.  She is employed by an advertising specialties company located in Strafford.  We have a number of “children,” all of them of the four-footed type, as our home is a magnet for strays and rescues.

Current Occupation: Self-employed in the antiques and collectibles business I founded in 1994.

Q: What is the most significant issue facing Missouri?

As is true of the nation as a whole, the interrelationship of the economy and public budget(s) is the most critical matter requiring substantive attention of legislators.  I strongly support measures that lead us to true full employment with high-wage/high-skill/high-productivity jobs.  As one means of creating and sustaining such jobs, I have proposed a new program entitled “The MO Jobs Bonds Program” which is detailed on my website.  In the medium- and long-term, only such a full employment economy can robustly finance public needs and solve the fiscal difficulties facing our state and nation.

Q: What are the top three items you would like to address as a legislator if elected?

First, economic conditions dictate that the creation and maintenance of good jobs with good wages and benefits must take precedence.  As mentioned above, I have proposed a MO Jobs Bonds Program that would make capital directly available to small and medium-sized businesses for the sole purpose of creating such high-quality new jobs.

Second, I am committed to the development of a local food/family farmer initiative that will expand the share of food dollars expended by Missouri consumers that is received by traditional independent Missouri producers.  The elements of that plan are also available via my website.

Third, I am intent on proposing and passing comprehensive revenue reform that is based on the principle of ability to pay.  Again, the specifics of that plan are accessible via my website.  I am adamantly against tax schemes that will harm poor and average middle-class working people such as the misnamed “Fair Tax.”  My objections to such overtly regressive proposals, such as that advocated by my opponent, are also thoroughly specified on my website.

Finally, as an over-arching concern, there is little hope for progressive legislation that improves the quality of life for the vast majority of Missourians without fundamental alteration of the pay-to-play system of campaign financing.  The inherent corruption of governance due to such a system is intolerable.  I support the adoption of a clean elections option, similar to that in place in other states, that allows for voluntary public support of candidates that meet certain grassroots funding targets.  I pray that the United States Supreme Court will not hinder or eliminate this remaining tool for recapturing the polity from the grasp of giant global corporate special interests and the super-rich.

Q: Like other states, Missouri is facing difficult financial times. Where would you propose cutting the budget, and which items do you feel need to be preserved?

I am committed to pursuing every means of restoring fiscal soundness to the Missouri state budget while maintaining full funding for necessary programs.  I will examine every category with a critical eye aimed toward efficiency, frugality and fairness.  Where expenditures are primarily benefiting powerful and wealthy interests through such tools as various tax credit boondoggles or school funding schemes that reward affluent metropolitan suburban districts at the expense of rural and poorer areas, I will fight to stop them.

As indicated above, I will start with eliminating tax expenditures that primarily benefit the super-rich and giant global corporations.  I also favor immediate tax equalization between local brick-and-mortar sales and Internet transactions.  There are additional revenue code revisions that I strongly favor, all in the direction of ability to pay, and will attempt to implement them prior to cutting outlays for priority public purposes.

Given current shortfalls, I will strive to maintain funding for those programs that directly assist the most vulnerable and least politically powerful citizens of our state.  I will make every possible effort to avoid cuts that will adversely affect the poor and the sick whether they are children or the elderly.  Because of its importance to the current and future well-being of our state, I will also strenuously resist further freezes and/or cuts to education spending, both K-12 and collegiate.  I do however, favor better targeting of K-12 monies through an improved formula that better accounts for district demography and thus better compensates for local poverty and capacity.  Education expenditures, which are actually a direct investment in our citizens, should principally aim toward enhancing equity.

Q: Why are you running for office?

In recent years, I became increasingly concerned about the direction of our state government and the inability of our legislature to appropriately address fundamental issues.  I was particularly disturbed by the clear corruption of governance by the pay-to-play political system that so transparently dictates the agenda.  The ongoing scandal of legal bribery and extortion that constitutes campaign financing and the disproportionate influence of lobbyists in a term limits environment have converged to decimate even the vestiges of democracy in our state legislature.  The interests of the vast majority of citizens are largely ignored while powerful special interests representing a tiny minority of citizens and companies are essentially granted complete control of government.

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