Republican gubernatorial candidate Dave Spence visited Kirksville Tuesday night, speaking to the Adair County Republican Club and Truman State’s College Republicans during the late afternoon.
During his speech to both groups, Spence emphasized his interest in bringing his business-oriented background to the governor’s office to try and make each government process as efficient as possible.
“In my world as a CEO, it’s about results,” Spence said before speaking to the Adair County Republicans at Steve’s Garden Deli. “If you don’t produce results, you get fired. We need to fire our CEO and hire a new CEO of Missouri.”
Spence stressed the need for job growth, stating that Missouri ranks 48th across the country for economic growth during the last 10 years.
The key to this job growth, Spence said, is creating an atmosphere across the state that promotes success for businesses. To do this, he said he would like to make Missouri a “right to work” state, meaning employees would have the option to join a union, rather than it being mandated.
“We need a fresh face, fresh energy, fresh ideas and to bring in new blood to our state so we can get it growing,” he said. “I just don’t think a career politician knows what’s going on outside of the aquarium of politics.”
Spence is running against democratic incumbent governor Jay Nixon.
“There are 16 divisions of the government,” Spence said. “Do we really need all of those? The Governor appoints 12 of those 16. What we need to do is unleash the power of 56,000 state employees to find how we can make more efficiencies in our state.”
During his speech to the local Republican Club, Spence discussed Nixon being absent from discussions with legislative leaders, something that concerned some legislators such as Rep. John Diehl, R-87, who spoke about his concerns during the speech.
Senior Josh Foster, College Republicans chairman, said from his experience interning at the Capitol, concern of the Governor’s involvement in the work outside of the second floor is common.
“Dave says he’s going to take an active role and work with leaders in both chambers,” Foster said. “I hope he does in fact try to work [with everyone] to get legislation passed and not sit on the sidelines and watch legislators duke it out on their own.”
Foster said he was hoping to hear more about higher education during both of Spence’s speeches, so at the College Republicans meeting he asked what plans Spence had for higher education, comparing the 12 percent cuts that originally were proposed to the department by Nixon last spring.
Foster said overall education is something that benefits the state economy, and therefore it’s an important issue to him as a college student.
“He didn’t give me a lot of specifics because he really can’t yet,” he said. “He’s dedicated to making higher education a priority for our state.”
Spence, who has four children, ages 14 to 20, said his family helps give him the chance to see life through the eyes of the younger generation.
“If you want somebody that’s walked in the shoes of businesses, will get Missouri’s economy going, will get us out of zero percent growth and will fight to restore the higher education cuts, I’m your guy,” Spence said.