I had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with both Republican candidates for Missouri House District 35 this past couple weeks. I must say it is nice to see two candidates who I would be comfortable with voting for in the November elections. T.J. Berry and Noel Shull are both respectful, accomplished Clay Countians who would fit the bill to replace outgoing Representative Doug Ervin. Rep. Ervin is terming out this year do to term limits here in the state of Missouri.
Both candidates were asked the same questions, although each interview tended to lead in its own direction with small talk. What follows below is a belief synapses of the candidates and my thoughts. I want to thank both of them for taking the time to talk to me.
I met with Mr. Berry first on Thursday July 8th. He has a compelling personal story, and while this generally works well for Supreme Court nominees, I felt it worth mentioning here. Mr. Berry has been a lifelong resident of the Kearney/Liberty area, he owns his own business (Business Cards, Ltd), and is a Deacon of the 1st Baptist Church in Kearney, Missouri. One of the things that stood out when he was telling me about himself was what led to the beginning of Business Cards, Ltd. In 1991 both him and his wife Shelly were working for the same company, Shelly was pregnant and they both suddenly lost their jobs. Instead of acting fearful and looking for a handout, they both did what is typical of Americans, they decided to take a risk and start their own business. This seems strikingly applicable in today’s economic climate and I think the experience and perspective will benefit him if he ends up heading to Jefferson City. Mr. Berry’s education actually is in the area of Graphic Arts, he has a BS in Graphic Arts Industrial Management from UCM.
Mr. Shull is an accomplished man as well and has had an outstanding career in various facets of business. He has been a resident of Clay County since 1970. Noel is retired from UMB Bank where he served as an Executive Vice-President. Noel was also appointed to the US Small Business Administration by four different Presidents; Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton. He currently serves on the Missouri Cattlemen’s Foundation Board and the Shoal Creek Living History Board. His educational background is a BS in finance and real estate from University of Missouri-Columbia and an MS in banking from Southwestern Graduate School of Banking at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Mr. Shull also served in the United States Army.
I thought it pertinent to ask about the issue of illegal immigration because that seems to be the hot topic button of the day. I asked both candidates if they supported the current controversial legislation in Arizona, SB 1070. Both candidates said without a doubt they support it. I asked both candidates if they would support a law like that in Missouri. Mr. Berry said that he would, Mr. Shull stated that he didn’t feel there was a need for it here in the state of Missouri.
I next asked both candidates where they stood on the issue of public education and what they thought the biggest challenges facing education were. Mr. Berry was a bit more passionate about the issue, and seemed to be more familiar with some of the current challenges facing teachers and education. He told me that there is often too much responsibility placed on the shoulders of teachers and not enough on the other two spheres of responsibility; students and parents. As an educator I wholeheartedly agree. It was nice to hear a conservative speak positively of public education, one thing that he said in particular stood out in my mind, “public education levels the playing field and breaks the cycle of poverty.” He also expressed concern about funding considering the current state of the budget in Missouri.
Mr. Shull’s comments were more limited on education, but I heard nothing that concerned me either. He felt that the biggest challenge would be for us to maintain funding on critical elements due to the current state of the budget in Missouri. He stated that one of the biggest problems schools have faced in the past is the involvement of the court system.
I next turned to the topic of the 2nd Amendment. To me there is no more fundamental of a right then the second amendment and I expect the people that I vote for to maintain a hard line on this issue. Mr. Berry told me that he felt that it was a fundamental right and that it helped maintain personal safety. Mr. Shull told me that he felt Americans should be allowed the right and that he would work to protect it.
I also asked both candidates about the Fair Tax. Mr. Berry said that he would support it. Mr. Shull said that he was not that familiar with it, but felt that it could end up being a big tax increase for Missourians.
When it comes time to vote in the August primary here in the 35th district, for Republicans, and any Democrats who have decided the party left them with this President, T.J. Berry and Noel Shull seem like two qualified candidates for house rep. I suspect that one of these two candidates will be our State Representative in November here in the 35th District come November. Personally, I will be voting for T.J. Berry in the August primary. It did take me some time to decide on this, and I even considered not endorsing one publicly. I highly encourage you to get to know both of these candidates before you make your own decision.
For More Information:
Mr. Shull does not have much of an Internet presence at this point in time, but he did tell me that he was getting his website up soon. The email that he gave me on his flier is Noel@NoelShull.com