Gov. Jay Nixon, Missouri Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler and union leaders all challenged the hundreds of Democrats at Missouri Democrat Days in Hannibal to become involved by contacting their state legislators.
“Each of you has your own personal network, and most have email. Make your voices heard,” said Nixon, speaking at the Demo Days brunch on Saturday, March 2, at the Hannibal Inn & Conference Center.
Nixon stressed the importance of educating Missouri’s workforce. “The best economic tool we have is education,” he said. “I am proud of the state’s teachers. We need to respect and work with them.”
Promising an increase in education funding, Nixon said Missouri will have a “two-year scholarship program available to all students. ... We must do something for the 750,000 (people in Missouri) who are working but don’t have degrees. ... From preschool to graduate school, we will make sure” they are offered “the best education in the country.”
Regarding Medicaid, Nixon said an unmarried working mother now has the birth of her child covered by Medicaid “but she loses health care when the baby is delivered. The proposal we have will cover her when she goes back to work. It will take away the incentive to not work.”
founders both present
John Yancey and George Keller, who organized the first Missouri Democrat Days in Hannibal 42 years ago, were present at the banquet on March 2. Keller recalled the first Demo Days was at the Admiral Coontz Recreation Center.
Keller’s family group included three generations. His daughter and son-in-law, Susie and Dale Gosney, and Keller’s grandson, Kale Gosney, attended the banquet. As vice present of the Young Democrats of Missouri, Kale, 22, was among the speakers. Keller said he was proud of him and another grandson, Allen Keller. Both are students at Mizzou.
At the banquet a number of people were recognized for their work with the Democratic party.
Edith Johnson of Clark County was presented the Clarence Cannon Grass Roots Worker of the Year Award.
Ralls County farmer Eddie Joe Hamill, a former Farm Service Agency director, voiced his opinion about the sequester in Washington. “The two major parties must be part of the solution, not the problem,” he said. “Last week ended in a whimper. I believe the sequester needed to be done. Sequester is a means to hold everyone accountable.”
Dr. Jon Hagler, Missouri director of agriculture, was the featured speaker. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, serving as emcee, reported Missouri‘s number one industry is agriculture production.
‘When the American
farmer does well,
America does well.’
Page 2 of 3 - Hagler reported 25 years ago his start in politics was at Demo Days in Hannibal, adding “I love agriculture and public service.” Calling farmers the original members of the middle class, Hagler said “when the American farmer does well, America does well.”
Recalling his childhood memories of old-fashioned revivals, Hagler asked the crowd to picture themselves in a revival tent in July, and “celebrate the good things we have done and what we have to look forward to in the future.
“We may be cut from a different political cloth, but we share one commonality - the working men and women of America that have made it what it is today,” he said. “We are the middle class who built this country. We have taken big dreams and turned them into small businesses. ... It is the middle class who have answered the call and defended (the country).”
After listing numerous middle class professions, Hagler said the Democratic party has helped by “giving us Medicare and Social Security, the 40-hour work week, veterans’ benefits, education and student loans,” and several legislative acts.
He said “now is the time to act, to invest in schools and the food supply. ... Let’s reform what needs to be reformed.”
Jim Kabell, president of the Missouri-Kansas-Nebraska Conference of Teamsters, voiced his opposition to the “right to work” proposal currently in the state legislature, calling it an “all-out attack on union workers.” There are 24 “right to work” states, he reported. He challenged everyone to get involved by calling their state representatives, because, “they are going to try to ram this through between now and when the session begins in May.”
Opposition to the “right to work” proposal also was voiced by union members and retired union members attending Demo Days on Friday and Saturday. Jerry Caldwell, of Kirksville, Mo., called the proposal the “right to work for less,” and said its approval would hurt the unions, with people working for less than union wages.
Caldwell explained he was reared on a farm near Louisiana, Mo., in the 1940s before Missouri had child labor laws. “In Louisiana, they had ‘weed’ gangs. They would load up kids and take them to Stark’s Nursery.” As a third grader, Caldwell was in a weed gang for a brief time - until his father learned what he was doing.
“When they talk about unions, that is what comes forward to me,” he said. “That is what unions stand for. I’m retired from Local 562 Pipefitters and have 40 years time in.”
Glenda Schroeder of Macon County won the Barack Obama stadium blanket in a raffle drawing.
Page 3 of 3 - For more photos, see photo gallery.