Taylor Burks is hoping to head to Washington, D.C.
Burks formally announced his candidacy for Missouri’s 4th Congressional District seat Tuesday evening in a packed event space at Shakespeare’s Pizza – South.
The former Boone County clerk is running as a Republican. He is part of a growing field of candidates seeking Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s seat. Hartzler announced her candidacy for Sen. Roy Blunt’s seat last month as he is retiring from public office.
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Burks joins other Republicans in the field including state Rep. Sara Walsh, R-Ashland, former state Sen. Ed Emery, whose district was in western Missouri, and Cass County District 2 Commissioner Ryan Johnson.
JD Leathers, a resident of Archie, is the lone Democrat to enter so far.
What’s important for the 4th District?
Burks sees veterans and farming as two areas to support through his candidacy.
He was named director of the state’s Division of Labor Standards in December 2018.
Burks served as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy, and the 4th District includes two military bases — Whiteman Air Force Base and Fort Leonard Wood.
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“It is important we have a veteran in Congress who can speak about military issues and those affecting military families and veterans,” he said. “A lot of the issues veterans have is processes that are in place are dysfunctional.
“It is critical we have a member of Congress that knows the challenges veterans face with our health care system and that our families face when we are deployed.”
Burks is the fifth generation of a southwest Missouri farm family. He wants to apply himself to policies that would aid agriculture in Missouri as its No. 1 industry.
Along with agricultural priorities, Burks also wants to look at education and allow the use of vouchers so public funds go toward charter or private schools. He wants to look at how schools react to life-changing situations like the COVID-19 pandemic.
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“We are concerned about education systems and what has happened in the country over the past 18 months,” Burks said. “(Southern Boone County) was a school district that bent over backwards to get our children in-seat education to continue to see their friends and learn and get quality education even in the midst of the pandemic.”
Children in public schools that went to virtual-only will suffer long-term consequences, he said.
He wants more accountability for instruction decisions, while allowing alternatives for parents and children, such as charter schools where parents could have more control over what is being taught, he said.
A different type of candidate
Burks does not see himself as a career politician who just keeps supporting or continuing the same efforts when in higher office.
“Transplanting a lot of the issues that we saw in Jefferson City — this past year, especially — to Washington, D.C., is not the solution to the gridlock and problems we see in national government,” he said.
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His public office experience was as the Boone County clerk, but he does hold other leadership positions within organizations.
He is president of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Missouri board.
“There are questions and concerns about election integrity,” Burks said. “As a former election authority, I can speak on those issues with first-hand issues, not just through talking points.”
Burks pledged to spend only 10 years as an elected official in Washington if elected.
He urged other candidates to make a similar term-limit pledge so as not to become a career politician.
“I think it is important to go and speak to Missouri values and then come home,” he said. “Live and work where you came from, but also come back to live and work under the same policies and rules you worked for in Washington.”