Cook, Kinder cite work for elderly in campaigns

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Trying to be heard in a race that's often lost among the contests for president and governor, the two candidates seeking to be the state's next lieutenant governor point to their professional experience as a reason they're best suited for the job.

Republican Senate leader Peter Kinder and Democrat Bekki Cook, former secretary of state, are both Cape Girardeau lawyers. Each insists he or she is best qualified to be the state's second in command, pointing to other offices held and efforts made to improve the lives of the elderly.

The office's duties under the constitution are limited to presiding over the state Senate, including casting a tie-breaking vote when needed, and stepping in if the governor dies or is otherwise unable to serve.

State law also has made the lieutenant governor the state's official advocate for the elderly, and the person also sits on various boards, including tourism and economic development panels.

Kinder -- who is assistant to the chairman of Rust Communications, which owns the Southeast Missourian -- points to his time leading the Senate and his work on issues important to seniors, including the state prescription drug program for the low-income elderly and changes in nursing home laws that increase penalties for those who abuse patients.

Cook said that while secretary of state, who regulates securities, she worked to warn seniors about potential scams. She said she visited senior centers and made brochures and a video available about things people should check out before investing their retirement incomes.

She also said she supports Democratic gubernatorial candidate Claire McCaskill's plan to help residents buy prescription drugs from Canada and to use the state's buying power to negotiate lower drug prices for poor residents.

Kinder said he supports importing drugs if they are proven safe but does not advocate any particular plan.

Kinder also said his time running the Senate would be valuable as lieutenant governor, who presides over the chamber and rules on disputes in Senate process.

Kinder said that in the 1980s, he worked for the company building Drury Inns, so he has an understanding of the tourism and hospitality industry.

Cook said her time practicing law and serving on the Missouri Board of Education also helped her learn to think on her feet and negotiate solutions.

She also pointed to changes she made while secretary of state to improve the office's technology, including making election results and business filings available online, and pushing to restore the presidential primary.

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