Union leader, former state employeed seek Democratic slot on 151st House District ballot

Thursday, July 26, 2012
Ryan William Holder
Gary Gaines

A local labor union leader will face a recently retired, longtime state employee in the upcoming Democratic primary race for the Missouri House of Representatives 151st District seat.

Ryan William Holder of Advance, Mo., a field representative for the Laborers International Unit local No. 1104, is hoping to best Gary Gaines of Dexter, Mo., a former regional director for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, in the Aug. 7 election.

The winner will face the winner of the Republican primary, either Dennis Fowler of Advance or Bob Thrower of Dexter, on the November ballot.

Holder, who ran for the 159th District seat in 2004 but lost in the primary, said he decided to run because he feels there is "a war going on in Jefferson City against the middle class."

He said he wants to see more Democrats and Republicans working together in the state legislature, and thinks that if he were elected, that could happen, because he agrees with some of their efforts, such as reform of tax credit distribution.

Other ideas some Republicans in the state capitol do support, however, Holder said he is completely against, such as making Missouri a right-to-work state. Still, he feels that he would be a good resolver of conflict, he said, with 26 years of experience as a union negotiator.

Holder has received several campaign contributions from organized labor. According to the most recent report for his campaign filed with state election officials, his total receipts for the election were $1,200, which included several contributions from local unions.

He said that as a legislator, he does not think he would be influenced by organized labor, but that he does appreciate the support it provides him.

"It's not like they are going to get me in Jefferson City and pull my strings," he said. "I want to help all people in the district, and would always be open to talking to them and hearing their problems."

Gaines retired from the Department of Natural Resources in April and said serving in government is something he has been interested in for a long time, and was prompted by his background experience with public education. A school board member in Dexter for 12 years in the 1980s and 1990s, Gaines said his efforts, if elected, would be primarily to attempt to improve public education. He specifically would like to see smaller class sizes in schools -- which he said is tied to higher student achievement -- and more support for parents.

He also named agricultural burning as a practice he would like to see stopped because of risks to health and safety, but said he would want to minimize the effect of a ban for farmers.

Gaines said the ties to local governments he formed during his years with the department would be a benefit for the district and that he also strongly believes in helping small businesses overcome obstacles. He owned a small engineering firm for 16 years, and said he sees a need for more financial support and guidance for start-up businesses.

Gaines' total receipts for the election are reported by state elections officials at $4,000 in the most recent quarter. Gaines said he made a loan in that amount to himself and hasn't sought outside contributions, but may do so if he wins the primary. His campaign strategy, he said, has been to get out and hear from as many people in the district as possible. He has been out knocking on doors for four or five days a week since mid-May.

The 151st District covers Stoddard County with a small part of Scott County. The current district's area before redistricting consisted of most of Stoddard County, the southwestern third of Cape Girardeau County and a small portion of Wayne County, and was represented by Billy Pat Wright, who is vacating the seat due to term limits.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

Advance, MO

Dexter, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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