PECULIAR — Vicky Hartzler, Missouri’s Fourth Congressional District Congresswoman, met with the Advanced Placement Government class at Raymore-Peculiar High School last Wednesday in the school’s auditorium.
The local politician was invited to the school by the class so they could hear her story and ask her topical questions about the current state of American government.
Hartzler opened up her time at the school by sharing her story of growing up in rural Cass County and how she taught at Ray-Pec’s “rival” Belton High School. She also told of how she was appalled by the environment she witnessed during her first trip to Missouri’s capitol when she was still a student.
“It planted a seed in me,” Hartzler said, remembering the cigarette smoke, alcoholism, and rumors of adultery in Jefferson City.
“I thought that people should be the same away from their families as they are at home,” she continued.
The future Congresswoman continued through life with the stigma that politics was a “dirty business,” never expressing much interest in running for office.
However, in the early 1990s, a family friend from Harrisonville encouraged Hartzler to run for Missouri State Representative as the position became available. The Cass County native was elected to represent Missouri’s 124th District in 1994 and held that position until 2001.
Hartzler was elected to her current position on November 2, 2010.
She assured the students Missouri’s government has changed since her first visit to the capitol.
“The vast majority of people there are good people and have the right heart,” she said.
After sharing her story, the students of Ray-Pec’s government class grilled Hartzler with questions ranging from her personal influences to immigration to the Affordable Care Act.
About her voting influences Hartzler said, “There are some principles I will not change based on my beliefs and my faith,” citing her strong pro-life and traditional marriage stances.
Her secondary influence, she said, is her constituents.
A female student approached the microphone and asked Hartzler for advice for female leaders.
“Do things with excellence. Work hard,” the Congresswoman said, also addressing her fear of the potential harmful future impacts of social media on political candidacies.
“You guys need to be very, very smart and careful about the decisions you make,” she said.
In response to an inquiry about the future of local farmers, Hartzler said that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been overstepping its bounds and they are making it difficult for farmers. She used an example of a bill the EPA tried to pass that would make it unlawful for dairy farmers to have milk tanks without a protective concrete wall around each one. The Rep cited such acts as unnecessary and detrimental to farming communities.
When asked about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or “Obamacare,” Hartzler said that the term “Affordable” is actually a misnomer and stated that she has voted 47 times to repeal the ACA.
The question-and-answer session ended with a pair of questions at opposite ends of the spectrum of seriousness.
First, the Congresswoman was asked what she believed America’s biggest problem is currently.
“The overspending…is unsustainable,” she said, stating that a balanced budget is achievable. Hartzler’s history has shown her focus on the country’s budget and she is a member of Paul Ryan’s House Budget Committee.
The last question inquired of Hartzler’s favorite movie.
“The Sound of Music,” she said, mentioning that Cars is in a close second.