Candidate for governor Catherine Hanaway visited West Plains Thursday morning for a town hall style meet-and-greet event held at Heroes Coffee Cafe in East Towne Village. Following the event, she stopped in to the Quill to discuss her relationship with the West Plains community.
“I really love West Plains. I have, all the way back to when Chuck Purgason and I were in the House together,” Hanaway said. Purgason, the former 33rd District Senator from Caulfield, served in the state House of Representatives from 1996 to 2004, until he was elected to the Senate.
Hanaway said she was pleased by the turnout to Thursday’s event, estimating that about 40 people were in attendance, representing a diverse array of age groups.
Among the questions asked of Hanaway, one stands out as surprising to her in its relevance to citizens throughout Missouri, whether rural or urban, she said. “And that is, ‘What are you going to do about our second amendment rights?’” said Hanaway.
“If you have that ability to defend yourself, it does make a difference,” she said. “I don’t think it’s an accident that most shootings happen in gun-free zones.” She added that since Gov. Jay Nixon last month vetoed Senate Bill 656 that would have eliminated requirements for education and training, a background check, and a permit in order to carry a concealed firearm, many constituents are expressing concern about their ability to conceal-carry.
Other issues brought up in the coffeehouse ranged from concerns about allowing Syrian refugees to settle in Missouri and questions regarding health facilities’ abilities to provide care needed to patients.
A question that Hanaway said she hears most often in West Plains and similar communities is, “What are we going to do about manufacturing plants?” She said the chief concern is job loss and economic damage to a community when a large plant moves elsewhere, and her answer to that question is to enact right-to-work laws.
“Manufacturers only want to go to right-to-work states,” she said, pointing out that Missouri has lost several automobile manufacturers, whereas in the last year, North Carolina has gained three new ones. Right-to-work laws prohibit workers from being required to join a labor union.
Hanaway said it is also important, through efforts such as the Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Technology in West Plains, to create a climate that fosters strong workers and “grow ‘em here.” She said doing so has longer-lasting and more stable effects that recruiting large companies and drawing them in – noting that the tax credits often used to bring them in only last until they expire, and without the credit, those businesses too often move elsewhere.