MARYVILLE, Mo. — Currently the Missouri 6th Congressional District, which spans the northern third of the state, is represented by Republican Congressman Sam Graves, but if Henry Martin has anything to say about it, that will change in the upcoming November general election.
Martin, who faces four other Democratic candidates — Ramona Farris, Gena Ross, Donald Robert Sartain and Charles West — in the August primary before the possibility of facing Graves, is making his way to each of the counties in the district to talk with county commissioners about needs in the area.
“The one advantage I have over my competitors is I’ve got name recognition, so I’ve had the opportunity to go out and talk to constituents and the people who make decisions,” he said. “We’re not resting on our laurels.”
However, COVID-19 has made it slightly more difficult with meetings being rescheduled.
On July 9, he was in Nodaway County and spoke with commissioners about some of the more pressing needs in the area, which he told The Forum later that day are very similar to other needs he’s heard in the region.
“Infrastructure spending,” Martin said. “I come out in the rural areas and the roads are just a question mark on what you’re going to get. Some are going to be nice and smooth, others are going to be rough.”
He said from what he’s seen in Nodaway County, the roads aren’t bad.
Infrastructure is one of Martin’s three main pillars of his 2020 campaign.
“We haven’t fully invested in the infrastructure in the United States and that led to Flint, Michigan. We had our own type of Flint, Michigan in Hannibal, Missouri, in the 6th District.
He explained the city had switched to a more acidic water thus pulling lead out of the old pipes and increasing it in the system’s drinking water.
From replacing old water and sewer systems to roads, Martin said there’s a lot that needs to be done to help rebuild the infrastructure in the 6th District and he knows it’s going to take funding to do it.
“These are the roads that our farm goods are traveling on. … There’s some serious discussions that need to be had in Washington and they include, but are not limited to taxation and spending,” he said. “We’ve got to look at where we’re spending our money, how we’re spending our money, how we’re spending the people’s money.”
Martin said he understands that tax cuts sell candidates, but he’s willing to have difficult conversations about the need for taxes.
“One of the responsibilities of a congressman is to come out and educate the public,” he said. “If that means that me and my staff come out and we’re educating the public on exactly what is happening, that’s what we’re going to do.”
Education is another of Martin’s 2020 campaign pillars.
“We’re basically creating an inequality in our education system,” Martin said about budget cuts to education across the country. “School districts are having to find that money from somewhere else. … We’re basically creating an inequality in our education system based on people’s access to capital.”
Martin’s last pillar is justice.
“Justice should be fair. Justice should be blind, but right now I think we’re seeing where justice is not always either,” he said. “The court of public opinion can convict people before it even goes to court so juries become tainted.”
Martin said the bail system needs to be reworked and mandatory minimum sentences establish nothing other an an arbitrary penalty for an offender.
“I’m all for justice,” he said. “But nonviolent offenders, we need to think about other things to do, rehabilitation. We need to strengthen our communities not continue to tear them down.”
He said finding ways to keep people at home such as giving them community service or some other reasonable punishment to fit the crime strengthens the community and saves taxpayer dollars.
Martin said there are a lot of issues he’d push for in the 6th District, but one of those is a change at the state level to how minimum wage decisions are made.
“People deserve to live with dignity,” he said. Martin further explained he believes it’s important to pull the minimum wage off the table for the state and form an independent commission that will oversee raising it based on market indicators.
“You should be able to afford to live your life,” he said.
His priority regarding the decision-making process starts with what is right for the 6th District, the state of Missouri and the United States.
“I’m going to face the newspapers. I’m going to face the scrutiny,” Martin said. “We’re going to talk about the issues as they are, not as I see them, but as they are. … When you educate the public on what’s going on in Congress, they can make an informed decision and they can help guide you to your decision.”
Martin is a veteran of the United States Army fighting during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm who joined the National Guard and was deployed in response to the flooding of 1993.
After his service, he started a family, became a high school math teacher and coached high school sports in Kansas City.
For more information about where Martin stands on today’s issues, visit his website henrymartinforcongress.com.
In 2018, Graves won the election with 65.4 percent of the vote, or 199,796 votes. Martin received, 97,660 votes, or 32 percent vote. Libertarian Dan Hogan received 7,953 votes or 2.6 percent of the vote.
Born in Tarkio, Missouri, the incumbent assumed office on Jan. 3, 2001 and his current term ends on Jan. 3, 2021. Graves will face Christopher Ryan, of Liberty, Missouri, as the sole Republican contender in the Aug. 4 primary.