By Allen Edmonds, The Democrat Missourian
Ousted Presiding County Commissioner Herschel Young has set his sights on Washington.
The rural Harrisonville resident announced this week that he intends to run as a Democrat for the Fourth District U.S. House seat currently held by Republican Vicky Hartzler. Cass County Prosecuting Attorney Teresa Hensley, whose quo warranto action against Young precipitated his ouster as county commissioner the day he was sworn in, indicated several weeks ago her plan to run for Hartzlers seat as a Democrat as well.
Cass County Presiding Circuit Judge Jacqueline Cook affirmed Hensleys quo warranto motion ousting Young due to a 1995 felony assault conviction, but set aside the final order removing him from office pending appeal. She did, however, grant a motion barring him from serving as county commissioner during the appeal process.
Youngs final appeal before the Missouri Supreme Court was heard in November 2011, but the high court has yet to rule.
I havent heard a thing from Jefferson City, nobody has, Young said this week. Not even a whisper.
Meanwhile, he said, his lawyers agree that nothing prevents him from running for federal office.
There are three qualifications, he said. I have to be at least 25 years of age, be a citizen of the United States for seven years, and a resident of Missouri. Im qualified.
Young said the fight to keep his elected seat on the county commission was part of what spurred him to run for Congress.
Its about rights. The more I sit back and look at whats happening to our civil rights, our right to bear arms, our rights to repair our own vehicles, our right to have fair elections and the need for us to be able to restore our rights after weve paid our debt to society, I felt I needed to get more involved, he said.
Young said that if seated on the county commission, he would serve during his campaign for Congress. If the Supreme Court rules against him and hes not seated, then Ill have plenty of time to campaign, he said.
Young believes he will have appeal in the largely rural Fourth District.
Im not a big farmer, lawyer or doctor. Im a regular citizen just like the voters. Ive had all kinds of jobs, I run a small business, Ive struggled with all the same things most of us do, he said. After running as a Republican for the commission seat, Young said he thought long and hard before attaching himself to the Democratic Party.
I chose the Democratic Party simply because I feel their more into individual rights. Certainly not everyone, but the higher officials in the Republican Party didnt seem to show a lot of concern that the voters rights in the commission election were not respected.
He said he has also been impressed by Harrisonville Democrat Luke Scavuzzo since he was named to Bill Cooks South District commission seat last month. Cook, a Republican, resigned the commission to take a position in private business.
But to be honest, Im not asking for anyone to vote for me because of a party. Im asking for them to vote for me because of what kind of person I am.
He said he is not ashamed of his assault conviction in 1995, in which he pleaded guilty to following an Arkansas man 17 miles in his truck and injuring him severely enough to initially warrant a Class A felony assault charge. The man had entered a Harrisonville convenience store where his former wife was working and had spit at her when she refused to sell him alcohol. The man was intoxicated at the time, Young said.
I shouldve never been charged. If I wouldnt stand up for my wife, whos going to say I would stand up for you when I get to Washington? he said. I will fight for anyone Im elected to represent. He said at the time, he was not aware of the extent of the injuries his attack caused, but I know there were three of them in that vehicle, and he got out and came after me. The extent of the injuries were not an issue. His actions caused this, Young said.
He said he would have never felt pressured to plead guilty in the case if, at the time, he had the resources to fight the case.
Thats part of what Im concerned about. I want to fight for all rights, including equal justice for all, not just those that can afford it. Justice shouldnt be a financial burden.
While he believes he is more familiar with some issues than others, people shouldnt underestimate me. Labor and unions? Im ready to debate, he said.
He shares Hartzlers commitment to forcing the federal government to operate on a balanced budget.
I believe every household in the United States has to live within their means why shouldnt the government? This excessive debt is the main reason we have such high unemployment and businesses leaving the country. Its an incredible burden on both small and large businesses to have to cover such excessive debt, Young said.
In addition, he said he believes corporations should not have to pay more than a 1 percent tax if theyre based in the United States.
Everyone believes corporations are so rich, but the fact is, theyre just entities that distribute money to citizens, who are also taxed on that same money, he said.
Second Amendment rights are also critical to the survival of the nation as we know it, Young said.
Thats not a privilege. No one should have the ability to remove that right. Youre only free when you can protect yourself from the government our forefathers put that amendment in the Constitution to keep us free.
Young said he is in the process of forming a campaign committee.
We already have a pretty good team of citizens on board, and within the next couple of weeks, were going to begin organizing the other counties, Young said.
Young has served as alderman in Lake Annette and is an owner of Youngs Tire & Wheel of Harrisonville.
He upset incumbent Presiding Commissioner Gary Mallory in November 2010, but was served with papers temporarily ousting him from the position just hours after taking office in January 2011.