Bridgeton, MO – When Byron DeLear spoke to a “town hall” gathering in Bridgeton recently, the candidate for state representative of the 70th District had an intelligent logic about him that drew the attention of labor, education, community safety and health advocates.
DeLear believes solutions to today’s problems can mean jobs – with the right legislation and the right representatives.
Operating Engineers Local 513 hosted DeLear because they say he is a worker-friendly candidate who will do the right thing for labor. Random voters who attended believe in DeLear because he listens and cares about their plight, whether it is in schools or with the nearby toxic landfill.
DeLear, chairman and CEO of Energy Equity Funding, started his campaign for state representative cutting right to the chase, connecting the idea of jobs to the disastrous conditions at the Bridgeton landfill.
The green energy-minded business executive has knowledge, education and environmental concern long under his belt, and says if voters can put him in office, he’ll push for what’s right for working men and women and what’s right for the health of a community being threatened by 45,000 tons of nuclear wast (equal to the steel and concrete of the St. Louis Arch) buried in that West Lake Landfill.
Although there had been no Democratic candidates filing to run against DeLear at press time, he anticipates competition during the 2016 primary election.
The 70th District is currently represented by Democrat Bill Otto, who is running for congress against Congresswoman Ann Wagner.
“In 2007-2008, I saw how the great recession hammered working families; the economic crash ravaged our workforce. My friend lost his job, and I began to think about ways in which we could turn things around,” DeLear said.
So, five years ago, he helped build a coalition to get a clean- energy bill passed in Jefferson City. The law was based on wording from Berkeley California. It was a clean energy environmental bill, he said.
“But I recognized that this clean energy bill wasn’t just an environmental bill. It was a job creating bill and an economic development initiative that wouldn’t cost the state a dime. And that’s how we got the bill passed.
“It creates jobs, saves folks on the energy bills, and is good for the environment. I’m happy to report that we’ve just closed on the second largest clean-energy project of its type in the nation in 2015 this past summer putting electricians, insulators, and pipefitters to work,” DeLear said.
“Bottom line? Good policy can create good-paying American jobs — union jobs. This is my passion, advancing legislation that makes people’s lives better.”
Operating Engineers’ Organizer John Bachinski said the majority of the Missouri GOP controlled legislature tried last year to remove all the funding from Missouri’s budget for the Missouri Department of Labor’s investigators who are responsible for investigating Prevailing Wage fraud on Federal and State funded projects.
He said DeLear will stand up for workers and push for heavier prevailing wage standards.
DeLear says as state representative, he will make sure there is funding for the Missouri Department of Labor.
“I will represent workers and their rights,” DeLear said, noting that in Wisconsin, a recently imposed right-to-work state, prevailing wage is under attack and now it is now law to allow employers to force employees to work with no guaranteed days off, virtually eliminating the weekend.
“Now I know we all like cheese, but when I’m in Jeff City I’ll make sure Missouri does not turn into a Wisconsin.”
DeLear also highlighted one of the most pressing problems facing his district: the existence of a subsurface smoldering landfill fire at the West Lake landfill that is slowly spreading illegally dumped nuclear waste from the Manhattan Project--the secret U.S. military program created in 1942 to develop the atomic bomb. The landfill is not designed to safely house nuclear waste. It is unlined, in a floodplain and close to heavily populated areas.
DeLear says that problem should become a priority for the state.
“The families living near the West Lake Landfill deserve a permanent solution that keeps their children safe,” he said. “I will work tirelessly until that situation is resolved.”