I start this day with mixed emotions. There's a sense of relief that this long election cycle is finally coming to an end. But there's an equal amount of concern that the national election results could spell enormous problems and issues that may well plague this nation long into the future.
I no longer pretend to know anything about the political process. In my younger years, I mistakenly believed in some higher ideals and lofty promise that elections could bring.
But the world is no longer the image of my youth and with those inevitable changes, comes a level of cynicism when important elections roll around.
Believe me, this election is important.
Is it just me or are we offered an especially weak slate of candidates on the state level in Missouri?
Maybe I am looking at the candidates with far too much scrutiny, with far too many expectations. It certainly wouldn't be a first for me.
Ask virtually anyone - including newspaper columnists - to name the match-ups in all of the state races. If you can find an informed response, you'd be lucky.
But then again, perhaps this, too, is nothing new.
Are you enthused about Cole McNary or Susan Montee? Does Ed Martin ring a bell?
The point is not to bemoan these candidates because they obviously have something to offer. The point is that given the barrage of national political news - which captures our interest, as it should - we know so very little about the state candidates other than the brief snapshots that fog our election thought process.
There are however two local races for House seats in Missouri that should gain our attention.
Often our local representatives to the Missouri House are the closest and most effective contact we have with the actions taken in Jefferson City.
So these two races - for the Missouri 148th and 149th districts - deserve our attention.
In the Missouri 149th House seat, Democratic incumbent Steve Hodges of East Prairie is facing newcomer Republican Neal Boyd of Sikeston.
I know both candidates well and I count them both as friends. I will still count them as friends when the final vote tally is recorded.
I can only hope the feeling is reciprocated.
Though I have no vote in this district, I will support Steve Hodges in his bid to retain the 149th District House seat.
Hodges has been a friend to this region and even to many outside of his district. He is a tireless conservative who happens to be a member of the Democratic party. Hodges is above all accessible to the voters in this region. He will listen and take those concerns to Jefferson City. He's proven that time and time again.
Boyd is a bright young man with a solid future in the political arena. He has the drive to succeed and the down-home charm that is instantly comforting.
But to vote for Boyd you also need a reason to vote against Hodges. I have not found that reason.
I said in an earlier column that qualifications and performance trump party affiliation.
As a proud Republican, I believe Hodges will continue to cross party lines and represent all of our interests. He has the track record to prove that's the case.
The 148th Missouri House race started with an interesting primary battle. There was as much interest focused on the primary as there is on the general election this week.
Holly Rehder, the Republican nominee, has a back story made for politics. From humble beginnings, she worked tirelessly to gain a hard-fought education and establish a successful business.
Holly's campaign is a textbook lesson in politics. She entered the race early, garnered substantial support and spent countless hours pressing the flesh and visiting with voters far and wide.
Bart Ziegenhorn, the Democratic nominee for the 148th House seat, is a fresh face and enthusiastic campaigner. With a long family history of public service, Bart brings a legacy of volunteerism and youthful exuberance that is so refreshing in the often-jaded world of politics.
In many races, we're prone to think our vote is for the lesser of two evils. Not the case in this race.
Both Rehder and Ziegenhorn offer something positive for our district and I honestly believe either would serve with honor and pride if elected.
I will cast my vote for Bart Ziegenhorn. I believe this young man has the potential to establish his own legacy of service and commitment to the residents of this district.
And I believe Ziegenhorn will listen to our concerns and seek those who can offer solutions. And that alone is the primary reason we seek someone to carry local concerns and issues to Jefferson City.
I don't ask for agreement on these endorsements. That is not my purpose.
I will simply remind voters to cast their ballot on election day and then - and perhaps more importantly - to support those who will wage the battles for our interests with integrity and common sense.