Political ambitions cut short for Missouri DVM
Mt. Vernon, Mo. - Although disappointed in his election loss for a state representative seat, Charles Dake, DVM, says he looks forward to returning to the local veterinary practice he shares with his son.
MT. VERNON, MO. — Although disappointed in his election loss for a state representative seat, Charles Dake, DVM, says he looks forward to returning to the local veterinary practice he shares with his son.
Elected as a Missouri State Representative for Lawrence County in a February 2006 special election, Charles "Doc" Dake, a Democrat, sought a full term to fulfill his hopes of reforming the state's healthcare program, public schooling system and minimum wage compensation. But his political ambitions were denied after losing the seat by 577 votes to a challenger he says focused on "untruths" to secure the election.
Dake, 67, says he was disappointed that the campaign of Don Ruzicka, a Republican and conservation agent, was built on negative attacks against him. Ruzicka's campaign used polling techniques that Dake says might have led voters to believe he supported issues including gay marriage and abortion. Dake, who has seven children, two of whom are adopted, denies the suggestions and says he wanted to use his campaign to discuss the issues he stood for rather than the qualities of his competitor. He was not successful.
"I didn't run anything negative. If I had to come out and tell half-truths, then I didn't want to win," Dake says.
Ruzicka's campaign platform included improving the budget, strengthening the school system and working for the best interests of landowners and farmers.
First interested in running because he was upset by state budget and Medicaid cuts for seniors and the handicapped, Dake says his focus in seeking the seat was to try and help those who had been left behind by finance reductions. But the election outcome didn't give him that chance.
"On election night, I was leading in most of the counties, and we were feeling good. Then the last three or four precincts came in, and he beat us," Dake says. "But it was a great experience."
He now plans to go back to working full time with large animals at his son's practice in Miller, Mo., the 11-year-old Dake Veterinary Clinic. Dake's interest in veterinary medicine initially fell second to another career path. He enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1958, but was quickly discharged after an allergic reaction during a surgery to remove his wisdom teeth.
"They tried to kill me," Dake laughs. "I was discharged immediately after on medical leave. I'm called a veteran, but that's as far as I got."
After returning home, Dake decided to seek his DVM degree, which he received in 1966.
A former Joplin Humane Society President ('69-'70), Dake supports Missouri House Bill 1600 in favor of allowing pet owners 30 days to correct any unacceptable animal care or condition issue rather than having the animals immediately confiscated by the state. Too often, Dake contends, the state charges owners unreasonable care fees, preventing the animals from being returned to their homes. The bill has yet to be voted on in the House.
For now, Dake has no plans to run in another election. He wants to focus on his work at his son's practice.
"I'm in good health and enjoy it. Why not go a couple more years?"