As this years worthless session made abundantly clear, the Missouri legislature needs a lot of help.
It needs senators and representatives who care more about public service than about politics.
It needs lawmakers who wont embarrass themselves and the state by proposing idiotic measures destined to be panned on late-night comedy shows.
It needs legislators who are willing to stand up to the special interests and ideologues in Jefferson City and speak up on behalf of children, good public schools and healthy families and communities.
With those qualifications in mind, The Kansas City Stars editorial board is recommending candidates for Senate and House seats in the Aug. 7 primaries.
District 7: This seat came open as a result of the states redistricting process and drew two strong candidates in the Democratic primary. Our choice is Crystal Williams, a dynamic Jackson County legislator who has made a career of championing the right causes in Jefferson City.
As a lobbyist for Partnership for Children and other groups, Williams has fought for better schools, accessible health care and womens reproductive rights, and for better treatment of children and vulnerable citizens.
As a county legislator, she boldly took on the old boys network in the courthouse and won respect for doing so. We would expect her to do the same in the Capitol.
Her opponent, Jason Holsman, has represented a House district in south Kansas City and Grandview for six years. He is a respected lawmaker, but right now the region needs a fighter. Thats Williams.
The district encompasses downtown, parts of midtown Kansas City, Grandview and a slice of Lees Summit. No Republican is running.
District 12: Josh Hurlbert of Smithville has been working as a field representative in the office of U.S. Congressman Sam Graves. He appears to be a boilerplate, anti-tax conservative but less focused on social issues than his Republican primary opponent, recently retired Smithville Police Chief Ken Wilson. Hurlbert is energetic and has the potential to team up with other Northland legislators in promoting economic development. No Democrat is in the race.
District 15: Carol Suter has a wealth of experience that would prove valuable in the legislature. She has served on the Gladstone City Council since 2007 and is currently the mayor. As the owner of a legal and management consulting firm, she works with small businesses and non-profit groups in this area and around the country. She practiced law for a number of years and has a long record of civic service and volunteerism.
Her opponents in the Democratic primary are Jon Carpenter and Shon Adamson, both of Kansas City, North. The winner will challenge Republican Kevin Corlew.
District 16: After being forced to resign as Clay County auditor in 2009 as a special prosecutor was investigating his office for mismanagement and misconduct, Vic Hurlbert is taking a run at this Northland legislative seat. Fortunately, voters have a much better choice in Republican Noel J. Shull.
A retired UMB Bank vice president, Shull has served on the U.S. Small Business Administration National Advisory Council and as chairman of the Missouri Gaming Commission. He would bring integrity and strong experience to the office. The winner will take on Democrat Jim Sweere.
District 22: Brandon Ellington won a special election a year ago and deserves to be elected for a full term in this East Side district. He is committed to working at home and in Jefferson City on behalf of safer streets and neighborhoods. His opponent in the Democratic primary is Henry Carner, a retired Independence firefighter. No Republican is on the ballot.
District 23: As a planner for Kansas City, Randy Dunn understands the needs of the East Side neighborhoods, which he seeks to represent. He has been impressive in candidate screenings and is our pick in the Democratic primary over Erik K. Stafford and Derron L. Black. There is no Republican candidate.
District 24: Voters in this midtown Kansas City district are fortunate to have two strong candidates on the ballot. Our choice is Sarah Gillooly. As manager of governmental affairs for Planned Parenthood of Kansas & Mid-Missouri, she knows how to make the case for womens health and reproductive rights. Smart and passionate, she is well-suited to speak to the needs of her district and its constituents.
Her opponent in the Democratic primary is Judy Morgan, former president of the union representing teachers in the Kansas City Public Schools. Morgan is a hard worker, knowledgeable and well-connected. Voters cant go wrong in this race, but Gillooly strikes us as the candidate more likely to have an impact. Jonathan Sternberg is running on the Republican ticket.
District 25: The winner of this Republican primary will face tough competition from Jeremy LaFaver in the general election in this heavily Democratic Kansas City district. We prefer newcomer Joshua Judy over Sally Miller, a Republican committeewoman. He supports maintaining the non-partisan judicial selection system, whereas Miller favors a more political process.
District 27: This district in south Kansas City unfortunately has drawn a weak field of Democratic candidates and no Republican opposition. Bonnaye V. Mims has not been impressive as a member of the Hickman Mills school board, but her experience in that capacity makes her better qualified to serve in the legislature than Bill Clinton Young or Adnan Bayazid. If elected, she needs to be more responsive to constituents and show more willingness to lead.
District 28: Democratic incumbent Tom McDonald of Independence is known as a thoughtful legislator who is a reliable vote for fairness and good government. He sponsored good, though unsuccessful, legislation this year calling upon the state to collect sales taxes on Internet purchases. His primary opponent is Patrick J. Riehle of Raytown. The winner will take on Republican Jim Aziere.
District 31: Republican Sheila Solon hit the ground running in her first term. The former Blue Springs councilwoman has been honored for her work as an advocate for senior citizens and veterans groups and is an essential member of the bipartisan Kansas City caucus. She is the choice over Chris Lievsay, who serves on the Blue Springs City Council.
This district also has a Democratic primary. Dale Walkup has solid business experience and is a long-time member of the Blue Springs school board and should be the nominee. His opponent is Syed Asif.
District 37: Grandview Alderman Joe Runions is clearly the best Democratic candidate to serve this new district, which encompasses all of Grandview and slivers of south Kansas City, Lees Summit and Raymore. A retired electrician, he is an adviser for the Kansas City Port Authority and past president of the Missouri Valley Chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Contrary to accusations from a much weaker opponent, Chris Moreno of Lees Summit, Runions has been integral to progress in Grandview for many years. A third opponent, Mike Sager of Lees Summit, has served in the legislature before but ran into trouble for mismanaging his campaign account. The winner will face Republican Nola Wood.