The Kansas City Star has hired Crystal Thomas as its new Jefferson City correspondent.
Thomas, 26, joins The Star from The State Journal-Register of Springfield, Ill. where she covered city government. She was a summer intern for The Star in 2014 and later covered the Missouri General Assembly for The Joplin Globe.
During her first stint in Jefferson City, Thomas reported on how tax cuts to multi-state corporations, not a “slow economy,” as state officials insisted, left a huge deficit that forced reductions in spending for school transportation and higher education. Thomas also strove to put faces to the issues debated by lawmakers. When the state cut funding for home health care providers, she profiled Shanda York, a Joplin area woman who suffered from spina bifida and hydrocephalis.
Thomas traveled to Houston to help The Globe’s sister paper with coverage in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. In Springfield, she wrote about secrecy at the city-owned utility and how a priest with a substantiated record of sexual abuse found a soft landing with a the city government job.
“We’re thrilled to have Crystal back on our team,” said Greg Farmer, The Star’s managing editor. “She brings energy and enthusiasm to this important role, and her commitment to ensuring accountability from public officials will serve our readers very well.”
Thomas, who grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago, said she developed a passion for journalism as a reporter on her high school newspaper when she discovered that she could question authority and hold power to account as a form of serving the public. She attended the University of Missouri, where she received a Bachelor’s of Journalism in December 2015.
At The Star, Thomas said she intends to make clear how policies and politics affect the everyday lives of Kansas Citians and Missourians. As a reporter in Jefferson City, she looks to shed light on the influences that drive decisions made by elected officials.
“I plan to leave no stone unturned in my time covering the Capitol,” Thomas said.