In the Kansas City area, some races for the Missouri House of Representatives were decided in the primary. In others, incumbents face only token opposition. Here, we focus on contests that provide important choices.
▪ District 12: There are three good candidates in this race. Democrat Sandy Van Wagner, a school board member and retired teacher, advocates for ethics reform, better education funding and worker protections. Glenn A. Gustitus, Libertarian, is a retired psychotherapist. He is poorly funded but presents a credible, common-sense approach to preventing unwarranted government intrusion into personal rights.
The nod goes to state Rep. Ken Wilson, a low-key conservative Republican from Smithville who gets along well with Democrats and has represented his district well in two terms. He opposes corporate tax giveaways and plans to push for increased road and bridge funding if re-elected.
▪ District 13: Tyler McCall, a small-business owner in Parkville, is a Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican Rep. Nick Marshall. The incumbent, a hard-charging conservative, is best known for launching an unsuccessful impeachment effort against Gov. Jay Nixon over an executive order involving same-sex couples. Nixon is open to criticism on a wide range of issues, but none of them rises to an impeachable offense.
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McCall says his top priority if elected would be to seek ethics reform in the scandal-plagued capital. He seeks full funding of the K-12 education formula and wants to represent the rights of workers.
▪ District 14: State Rep. Kevin Corlew, a Republican, follows many conservative principles, but he demonstrated independence by refusing to vote for right-to-work legislation GOP leadership was pushing. His list of endorsements demonstrates a commendable balance between labor and business interests. He supports improvements to roads and bridges to promote statewide commerce.
Martin Rucker, Democrat, was a consensus All-American tight end at the University of Missouri and played five years in the NFL. A construction project engineer, he supports stronger worker rights and increased education funding.
▪ District 17: Mark Ellebracht, a Democratic attorney from Liberty, deserves to win this seat over single-issue Republican Mary Hill.
Ellebracht supports extending the manufacturing jobs bill to ensure the Ford Claycomo plant continues to thrive. He is a strong supporter of law enforcement needs and knows the K-12 education foundation formula needs to be fully funded.
Hill, primarily funded by an out-of-district billionaire, wants to see Missouri become a right-to-work state. Erik Buck, Libertarian, is also on the ballot.
▪ District 21: State Rep. Ira Anders, Democrat, deserves re-election over challenger Vicki Riley, a Republican. Anders, a longtime teacher and school board member in Independence, works well with members of both parties and advocates well for education issues. Riley, who began teaching in 1976, presents no compelling reason to turn Anders out.
▪ District 28: Jerome Barnes, Democrat, is a member of the Raytown school board. William Van Buskirk, Republican, is a member of the Raytown Board of Aldermen.
Both men have deep community roots, and either could serve well as representative. If elected, Barnes, who strongly supports attention to senior issues and a wide range of education goals, would need to determine if he would resign the school board seat.
Van Buskirk would have to resign the alderman job that expires next April. We tip to Van Buskirk, whose common-sense approach to fiscal accountability could better help the state meet vital infrastructure needs.
▪ District 33: State Rep. Donna Pfautsch, a Republican, deserves a third term. The retired educator is an effective lawmaker who represents her district well on issues such as increased government accountability, early childhood education and gifted programs in schools.
Democrat Chase Linder has a political science degree from the University of Central Missouri and has worked in Democratic campaigns.