Here are The Star’s recommendations in selected, contested races for the Missouri House in Republican and Democratic primaries on Aug. 2.
▪ 14th District: First-term GOP state Rep. Kevin Corlew is being challenged by political newcomer Sean Pouche in this Northland district.
Corlew, a lawyer and former school board member, voted against right-to-work legislation and incurred the wrath of anti-union megadonor David Humphreys. The Joplin businessman has funneled $25,000 into Pouche’s campaign, while Pouche — a Parkville businessman — has raised less than $11,000 from other sources.
Corlew has represented his conservative district well. He stresses his support for economic development, education and public safety. He opposes abortion and supports tort reform and gun rights. Pouche has good credentials but says supporting right-to-work would be his top priority.
▪ 17th District: First-term State Rep. Nick King, a Republican, faces another Humphreys-backed challenger, also because he did not support right-to-work.
Mary Hill received $50,000 from Humphreys and the businessman’s sister.
In this contest King is vastly superior to Hill. He has good background on the Liberty City Council and was successful in getting a Northland project enacted into law.
▪ 19th District: This Northeast district features an intriguing Democratic contest between Ingrid Burnett, a former member of the Kansas City school board and wife of former State Rep. John Burnett, and Manny Abarca IV, a fresh face who has worked in several high-profile Democratic election campaigns but never run for office himself.
The nod goes to Burnett, a career educator and longtime resident of the district, who supports expanding Medicaid, fully funding the public education funding formula and historic preservation.
Abarca, who works in constituent services in U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver’s office, says his federal work has prepared him well to serve constituents at the state level. His energetic approach and fresh perspectives will equip him for elective success in the future.
▪ 23rd District: Democratic state Rep. Randy Dunn, who was first elected in 2012 and was re-elected in 2014, is being challenged by Derron Black, an autoworker who also sought the seat in 2012.
Dunn, a former planner for Kansas City and a licensed Realtor, is an impressive and articulate representative of his district with solid ideas for ways to improve life there for constituents. He supports urban gardening and farming, criminal justice reform and more economic development in the district.
▪ 27th District: The next representative from this district will be either challenger Richard Brown or incumbent Rep. Bonnaye Mims. Both are Democrats; no Republican filed.
Brown, a career educator and teachers union official, demonstrates common sense, awareness of district concerns and a keen appreciation for high ethical standards. He would push against predatory lending, to reduce gun violence, for proper funding of public schools, for expanding health care and for protecting the right to vote.
When Mims was first elected as representative in 2012, constituents heard her promise to step down from the Hickman Mills school board seat she had held for more than a decade. She has not done that. In her first term in the General Assembly she was a vocal advocate for public education and improved services for the mentally ill. Critics claim she has lost focus on legislative duties since then.
Brown notes that Mims missed more than 90 votes this year in Jefferson City and was eager for lobbyists’ gifts. “I will not take gifts from lobbyists,” he said.
▪ 28th District: This open seat attracted five people with good resumes to file as Democrats. The Democratic winner will face a Republican in November.
On the Democratic side, two current members of the Raytown Board of Aldermen, Jim Aziere and Josh Greene, and one former alderman, Pat Riehle, are competing against Jerome Barnes, a member of the Raytown School Board, and Diane Krizek, who runs a motorcycle parts business and owns and publishes a weekly newspaper.
Aziere, who taught in Raytown schools for more than 30 years, gets The Star’s recommendation because of his record of respected public service and his independent approach. He has served more than 17 years as alderman. He previously ran for office as a Republican but says as a longtime union member he can no longer tolerate GOP union-bashing. He calls for returning control of education to local districts and fighting against laws that grant special privileges to corporations and millionaires.
▪ 31st District: Republican incumbent state Rep. Sheila Solon is the clear choice in this district. She is being challenged by Dan Stacy, a business owner who received $25,000 in Humphreys contributions to fund the contest.
The winner on Aug. 2 will be seated in January because there is no Democrat running.
Solon has held the seat since 2010. She is an effective lawmaker. Her measures to improve the way colleges and universities handle sexual assault cases and one prescribing how video from police body cameras is handled were signed into law.
Her refusal to support right-to-work legislation, which she says the district overwhelmingly opposes, is a hot-button issue for Stacy.
Monday: The Star’s recommendation in the Missouri Senate’s 11th District