The Star's recommendations for the Missouri House and Senate
The Kansas City Star
The Missouri legislature makes too much news for its nutty behavior and not enough for passing good laws.
Too many lawmakers seem to think they were elected to pursue narrow agendas and promote social and religious causes, rather than benefit their constituents and the state.
In recommending candidates for contested seats in Jackson, Clay, Platte and Cass counties, our preference is for independent-minded politicians who are more apt to do the serious work of legislating than to end up on the national comedy shows. That happened with appalling frequency last session.
To that end:
District 17: The only contested Senate seat in the metropolitan area presents a difficult choice. Republican Ryan Silvey, of Kansas City, gained valuable knowledge and clout as chairman of the House budget committee. But he has an unfortunate tendency to pick fights and use his legislative post to exact payback on people who disagree with him.
Democrat Sandra Reeves of Liberty served in the Missouri House from 1979 to 1992 and then held the office of Clay County collector of revenue for 16 years before being narrowly defeated in 2010.
Of the two, Silvey is better positioned to benefit the Kansas City region. We support his election with the hope that he’ll use his considerable talents to serve the public rather than engage in petty squabbles.
District 13: Democrat Gerry Byrne of Kansas City, a retired Air Force weather officer and National Weather Service meteorologist, wants to bring new jobs to Platte County. He has good ideas and is the choice over first-term GOP Rep. Nick Marshall of Parkville.
District 14: Freshman lawmaker Ron Schieber wasted no time joining the hard-right Republican ranks, including balking at funding life science research because of unreasonable fears about stem cell research. A better choice for this Northland district is Democrat Eric Pendell, whose experience as a business growth consultant should prove valuable.
District 15: Democrat Jon Carpenter is a promising candidate who grasps that the legislature needs more consensus-building and less political gamesmanship. He is one of the few candidates speaking out about loopholes and inequities in the state’s tax code. The owner of a marketing and advertising firm, Carpenter is the pick in this Northland district over lawyer Kevin Corlew.
District 16: Republican Noel J. Shull has a wealth of experience that would be valuable in the legislature. He’s a retired UMB Bank executive vice president, former chairman of the Missouri Gaming Commission and former member of the U.S. Small Business Administration National Advisory Council. He serves on the Mid-Continent Public Library Board of Trustees and the Missouri Cattlemen’s Foundation Board. Shull is the choice over Democrat Jim Sweere in this Northland district.
District 17: Republican Myron Neth of Liberty proved in his first term to be a pragmatic lawmaker who takes a bipartisan approach and is especially strong on economic development issues. Neth, who helps run a family cattle business, deserves re-election over Democrat Mark Ellebracht.
District 20: Democrat John A. Mayfield, a bank analyst, has many positive ties to this newly created eastern Jackson County district, including chairman of the Independence Human Relations Commission and past service on the Independence School District Review Committee. He is a better fit than GOP first-term incumbent Brent Lasater.
District 21: Democrat Ira Anders brings experience as a former teacher and Independence Board of Education member to Jefferson City. He proved in his first term to be able to work with members of both parties. He is the choice for this Independence district over Republican Vicki Riley.
District 24: Democrat Judy Morgan deserves a full term after stepping into fill a vacancy last fall. As a former teacher and president of the union representing teachers in the Kansas City Public Schools, she is strong on education issues. Her opponent for this midtown Kansas City seat is Republican Jonathan Sternberg.
District 25: Jeremy LaFaver, a Democrat, has lobbied in the Missouri Capitol for children’s issues and other good causes. He is an energetic, well-connected candidate who would hit the ground running. He is a strong choice over Republican Sally Miller for this Kansas City district, which includes Brookside and Waldo.
District 28: For this newly created district, which encompasses 95 percent of Raytown, Republican Jim Aziere is a better fit. He is serving his fourth term on the Raytown Board of Aldermen and is a long-time teacher and coach in the Raytown School District. Aziere’s Democratic opponent is incumbent Tom McDonald, who has been representing a district centered in Independence before new lines were drawn.
District 29: Republican Noel Torpey of Independence proved in his first term to be a consensus builder who focuses on crucial issues. He skillfully handled the land bank bill to help Kansas City improve dilapidated neighborhoods. Torpey has earned a second term over Democrat John Sutton.
District 30: First-term Republican Mike Cierpiot of Lee’s Summit is overly focused on some social issues. But he works well with other lawmakers and is a stronger candidate than Democrat Shere Alam.
District 31: Sheila Solon, a Republican, works extremely hard on behalf of her district and its constituents. The former Blue Springs City Council member has been effective in her first term in Jefferson City, working on legislation to benefit veterans, senior citizens and health consumers. She should be re-elected over Democrat Dale Walkup.
District 32: Republican Jeanie Lauer also brought solid experience as a Blue Springs council member to the legislature. She successfully championed a law to make it easier to track cell phones during emergencies. She is the choice over Democrat Sherbaz Khan.
District 33: Republican Donna Pfautsch, a Harrisonville council member, is the best candidate for this newly drawn district serving parts of Jackson and Cass counties. She recently retired as a gifted education teacher for the Harrisonville School District, and pledges to help create a more cooperative spirit in the legislature. Her opponent is Democrat Ron Harvey.
District 37: Grandview Alderman Joe Runions, a Democrat, has the pulse of this new district, which includes Grandview and parts of Kansas City, Lee’s Summit and Raymore. A retired electrician, Runions is an adviser for the Kansas City Port Authority and past president of the Missouri Valley Chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. His opponent is Republican Nola Wood.
District 38: Democrat Kevin Morgan, an Excelsior Springs businessman, promises to fight for adequate funding for schools and for affordable health care. He is a better choice than Republican T.J. Berry, who spends too much time protesting things going on in Washington instead of serving his constituents.
District 55: Democrat Jim White of Pleasant Hill recently retired after 35 years in investment banking, during which time he focused on municipal finance. That’s good experience for the legislature. His GOP opponent, first-term lawmaker Rick Brattin, tends to get involved in distracting ideological issues, such as sponsoring a bill requiring that the theory of intelligent design receive equal treatment to the teaching of evolution in science classes.
District 56: Republican Chris Molendorp of Belton, an insurance agency owner, is a serious legislator who has done good work for the Kansas City region. It was disappointing that he switched his vote to allow Republicans to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill limiting contraceptive coverage in health insurance policies. But one vote doesn’t erase an otherwise positive record. Molendorp is the choice over Democrat Patty Johnson.