Kansas City Dem could be Callaway’s new state senator

Unless there’s a change in the next couple of weeks, Callaway County’s state senator could be a Kansas City-based Democrat for the next two years.

The new state Senate districts proposed early Thursday morning by a citizen’s commission are not official until after the commission holds more public hearings, and the commissioners can change the proposal during the next two weeks based on any comments they receive.

But, based on the district lines released early Thursday, perhaps the biggest change in Mid-Missouri is a numbering difference between the new commission’s map and the one drawn late last year by appeals court judges, that later was overturned by the state Supreme Court.

The judges’ map had moved the 7th District from St. Louis County to central and northeastern Missouri, ranging from Callaway and Audrain counties on the west to Lincoln County on the Mississippi River.

State Rep. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane, had announced plans to seek that Senate seat in this year’s elections.

But, while the new commission’s Senate map keeps that same general shape (Pike and Ralls counties are moved to the 18th District, replaced by Monroe and Warren counties), commissioners named it District 10, which doesn’t have an election until 2014.

The 10th District now is in Kansas City, represented by Sen. Jolie Justus, a Democrat who is term-limited at the end of 2014.

“It is an unusual situation, although not unprecedented,” Justus told a reporter Thursday afternoon. “What I can say to the people of both my district and to the people of possibly my new district is that they will be represented, for sure.

“Maybe by one, and maybe by two senators, moving forward.”

What remains of the current 10th District in the new map was renamed the 7th District and, after re-electing Justus two years ago, voters there will have another chance to send a senator to Jefferson City later this year.

Justus said she’s talked with some of the senators, including Mike Kehoe, who now represent various counties in the proposed new 10th District.

“They will work with me to make sure that all of the constituent services are covered,” Justus said. “As far as anything else, they (voters) should feel free to contact both the senators they elected and put in office, and then, also, me, if I become the senator of that geographic area.”

Although she now lives in, and represents, an urban and suburban area of Kansas City, Justus noted she was raised in Branson, and won’t misrepresent the people of the more rural outstate district.

“I don’t think it creates a significant number of problems,” she said. “You are right — I am not always going to agree with my new constituents, and they may not always agree with me.

“But that happens with me right now, in my current district. I oftentimes vote in more conservative ways than my constituents in Kansas City would want me, because they’re, actually, a little bit to the left of me.”

Different groups have tabbed her as “one of the most conservative members of the Missouri state Senate, based on my voting record,” Justus said, and as “an outstanding progressive legislator.”

For the last 10 years, Callaway County formed the northeastern corner of the 6th District, currently represented by Kehoe, R-Jefferson City.

As noted, the judges’ map had moved Callaway County into a new district, and the new commission map keeps that change.

The judges had placed Cole, Osage, Maries, Miller, Moniteau, Morgan and Cooper counties into the 6th, while the new commission’s map added Gasconade County on the east to the new 6th District and moved Cooper County into the new 19th District, along with Boone County.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, has said he liked the idea of combining Cooper County with Boone County, and likely would run for re-election in the 19th District. State Rep. Mary Still, D-Columbia, said Thursday afternoon she would challenge him in the newly proposed district.

The new commission map modified the 16th District, now served by Sen. Dan Brown, R-Rolla.

It added Camden County on the west (now the northernmost county in the 33rd District), while keeping Pulaski, Phelps, Crawford and Dent counties from the current district.

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