PRIMARY ELECTIONS: Missouri’s 24th House District

The legislative district encompasses south Columbia.
Rep. Chris Kelly

Voters will go to the polls Tuesday to cast ballots in the state’s primary elections. These elections will decide which candidates will represent their party in the November general elections.

The candidates for the 24th district of the Missouri House of Representatives will run unopposed in the primaries Tuesday. Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, represents this district, covering the south side of Columbia. He is challenged by Republican Laura Nauser. Here’s a little more about each candidate:

Democratic Candidate: Chris Kelly

Rep. Chris Kelly is running for a second term. He previously served as a state representative from 1983 to 1994.

Kelly has also been an associate court judge for Boone County and chairman of the Missouri Labor and Industrial Relations Commission.

During his most recent House term, Kelly co-sponsored a bill establishing a commission on the death penalty, putting a moratorium on all executions until January 2013. He also co-sponsored a bill proposing for the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. He said he has had to work with members of both parties on those bills.

“I have demonstrated ability to work bipartisanly [sic],” he said. “I understand the legislative issues which are important to Boone County,” Kelly said.

Kelly, who has served on the budget committee for twelve years, also said the state budget will greatly impact Boone County in the coming years. He said the two things most important MU right now are funding for public education and economic development.

Kelly said a lot of people want more funding for education, but that the only way to do that is to increase taxes, and that he feels the tobacco tax should be the first to go up on that list.

“I will support more funding for the university and I will support (the) tobacco tax to get that done,” he said. “I understand that research is the heartbeat of a major state institution like the University of Missouri. Failure to fund a research component of the university is deadly both to the students and to the economy of the state.”

Kelly is a graduate of Marist College in upstate New York and has a law degree from MU, which he said probably gives him an advantage in understanding MU and Columbia. Kelly has been married for 36 years, and has two children and a grandson according to his website.

Republican Candidate: Laura Nauser

Laura Nauser, the Republican candidate in the 24th district race, represents Columbia’s Fifth Ward in the City Council and is mayor pro tem.

Nauser, like Kelly, said she feels the most important issue facing Missouri and the nation is the current economic situation. She said she wants to keep taxes low has gained first-hand experience from this economic situation from her husband’s experiences as a small business owner. Nauser said she feels the federal and state governments are both making job creation difficult.

“We have a federal government that is continuing to push mandates on states and citizens of the states. I’m concerned about that,” Nauser said. “I think that deters entrepreneurship. We need to have jobs and the private sector in my mind is the way to create economic prosperity. Governments do not create jobs.”

Nauser emphasized the importance of lowering taxes to help businesses and families recover from the economic downturn.

“The more burden we place on business owners in the private sector, the harder it is for them to look into the future,” Nauser said. “I just think people of our community and state are struggling to meet ends meet. Raising taxes would be a detriment to their families. It’s hard enough for families to make a living and pay their bills.”

She also said she wants to take a look at rising tuition costs and make sure the state’s public colleges are providing a quality education.

“In the past five and a half years I feel I understand the needs of much of my constituents in the Fifth Ward,” she said. “I have a voting record on the council on issues that are important to our community.”

Nauser called her campaign experience so far “fun” and said she looks forward to every day she gets to go door-to-door. She also said she thinks her experience at the local level will help get her elected to the state level.

Nauser said she looks at the budget as a way to tighten the belts of government.

“Government always seems to think that it perpetually should grow,” she said. “I think it’s good for government to have to go back at look at what its core functions are and provide those core services.”

Nauser is a graduate of Columbia College with a degree in political science and is married with two children.

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