Both candidates vying for the Missouri House of Representatives District 38 seat like to speak in bipartisan terms.
T. J. Berry, a Republican resident of unincorporated Clay County elected in 2010 to serve former House District 35, cites the Kansas City Caucus, a group he helped organize with former State Rep. (and current Jackson County prosecutor) Jean Peters Baker.
The caucus brings together state representatives from Jackson, Clay, Platte and Cass counties -- Republicans and Democrats -- to consider regional issues, Berry said. One major accomplishment, he added, was preventing the offices of the Missouri Housing Development Commission from moving from Kansas City to Jefferson City, keeping about 175 jobs from leaving the region.
"So many issues are not Republican or Democrat," Berry said. "If you talk about the problem it is amazing what you can accomplish."
Berry also believes that teachers should not be alone in being accountable for the success of public school education. "We need to create a mechanism to inject accountability with students and their parents," he said.
Berry is being challenged by Kevin Morgan a Democrat from Excelsior Springs.
Morgan is concerned about the possible elimination of historic preservation tax credits in Missouri. Legislators over the last two sessions have debated whether to "sunset" the credits as of 2016, Morgan said.
"This isn't a partisan issue," Morgan said. Members of both parties support the credits, he said, while others -- also of both parties -- wonder whether the program should be eliminated or reduced.
"It's a great program," Morgan said.
"It puts people to work, helps to redevelop blighted areas and generates more money for the state than it costs. I believe the credits should be examined on an individual basis, so that the credits that are productive would be kept and those that are not could be reconsidered."
As for public education financing, Morgan believes that the state "foundation formula" should be better funded. "It has been under-funded over the last three years by an average of about $42 million per year," Morgan said.
"This is an investment in our future."
District 38 covers much of Clay County, including portions of Liberty, Kearney and Excelsior Springs.