The Jackson County primary election on Aug. 2 will ask voters to select each party’s candidates for the Jackson County Legislature. While six of the nine legislators are elected by voters of smaller districts, three at-large legislators, including the 1st At-Large District, are elected by the entire county.
In the coming days, The Beacon will introduce many of the races and candidates for the legislature, which oversees spending and makes crucial decisions about tax assessments, jail operations and other functions of Missouri’s second most populous county. All nine of its members are up for election in 2022.
The current legislator representing the 1st At-Large District is Jalen Anderson, who is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. He will automatically proceed to the general election on Nov. 8. On the Republican side, two candidates are on the primary ballot.
Although they are elected by voters countywide, candidates must live in the 1st At-Large District, which includes Independence, Blue Springs and the northeastern corner of the county.
The two Republican candidates are:
- Bill E. Kidd, a current Missouri state representative from Buckner
- Brenda Allen, a musician and former teacher from Independence. Allen originally filed as a Democrat but was disqualified from that primary following objections from the Jackson County Democratic Committee.
The Beacon sent both candidates a list of five questions about what they hope to accomplish as the 1st At-Large District legislator.
Responses have been edited for clarity, length and Associated Press style.
Click on a question to jump ahead:
- What new perspectives will you bring to the legislature?
- What will be the most important factors for you when making yearly budget decisions?
- How will you make yourself available to your constituents throughout your term?
- If elected, what are two or three specific things you plan to recommend to improve the county government?
- How has the legislature been successful in the past, and how do you think it can improve?
What new perspectives will you bring to the legislature?
Kidd: I bring the perspective of age and experience, with a background in financial planning and investments.
Allen: I will bring a mindset of being a servant for the constituents, to be a caretaker and steward over their constitutional rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as set forth in the Constitution. Making sure that their tax dollars are legally and carefully used for the function of government is essential.
What will be the most important factors for you when making yearly budget decisions?
Kidd: I always remember that there is no such a thing as “government money.” Times are tough, inflation is running rampant, and we can’t keep going back to the taxpayer asking for more money. Just like a struggling family, we need to make a plan and stick to it and diligently watch where each dollar is spent. Government can’t keep raising taxes.
Allen: The most important factors when making yearly budget decisions include doing what I can to reform the assessment and spending areas within my control. I will work to budget for ongoing maintenance for assets that Jackson County owns to avoid crisis-mode responses. Upholding constitutional law in carrying out the duties of the Jackson County Legislature will be top priority.
How will you make yourself available to your constituents throughout your term?
Kidd: Just like my current term as state representative, I will be involved in community activities and issues. My office is always instructed to return phone calls promptly and courteously.
Allen: My phone number, email address and website will be available to constituents to contact me.
If elected, what are two or three specific things you plan to recommend to improve the county government?
Kidd: I would work to increase the online availability of information and automation. Open meetings, town halls and transparency in government, because people have a right to be seen, heard and hold elected officials accountable.
Allen: I plan to recommend reducing costs of the county by reining in spending. Contracts that are illegal have wasted taxpayer money and put the county in jeopardy of being sued and they presently need to be addressed and prevented in the future. The state auditor revealed that the Jackson County property taxes were 70% higher than any other county in Missouri. Spending wisely for the constitutional function of government is a priority to reduce the taxpayers’ burden, encourage economic development and attract and retain residents. Also, cleaning up corruption in contracts and the court to decrease crime are important.
How has the legislature been successful in the past, and how do you think it can improve?
Kidd: I believe it’s been a long time since the people of Jackson County have been proud of their county government. I would improve how the people’s money is spent. If you can’t fix the simple things like potholes, how are you going to fix the complicated issues?
Allen: The Jackson County Legislature’s work with the sheriff’s department has had some success in the past. The legislature’s further partnership with the sheriff’s department to ensure that officers have the training and resources needed to protect themselves and the public with accountability is an important area of improvement in reducing crime.