COLUMBIA — Most candidates in most elections have the luxury of knowing who their constituents will be, but in this election the answer is more elusive.
Early in December, the Missouri Appellate Apportion Committee created new state maps representative and senatorial district boundaries. Because the rearrangement of House and Senate districts came less than a year before the November general election, state legislators living in Boone County have their pick of which districts to run in, Secretary of State spokesman Ryan Hobart has said.
"Because everything has been redrawn, fundamentally anyone can run anywhere," Jonathan Sessions, a Columbia School Board member who is considering a run for a Missouri House seat, said. "It's going to have a dramatic effect."
Although the primaries won't take place until August, several candidates already have declared their intentions.
Democratic Rep. Mary Still, who currently represents Columbia in the 25th district, will challenge Republican incumbent Kurt Schaefer for the 19th District Senate seat. That district, which now includes parts of Boone and Randolph counties, will comprise Boone and Howard counties after the November election.
According to an earlier Missourian report, both Still and Schaefer have visited Howard County in anticipation of the redrawn district maps. They are the only two candidates who have announced their intention to seek the seat.
Democrat Stephen Webber, who represents Columbia in the 23rd District in the Missouri House, has said he will seek another term in the House, this time in the new 46th District, which includes his home address.
Democratic Rep. Chris Kelly represents the 24th District. A majority of that district, however, will be included in the 50th District under the new map along with sections of Boone, Cole, Cooper and Moniteau counties. Last week, Kelly announced he will run for election in the 45th District.
Kelly doesn't live in the 45th District but said that the chance to represent the core of Columbia is attractive and that advocating for higher education is a priority.
If Kelly is elected to the seat, he will have to move to District 45 and establish at least a one-year residency if he wants to run for re-election in 2014. The same is true for any candidate who runs in a district where he or she doesn't presently live.
To date, no one has announced a bid for the 44th or 47th district House seats. Sessions, a Democrat, said while he initially considered running in the 45th, he supports Kelly's campaign and wants him to remain in the legislature.
Sessions said he is drawn to political office because it offers an opportunity to support education. "I definitely feel among many other things, it's being under-supported and under-appreciated by the state legislature," Sessions said.
Still, Sessions said he has made no decision about whether to run or which seat to pursue, but he is "seeing the lay of the land."
Rob Monsees, who served as chief of staff for former Republican Gov. Matt Blunt, said while he has been approached about running for a House seat, he's not particularly interested.
"I'm interested in public service," Monsees said. "But I'm not sure that this is the right time."
Monsees said that if he were to run, it would be in the 47th District, which includes much of western Columbia and parts of western Boone County and eastern Howard County.
Republican Laura Nauser, a former Fifth Ward Columbia councilwoman and two-time mayor pro tem, said she has no plans to run. Nauser, who lost to Kelly in her bid for the 24th District seat in 2010, said she invested a lot of time and effort in that campaign and that it would be difficult to set aside her job and do it again.
Nauser said she looks forward to seeing who will run.
"It'll be different because the redistricting has changed the dynamic of a lot of the area," Nauser said.