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Columbia Missourian

Candidates file to represent Boone County in the Missouri House

By Amy Willsey
March 1, 2012 | 9:48 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — A total of eight candidates have filed for seats in the Missouri House that represent parts of Columbia or Boone County.

Filing for the positions opened on Tuesday and continues through March 27.

Districts location and population

44th: Population 35,968; includes Columbia’s Third Ward and northeastern Boone County, including the towns of Hallsville, Centralia and Sturgeon.

45th: Population 35,636; includes downtown Columbia, the city's four higher education institutions as well as four of the city's hospitals.

46th: Population 36,530; southwestern Boone County.

47th: Population 35,390; includes parts of Boone, Cooper, Howard and Randolph counties as well as sections of north and northwest Columbia.


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Thus far, there are four candidates in the 44th District, one each in the 45th and 46th districts and two in the 47th District. Here's a look at who's in the running.

44th District

With a record deal but no political background, Caleb Rowden is one of three Republican candidates running for state representative in the 44th District. 

Rowden, 29, attended MU for one year before signing with a recording company and becoming a well-known singer and songwriter. Rowden thinks his lack of experience in the political world will ultimately benefit him.

"I don't have a lot of political baggage," Rowden said. "I'm not interested in political party gain, and I'll make the decision on what's best." 

Rowden lives in the 44th District and wants to represent it because he believes its residents' values reflect those of Missouri as a whole. He hopes to find a balance between city and rural areas and put together laws that will help everybody. 

Rowden said he would like to figure out a way to get the economy going again. He said he would strive to create a sense of certainty among business owners that would allow them to have faith in their government again.

"I believe decisions and opportunities are in the hands of citizens, and we (the government) will create the stability for people of Missouri," Rowden said. 

Ken Jacob, 63, served seven terms in the Missouri House, from 1983 to 1996, before getting elected to the state Senate in 1996. In 2004, he was term-limited out of the Senate, and he hasn't held political office since. He did make an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination for the 9th District congressional seat in 2008. He is a Columbia attorney.

On Tuesday, Jacob filed as a candidate for the 44th District House seat. He could not be reached for comment. 

A previous Boone County Libertarian Central Committee member, Chris Dwyer also filed his candidacy for the 44th District seat.

In 2008, Dwyer ran unsuccessfully as a Libertarian in the general election for 19th District state Senate seat now held by Republican Kurt Schaefer.

Dwyer owns property in both Districts 44 and 47, but he chose to run for the House district where he lives.

Dwyer, a livestock farmer, landlord and real estate investor, also works part time at three McDonald's restaurants. He said he is looking forward to bringing his life experiences into the House. 

"From being poor to somewhat wealthy, employee to small-business owner, living in county and the city, being a civilian to being in the military, I will draw on those experiences," Dwyer said. "I've been on both sides of several different coins." 

Mike Becker was a candidate for the House in 2010 for the 21st District. His top issues while running then were opposing higher taxes on businesses, plans to increase successful businesses and to raise the moral and ethical standards for government officials. Becker could not be reached for comment. 

45th District

Democrat Chris Kelly announced he would run for state representative in the 45th District on Dec. 10. He has represented the 24th District since 2008 and, before that,  he served in the House from 1983 to 1994. He also served as Boone County clerk, chairman of the Labor and Industrial Relations Board and as a Boone County associate circuit judge. 

46th District

Democrat Steven Webber filed for his third term representing Columbia in the House of Representatives on Tuesday. He currently represents the 23rd District but because of redistricting, he is running for state representative in the 46th District. Webber is a law student at MU and served two tours of duty in Iraq as a Marine infantryman. 

47th District

John Wright, a Columbia native, Yale graduate, small-business owner and MU professor, said he hopes to represent the 47th District. 

Wright says education is a priority. 

"I'm very passionate about education," Wright, 35, said. "Strong schools make for a strong community." 

Wright grew up in Columbia and graduated from Hickman High School. He will be teaching a course in the Trulaske College of Buiness at MU during the fall semester. 

Wright's platform addresses literacy in early childhood education, mainly funneling his efforts into Grant Elementary School. 

"If you can help kids gain confidence to read and comprehend material, there is a better chance to be successful later in life," Wright said. 

Sound economic policy to attract businesses to Columbia is another priority for Wright. He said he wants to push to create a level playing field for all businesses along with clear rules and regulations. 

Being a business owner himself, Wright said he learned a lot about different conditions that can create hurdles for business owners. He started Rollins Capital Partners, an investment firm, in New York but brought it to Rocheport a couple of years ago. 

Wright said the 47th District seat would be a good fit for him. "It's a great district because it's a cross section of Missouri. We will be able to push forward sound education policy for state as a whole." 

Democrat Nancy Copenhaver announced on Feb. 14 that she will seek the 47th District seat. A former state representative in the 22nd District, she also served on the Moberly City Council and the Moberly Planning and Zoning Commission. She previously said sound budgeting and education will be among her priorities if elected to the House again.

The primary election will be Aug. 7, and the general election will be Nov. 6.