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Columbia Missourian

Teresa Hensley seeks 'across the aisle' solutions for 4th Congressional District

By Trevor McDonald
October 15, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT
Teresa Hensley, a candidate for Missouri's 4th Congressional District seat, held a senior forum Wednesday at Oak Towers to discuss Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Healthcare Act.

COLUMBIA — In her bid to become the U.S. representative for Missouri's 4th Congressional District, Democrat Teresa Hensley says she seeks to fix a "broken" Congress by working across partisan lines.

She believes her career as Cass County prosecutor has readied her for that approach.

Read about all the candidates

Teresa Hensley, a Lake Winnebago Democrat, is one of four candidates running to represent Missouri's 4th Congressional District. She faces Libertarian Thomas Holbrook, incumbent Republican incumbent Vicky Hartzler and Constitution Party candidate Gary Cowan. Cowan did not respond to numerous attempts by the Missourian to reach him.

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Hensley, of Lake Winnebago, is challenging incumbent Republican Vicky Hartzler, who in 2010 unseated Democrat Ike Skelton after his 33-year run. Also running for the 4th District seat are Libertarian Thomas Holbrook and Constitution Party candidate Greg Cowan.

Before she became Cass County prosecutor in 2005, Hensley taught criminal law at William Jewell College. She said she is proud of her office's conviction record and of the organizations and task forces she helped create. 

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster presented her with the Domestic Violence Prevention Award in 2010. She is a member of the Domestic Violence Coalition and is on the board for Hope Haven of Cass County, the local abuse shelter.

Hensley said the Child Abuse Response Team, which began in Cass County in 2005, is one example of her ability to bring different groups together to address societal problems. The team consists of groups such as the Child Protection Center, the 17th Judicial Circuit's Juvenile Court, Children's Mercy Hospital and area law enforcement agencies. She said the number of convictions for child abuse has risen as a result.

Emphasizing a desire to look past partisan divisions that she believes are responsible for the impasse in Congress, Hensley says such barriers are absent from the Cass County Prosecutor's Office.

"We don't make decisions by politics whatsoever," Hensley said. 

Hensley said she has worked successfully with Democrats and Republicans on tasks such as establishing annual county budgets.

"As a Democrat, if a Republican has a good idea, I'm happy to listen to that," Hensley said.

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's proposed budget, however, is not an example of a good idea, Hensley told supporters during a recent visit to Fayette. "When they go out in public, they ought to be ashamed about this mean-spirited budget."

"This election is about the people we love," Hensley said, adding that education is a key concern. "The Paul Ryan budget would do away with student loans."

Hensley said she has been involved in politics since college. She studied at William Jewell College, earning a bachelor of arts degree in history. She also earned a juris doctorate from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law. 

Today, Hensley lives in Lake Winnebago with Kenny Hensley, her husband of 33 years. They have a 30-year-old son, and Hensley's parents still live in Raymore.

Hensley's campaign has made several stops in and around Boone County, including a seniors forum at Columbia's Oak Towers in late September, and stops in Boonville, Versailles and Fayette. She plans to attend the MU Homecoming parade in Columbia on Oct. 27.

"I'm having the time of my life. This is a wonderful district, and the folks have been so good to us," Hensley said about her campaign stops. "We think we have a good chance to win. We have been working hard, and we will continue to work hard."

Supporters are enthusiastic about Hensley's ideas and policies.

"I think Teresa Hensley is the future of Missouri," said Janice Faaborg, who was recently elected to represent the Katy Township on the Boone County Democratic Central Committee.

Faaborg particularly likes the fact that Hensley isn't an extremist. "I want to go see someone I can communicate with and share ideals with."

Fellow supporter Sue Tillema echoed those sentiments.

"I am very impressed with her professionalism and her grasp of issues that are important to the common person," Tillema said.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.