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Candidate Profile: Rep. Jason Kander

State representative, Afghanistan Veteran, running for Missouri Secretary of State

September 25, 2012

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. --  Jason Kander comes from a home you would expect to produce a Soldier. 

"My dad was a cop, and my mom was a juvenile probation officer," says Kander, flashing a proud smile.  "So we didn't get away with anything in our house at all."

Kander, who is 31 years old, has followed his parents' example of public service, as both a state representative in Jefferson City and as an Army officer.  Afghanistan, he says, taught him courage.

"When I came home and got involved in public service, I always tried to focus on trying to do what's right.  It's not really a problem once you've been overseas with the Army to stand up to political pressure, or your own party, or lobbyists, or special interests."

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Kander is now campaigning as the Democratic candidate for Secretary of State, Missouri's chief elections officer.  The current Secretary of State, Robin Carnahan, also a Democrat, has chosen not to run for re-election.

KY3 Political Reporter Jerry Jacob spoke with Kander at the KY3 Studios on September 25, 2012.  The following is a part of that conversation.

JJ:  Why are you running for the Secretary of State's office?

JK:  "I think it's very important that we have a Secretary of State that has a non-partisan approach and has the courage to stand up to do what's right regardless of who's on the other side.  And for me, whether it's serving with the Army in Afghanistan, or fighting for ethics reform in Jefferson City, it's just never been a problem for me.  I also think the chief elections officer for the state should be someone who is very focused on campaign reform and ethics reform, because I think that influences our elections either way, and that's been the issue I've worked very hard on in Jefferson City and I look forward to working very hard on as Secretary of State."

JJ:  You stress "non-partisanship."  Are you not a staunch Democrat?

JK:  I just think it's our responsibility in public service to focus on getting the job done and working with both sides.  That's what I've done in the legislature, passing budgets without raising taxes, passing the first real ethics reform in Missouri in 20 years by working with the other party.  I just think that's our responsibility.

JJ:  What to you think of the idea pushed by your Republican opponent Shane Schoeller of the "ballot commission?"

JK:  In the Army, when I was given a duty, I didn't pass it off to another Soldier.  I'm not sure why Shane Schoeller wants to pass this buck off to other politicians in Jefferson City.   It's the Hillary Clinton "It Takes a Village" approach to ballot language.  I think it takes a responsible person.   I don't think when you add more politicians to something it becomes less political.

JJ:  But if the commission is balanced between the parties, rather than one person of one or the other parties, doesn't that make it more likely the language will not be politically charged?

JK:  Shane Schoeller tends to think that every issue is partisan.  I don't think every issue is partisan.  I don't think the key is to say, "Okay, as long as you have an equal number of partisans..."  No.  You need one responsible person who can take a non-partisan approach to the office.  There's nothing Democrat or Republican about being a good chief elections officer, writing a ballot question in a way that's non-partisan and straightforward.  That's how I'm going to approach it.

JJ:  You are a relative unknown in much of the state.  What is it that you want Missourians to know about  you?

JK:  The main thing I want them to know is that I'm going to take a very non-partisan approach to the office.   And second, I think there's a big difference between Shane Schoeller and myself on the issues.  For example, military voting and absentee voting.  Shane filed a bill earlier this year that would have made it nearly impossible for military personnel overseas to vote.   If it hadn't been for an absentee ballot in 2006, I could not have participated in the Democracy I was there to help protect.  320 thousand Missourians voted that way in 2008 and almost 12 thousand of those were military personnel.  That's why I led a bi-partisan coalition to stop that bill. 

JJ:  What about voter I.D.?  Shane Schoeller is a very strong supporter of making a law that requires everyone who votes must show a Missouri photo I.D.

JK:  I have always supported a sensible photo i.d. requirement that doesn't disenfranchise eligible Missourians. 

JJ:  How do you do that?

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