Northland representatives vie for state Senate seat

Posted at 1:50 PM, May 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-31 17:46:49-04

CLAY COUNTY, Mo. — On June 5, voters in the Northland will head to the polls to pick their new state senator. 

The seat was left vacant in January of this year, when Ryan Silvey was appointed to the Missouri Public Service Commission.

Rep. Lauren Arthur (D-Kansas City) and Rep. Kevin Corlew (R-Kansas City), who have both been in office since 2014, are vying for the seat. 

While the Clay County Election Board expects just a 10 to 12 percent voter turnout rate, that has not slowed the flow of money into the race, nor the intensity of the campaigns.

The Issues

Education, especially school funding, is a focal point for the two campaigns.

Arthur grew up in the Northland and returned as a middle school teacher. She now serves as Regional Director for Urban Leaders Fellowship, a policy program for professionals looking to accelerate their leadership skills.

"I don't want kids in the Northland to miss out on a day of school because Jefferson City politicians won't do their job," Arthur said.

Corlew is an attorney who specializes in business litigation, but he also served on the Board of Education for North Kansas City Schools. He, too, spoke about the importance of funding schools and also touted the success of the Northland CAPS program, which immerses students in the business community.

"I want to continue to make sure the Northland students have extraordinary experiences, and I'll continue to work on those issues," he said.

Corlew has heavy backing from the business community, including an endorsement from the Missouri Chamber of Commerce. 

"They've noticed the work that I've done to make sure we have a vibrant community, one that allows businesses to grow and hire Northland workers, one that allows businesses to do their job without overregulation and red tape," he said.

For opponent Arthur, the transparency in state government is of great importance. Arthur points out that since being elected, she has sponsored ethics reform legislation every year. That includes a bill that would require disclosure of 501(c)(4)s, so-called "Dark Money" groups.

"I've seen down in Jefferson City that often the interests of billionaires and corporations get put ahead of the interests of everyone back home, and so we need a strong voice who's going to fight for the people back home," Arthur said.

The Money

To get their messages across, both candidates have been busy knocking on doors and fundraising for the special election.

Campaign finance filings show Arthur has raised around $360,000, while Corlew came up with about $120,000. 

Much of that money has shown up on television. In ads targeting Corlew, the Arthur camp focuses on the soon-to-be former governor.

"Jefferson City is corrupt, and politicians like Eric Greitens and Kevin Corlew are the problem," a narrator says in the commercial.

Rep. Corlew fought back against the characterization in the ad.

"I was one of the first Republicans to call for the resignation of Governor Greitens when these allegations were found to be credible against him," he said. 

The Corlew campaign itself has not paid for negative ads against Arthur, but a PAC called the Missouri Senate Campaign Committee is airing an attack that references a recent murder in the Northland. 

"An illegal immigrant confesses. Votes have consequences. Liberal Lauren Arthur says she's disgusted by those who don't share her political views. What's really disgusting is Arthur voting to give our tax dollars to immigrants, like a big welcome sign to illegal entry," the ad says. 

"It's dishonest. It's a lie, and aside from that, I think it is totally unacceptable that he would exploit a situation where someone was murdered for political gain," she said. 

Corlew told 41 Action News he does not condone the commercial.