The Missouri Times is visiting lawmakers across the state to bring you an insider’s look at the district and the legislator. This article is just one in our brand new series, Show Me Districts.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Coffee and rock music followed by Wonders of Wildlife is how Elijah Haahr would start off a tour of his legislative district. The Republican Speaker of the Missouri House would then follow those two stops with lunch at a burger joint owned by a vegetarian.
“It is just a very unique district,” Haahr told The Missouri Times over lunch at Black Sheep Burgers and Shakes.
Unlike most other districts, HD 134 is without communities of cohesion, as Haahr calls them. The Chamber of Commerce is not in the district, the parade in Springfield does not go through it, there are no country clubs, and the only public high school is shared with another district.
All of those things make meeting voters and constituents tougher for the representative.
“I have to go to the door. I have to go to their doorstep and talk to them about what it going on,” Haahr said.
A lawyer by trade, Haahr was first elected to represent his community in 2012. He is partway through his final two-year term in the Missouri House, having won re-election in 2014, 2016, and 2018.
The district is one of six within Springfield and one of eight within Greene County. All the seats are held by Republicans, except for HD 132 which is represented by House Minority Leader Crystal Quade.
“[Folks] in my district, they get up and go to work, they raise children and the worst thing we can do [as the government] is ruin their lives,” said Haahr.
He noted some issues that are important in rural or urban communities are not as prevalent for those in his district. One of the issues that drew the most concern from the people he represents was during the REAL ID debate.
Many individuals wanted to be able to go on vacation or get on a plane and visit someone, Haahr said.
The uniqueness of the district is just one reason the Republican lawmaker has decided to raise his family there.
The neighborhood the Haahr family lives in has one way to get in and out with no pass-through traffic.
“It is a really great neighborhood,” said Haahr. “My kids can play in the street, and I don’t have to worry about cars.”
There are also a lot of attractions in and around the area.
Classic Rock Coffee, Bass Pro Shops’ national headquarters, Black Sheep Burgers and Shakes, and Southbound dive bar are just a few of the must-sees.
Haahr may not be the biggest outdoor fan but called Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium “amazing” and the “number one attraction in the United States of America.” The not-for-profit educational conservation-themed attraction is located adjacent to the Bass Pro Shops’ national headquarters and is named for the Bass Pro Shops’ founder.
“There is a lot to do in the district, but one of the good things about being a suburban district is there is so much around the district,” Haahr said.
Alisha Shurr was a reporter for The Missouri Times and The Missouri Times Magazine. She joined The Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University.