Smith beat out two other Democratic candidates to vie for HD 45. Kendrick, also a Democrat, recently left his seat to serve as chief of staff to Sen. Greg Razer.
After the three candidates participated in a virtual town hall last week, the Democratic Legislative Committee for HD 45 officially tapped Smith as its candidate in the special election on Wednesday — the same day as President Joe Biden’s inauguration. The committee said Smith was chosen by a majority of its members.
“It was an exciting day for Democrats and myself,” Smith told The Missouri Times. “The Democratic committee did a rigorous job of vetting the candidates.”
If elected, Smith would be the first Black representative to serve Columbia or a district outside of Kansas City or St. Louis in the House, he said.
“That would be an honor and a responsibility I don’t take lightly,” Smith said. “I grew up in Columbia. It’s great to be able to represent everyone here. If you’re a person of color, it means a lot to other people of color to see that [representation].”
Kendrick said he’s reached out to Smith already to offer congratulations and support in the special election.
“I truly appreciate the committee’s work. David Tyson Smith will be an excellent representative for the 45th district,” Kendrick told The Missouri Times.
Smith is an attorney who practices personal injury and criminal defense cases through his firm, Smith & Parnell LLC. He’s fought for criminal justice reform and led the effort for Columbia’s Citizen Police Review Board. Additionally, he’s served on the board for the Ragtag Cinema, an independent film theater in Columbia.
Smith said his biggest priority is “getting a handle on” the COVID-19 pandemic and the stress it has placed on Columbia’s health care system. He also would focus on protecting public schools and funding Medicaid expansion if elected to the House.
Scott Cristal and Caleb Hall had also thrown their hat in the ring for the nomination.
“We were presented with three really strong candidates to choose from, and no matter who we picked, we know that person would represent the district well,” Ward 2 Committeewoman Karen Sicheneder said. “We all took very careful consideration of each candidate, interviewed each candidate, and spoke with people all over the district before making our final vote.”
“On this historic day where Kamala Harris became not only the first woman, but the first woman of color to be inaugurated as the vice president of the U.S., and a day that saw white supremacy and the rise of racism denounced from the inaugural podium, then I feel like now is the time for us as a party to put our Black Lives Matter signs where our mouths are and elect David Tyson Smith as our next state representative,” Chimene Schwach, the Ward 4 committeewoman, said. “If we are an anti-racist organization actively working toward dismantling white supremacy, this is a step in the right direction.”
The special election has been scheduled for April 6.
Cameron Gerber and Conner Kerrigan contributed to this report.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.