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Five questions with Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia


1. What was your first campaign experience?

I sought to be named County Clerk in 1977 when there was a vacancy in Boone County. I had to convince members of the Democratic committee to support me instead of the incumbent, Carol Latham. Her family had been in the County for six generations and I had been there for five years. It was hard to get their support, but I did. I was elected the next year to the position.

Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia
Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia

2. In what ways have you made a tangible effect on your constituents’ lives during the past legislative session?

The most important think I did for my constituents was to help to beat some bills. I think it’s more important to beat legislation than to pass legislation.

The thing I passed that was good was the domestic violence changes in the House; that was positive. I did stop a CAFO bill, but I don’t know if that was good for my constituents specifically but it was bad government. We also killed a bill that would have destroyed renewable energy goals, and that was good. The capitol improvement stuff that we passed was also very good. That matters in my district for sure.

The biggest thing in the session, statewide and very much to my district, was the failure of Medicaid expansion, and it will end up costing my district $40 million.

3. Who from the opposing party do you most respect? And your own party?

From the opposing party I think they are two people, one is Lincoln Hough and one is Jay Barnes. I worked with Lincoln this last session as my Vice Chair and he’s very smart and committed to his job, and I feel the same way about Jay Barnes. I care much more about the work than the philosophy. They are two people who care and work very, very hard.

From my own party — Gail McCann Beatty, without any question. She was incredibly courageous this last session to stand up to [Majority Floor Leader John] Diehl over the bond issue regarding minority set-asides. She got that changed. A lot of people wanted it done, and it was because of Gail’s courage that it happened.

4. What was your dream job growing up?

Probably to be a NBA point guard. It takes so much skill to be a NBA point guard, but of course I could never be a NBA point guard.

5. What do you most enjoy about the interim?

Right now my wife and I are packing for a big canoe trip for Alaska. We’re going to go into the back country and canoe and see some critters.