JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Photos of Senator Will Kraus’s wife, Carmen, and their two sons, Tyler and Tannor, fill the walls of Kraus’ office, along with military memorabilia from service in the Army.
Kraus was attracted to the Army during high school, but he knew he wanted to go to college. His leadership began 18 years ago, right after high school. He served two years active duty and then used his army college fund at Central Missouri University to complete his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a minor in Military Science, graduating Summa Cum Laude. He still continued to serve in the Army National Guard throughout college. Teamwork and leadership are two main skills he learned in the military, and he has carried those values over to his work in the General Assembly.
“You might be in charge of a group of soldiers, but if they don’t follow you, you aren’t going to accomplish your mission,” said Kraus. “Here in the legislature, you are a leader on your bill, but you have to convince people on the way to go with you, and then if you have more people supporting your bill you can have more people promoting that bill through the process.”
Kraus served as a state representative from 2004-2010, and then was elected as a state senator in 2010. He feels especially qualified to handle public safety and emergencies due to his military background. He described himself as a unique high school student that had a strong interest in government affairs. Former Senator Matt Bartle urged Kraus to run for office, but ultimately it was his family that helped him make the decision.
“I looked at my representative and decided he wasn’t representing my views and my values, so I decided to step into that role,” said Kraus.
Kraus’s biggest accomplishment is graduating from flight school as Chinook Helicopter Pilot in 1999. The program takes over a year and involves a rigorous schedule including daily physical fitness training, class, and Flight Line. He served as Air Mission Commander in Iraq, and was in charge of missions involving multiple aircrafts as well as hundreds of soldiers’ lives.
Colin Powell, a retired, four-star general in the United States Army is one of Kraus’ role models. Kraus lives by Powell’s 13 rules of leadership. His favorite rule being, “Don’t hold your position too close because it could be taken from you.” This influenced his life in the General Assembly.
“If you came down here and you thought, ‘oh, I’m a powerful senator,’ you could get all consumed with that, and it could change who you are as a person,” said Kraus. “I really didn’t want that to happen.”
He explained the difficulty of being away from his family while he was deployed for 15 months first in Fort Lewis, Washington, and then in Iraq. Kraus struggled specifically with integrating back into his family. He has been married to Carmen for 22 years, and does not make any decisions without her.
Kraus and Carmen are both heavily involved in the community. He is a part of several organizations including Lee’s Summit American Legion, Raytown Crossroads Chamber of Commerce, Raytown South Middle Parent Teacher Student Association and Raytown Veterans of Foreign Wars.
“Most military individuals are service-minded,” said Kraus. “When you are not in the military, you are in a community, so you get involved in that community whether that be coaching, reading to kids or cleaning gutters out for senior citizens.”
Kraus plans to run for Secretary of State against current Secretary of State, Jason Kander, in 2016.
“It’s a big state and it’s a big challenge,” said Kraus. “But I have taken on big challenges before, and I’m eager to do it again.”
His goals, if elected, will focus on growing businesses in Missouri and securing elections. He wants to make sure everyone has the right to vote, and that no one is cheating the system. He says will do his best to make Missouri more business-friendly and cut down the amount of paperwork businesses have to do.
“What can we do to try to reduce the burden on businesses so they can spend more time and focus on doing what their business does,” asks Kraus. “If we can do that, businesses are going to be more successful and in turn we’ll grow and create more jobs.”
Kraus has received a number of awards including VFW Legislator of the Year, the Locke and Smith award for most constitutional senator, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce’s Spirit of Enterprise Award, and many more. He is currently still a member of the Missouri National Guard.
“I think being in the National Guard and being in the Missouri senate is a unique position. It gives me a unique perspective,” said Kraus. “I look at things like Ferguson different.”