Ken Duvall, a Lee’s Summit attorney, announced this week that he will be a candidate for Missouri’s 35th District in the General Assembly.
Republican Gary Cross of Lee’s Summit now holds that House seat.
Duvall, a Democrat, on Jan. 8 said he was motivated to run because partisan conflicts are keeping the state from moving forward.
“When we have this type of gridlock, government is not getting done what it should be getting done, that’s what we have happening in Jefferson City,” Duvall said. “I want to see government work effectively.”
Duvall said he would be a practical representative who listens to people in his district, instead of party bosses.
He said he would vote to expand Medicaid – a position endorsed by the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce – and would oppose tax cuts proposed by Republicans, which could threaten school finance. He said supporting Lee’s Summit schools is a priority and he would listen to advice of local officials like Superintendent of Schools David McGehee.
He said the tax cuts proposed last year (and being recycled this year) would have “real world” effects that would be detrimental to the district.
Medicaid expansion would be good for low-income Missourians who need healthcare, and hospitals and their employees, creating jobs, he said.
He said he’s in favor of campaign finance and ethics reforms, with Missouri needing to tighten its regulations.
He said he would opppose unenforceable laws that would be unconstitutional and a waste time and taxpayers money, such as proposals to make it illegal for the federal government to enforce its gun laws in the state.
Duvall said his experience as a law clerk and a lawyer defending businesses from frivolous lawsuits gives him insight that would help him craft better legislation.
He said in 2014 leading up to the election he’d be visiting many residents homes to talk with them and learn their concerns.
He said he would spend a lot of time listening to constituents and local officials before making up his mind on issues.
“I’m not always the smartest guy in the room,” Duvall said. “As a candidate, I want to a representative of their values and concerns.”
He said he became interested in studying law because an older brother is a lawyer and he thought the profession allows him to provide public service.
He’s been at the law firm of Berkowitz Oliver since 2012. His undergraduate school was Saint Louis University and he graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law in 2010, where he also was an editor of the Virginia Journal of International Law. On graduation he was awarded the Order of the Coif, an honor society for law students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their class.
As a law clerk for Judge Alok Ahuja, on the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District (who was appointed by Republican Gov. Matt Blunt), he worked daily with laws passed by the General Assembly, such as workers compensation and the Missouri Human Rights Act.
“It’s really given me some experience I can use as a representative,” Duvall said.
Duvall said that while trying to decide where he’d like to live in the Kansas City area, Ahuja told him about Lee’s Summit schools, where his children had attended.
Duvall and his wife Kelly were convinced and moved to a home near Lee’s Summit North High School.
He said he believes he can be a successful candidate, although Lee’s Summit frequently elects Republicans.
“The labels aren’t as important, it’s a practical community, a hard-working community that expects a hard-working representative who will be practical,” Duvall said. “They’re ready for somebody who is going to get things done for them.”