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Some representatives don't plan to run for the House again

February 23, 2004
By: Sara Bondioli
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - As Missouri candidate filing opens Tuesday, some state representatives have decided they won't run again in the House.

Term limits will force 15 representatives out of the House. Others will leave by their own choice.

LOOKING BEYOND

A number of representatives will leave the House to run for other political offices. This is due at least partially to term limits, said Sam Hall, executive director of the House Democratic Campaign Committee.

He said term limits have forced politicians to "climb the political ladder faster."

Rep. Dan Ward, D-Bonne Terre, plans to run for an open state Senate seat. If he chose to serve another two-year House term he would have to wait four more years for another chance to run in the Senate.

Rep. Philip Willoughby, D-Gladstone, is running for an open state Senate seat. He said the decision is indirectly related to term limits since the seat would not be open without term limits. Willoughby said he would not have run against Sen. Ed Quick, D-Liberty, who currently holds the seat. Instead he would have run for another House term.

With term limits, few representatives will spend eight years in the house, said Willoughby.

"Other opportunities come up after four years or six years," he said.

Rep. Mark Hampton, D-Summersville, is forgoing another run in the House in order to take a job as a high school principal. Hampton's decision was based partially on term limits. After one more term in the House, Hampton would be kicked out and unemployed.

Because of his background in education, he has a good opportunity now for a job without term limits.

"If it wasn't for term limits, I would still enjoy continuing my service as a public servant," he said.

Hampton said term limits lead to most legislators always looking ahead for future opportunities because they know they must leave the legislature.

Other representatives are also pursuing new political offices.

FAMILY

Some representatives have decided legislative work is too difficult to juggle with other priorities.

Rep. Chris Shoemaker, R-Macon, said he isn't running again for two reasons: family and income.

"I have decided that being a state representative is so hard on a family that has children," he said.

Shoemaker said legislators can be gone seven days a week in an attempt to do their jobs. During the five month legislative session Shoemaker said he spends four or five nights a week away from home.

Often he attends legislative-related events on weekends. This has been hard on his wife and three children.

"If I was re-elected, I would probably have a separated family within three years," he said.

Rep. Jerry Bough, R-Nixa, said he would prefer to be home with his family rather than spend his time in Jefferson City.

Currently, he drives the 2 1/2 hours from his home to the Capitol every Monday morning when his wife leaves for work. If the Capitol were in Springfield, which is closer to his home, Bough said he would consider running for re-election.

INCOME

Shoemaker's other concern with running for the legislature again is income. With one son getting ready for college and another child doing so in a few years, Shoemaker said the $31,500 income of representatives wasn't enough.

The busy legislative work schedule was one of the reasons Shoemaker sold the business he had. He said it was hard to handle both jobs at once.

Rep. Bob Johnson, R-Jackson County, will file for his House seat again, but he knows the difficulty of balancing economic concerns with legislative work. Johnson works as a home builder year-round, but the nature of his job gives him less work during the winter.

With the time it takes to represent 35,000 people, earning extra money can be difficult, he said.