Someone to Watch - The Missourian: Opinion

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Posted: Friday, October 18, 2013 6:30 pm

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander believes in open government. He made that clear in his remarks in Washington Thursday.

Speaking at the Missouri Photojournalism Hall of Fame Induction ceremony, Kander said that one of his major goals as secretary of state is to make government more transparent and accessible. That includes more access to the Missouri Legislature for the public and journalists.  

Earlier this year Kander’s office launched The Missouri Channel, a website that allows Missourians to hear archived audio files of floor debates from the Missouri House of Representatives and the Missouri Senate.

Before this project, citizens could only listen to legislative debate on their computers live when the respective chambers were in session, not at their convenience.

Kander, who serves as the state’s chief record keeper, said that the new site has an added advantage of fostering civility among lawmakers due to the fact their comments on the floor were being recorded and could easily be retrieved by the public. He cited an example of a lawmaker apologizing to another after downloading his comments from the site and realizing he was out of line in a floor debate.

The website is a good idea — we support any initiative  that leads to more collegiality and accountability among our elected officials.

After hearing him speak, it’s clear the lawyer and former Army captain and veteran of Afghanistan has a lot of good ideas. It was the first time many in the audience had heard Kander speak and people came away impressed with his poise and affable nature.

Kander, at age 32, is the youngest statewide elected official in the country. Despite his youth and relative inexperience, he is making a name for himself in state government by being one of the clearest voices for ethics reform, arguing for limits on political donations and less influence by lobbyists. He has chastised the Missouri House for holding controversial public hearings early in the morning to avoid public participation.

Kander won a lot of new fans a few months back when he publicly rebuffed Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s job poaching tour of Missouri.

Kander’s positions on open and honest government are a breath of fresh air in an era of state government that is hazy from too much money, inside dealing and influence peddling.

/opinion