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Former state Sen. Betty Sims named by Nixon to higher-education board

Former state Sen. Betty Sims, R-Ladue, has been named by Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, to the state's Coordinating Board for Higher Education.

Sims held the 24th District state Senate post from 1995-2003, when she had to step down because of term limits. She was succeeded by Democrat Joan Bray, who also is leaving after this year because of term limits. (The 24th District has the region's only competitive state Senate this fall, between Democrat Barbara Fraser and Republican John Lamping.)

During her eight years in the Senate, Sims was known for her focus on public health and education. As the governor's office notes, "At various times as a senator, she was the Assistant (GOP) Floor Leader; chair of the Aging, Families and Mental Health Committee; and vice-chair of the Committee on Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence."

Sims also was a political moderate, which made her a target of social-conservative groups -- notably Missouri Right to Life -- who made a particular effort to oust Sims in the 1998 GOP primary. She survived, in part, because Democrats in the district openly crossed over and voted for Sims.

Sims recently retired as a project specialist with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Her new post on the higher-education board runs until June 27, 2016. She also needs to be confirmed by the state Senate.

As Nixon's office explains:

"The Coordinating Board of Higher Education coordinates the state system of higher education, which includes 13 public four-year colleges and universities, 17 public two-year community colleges, one public two-year technical college, 25 independent colleges and universities, 120 proprietary schools and 39 specialized independent schools and colleges and theological institutions."

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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