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Rep. David Tyson Smith On His Crash Course Into Missouri Legislative Life

 State Rep. David Tyson Smith, D-Columbia, takes his oath of office earlier this year in the Missouri House chambers.
Tim Bommel
House Communications
State Rep. David Tyson Smith, D-Columbia, takes his oath of office earlier this year in the Missouri House chambers.

The Missouri House’s newest member, state Rep. David Tyson Smith, is the latest guest on Politically Speaking. The Columbia Democrat talked with St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum about his legislative debut.

Smith represents the 45th District, which takes in a large chunk of Columbia — including most of the University of Missouri campus. He won a special election to succeed Kip Kendrick, who resigned to become Sen. Greg Razer’s chief of staff.

Here’s what Smith talked about on the program:

  • Why he decided to run for the seat, and what it means to be the first Black person to represent Columbia in the House.
  • His goals for the next few years, assuming he gets reelected to the solidly Democratic seat. They include overhauling the state’s criminal justice system and expanding affordable housing throughout the state.
  • His take on some of the hot-button issues that transpired after he was sworn into office, including the GOP-controlled legislature’s decision not to fund Medicaid expansion. The Missouri Supreme Court will be taking up that case next week.
  • A preview of the upcoming special session on congressional redistricting, including whether Democrats can influence a process in which Republicans have all the leverage.

Smith is a Columbia native who graduated from the University of Missouri there. He received his law degree from Tulane University, then stayed in Louisiana for five years to work on litigation against tobacco companies.

He came back to Columbia about 20 years ago and eventually started the Smith and Parnell law firm, which specializes in personal injury, criminal defense, and family and divorce cases.

When Kendrick announced his resignation soon after being elected to his final term, Smith was one of several Democrats who sought the nomination. Democratic committee members ended up choosing Smith over two other candidates, and he easily won a special election against a Libertarian candidate.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow David Tyson Smith on Twitter: @dts4mo

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.

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