A Conversation with Secretary of State Kander
As the son of a policeman and juvenile probation officer, Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander learned early on the meaning of public service. Motivated by the events on Sept. 11, 2001, he enlisted in the Army National Guard. He continued to heed the call as a member of the Missouri House of Representatives in 2008.
Kander, the youngest statewide elected official in the United States, recently brought that message to SLU LAW students as he discussed public service and issues of importance for the Office of the Secretary of State.
While working as a military intelligence officer in Afghanistan, Kander saw firsthand what it meant to display political courage. On one particular mission with special operations forces and the Afghan army, Kander escorted a newly elected Afghani parliament member from the capital back to her home. The reason for the protection? She received death threats for the simple fact that she was a woman.
“We talk all the time in this country about this idea of political courage,” he said. “But I have actually seen with my own eyes a politician who had to have true courage just to get up and go to work. Whether you’re considering public service or not, just by entering the practice of law you’re going to be involved in how the world works and what happens in your community. That’s the message I took from that mission: it’s worth getting it right and trying to be fair.”
Kander also encouraged students to make the tough choices. “Because the truth is, it’s kind of the dirty little secret about all this stuff, most decisions aren’t that difficult,” he said. “You actually do genuinely know what the right thing to do is. And probably the only hard part is making sure you make that choice.”
As Secretary of State, Kander’s three major responsibilities are as the state's chief election official, chief securities regulator and trustee of open and transparent government. He took the opportunity of being in front of perhaps a few “future colleagues” to discuss his top issues of concern: early voting and campaign finance reform.
“Missouri is really far behind on both of those issues,” he said. “We should be looking for ways to make voting more convenient for eligible voters, and we should be looking for a campaign finance system that’s deserving of the public’s trust.”
In regards to early voting, Kander helped lead a bi-partisan commission that proposed recommendations to reform early voting. At the heart of his battle is the desire to reduce election fraud. He believes early voting is the best way to reduce voting fraud.
For more on Kander’s visit to SLU LAW and his legislative goals, check out the St. Louis Beacon.