Civil rights

A civil rights lawyer and a retired naval officer fight over the Missouri House District 50 seat

A retired naval officer and a civil rights attorney fight over the right to represent Missouri’s 50th State House District. Each says their experience makes them the best candidates for the job.

The race pits retired naval officer James Musgraves, a Republican, against civil rights lawyer Douglas Mann, a Democrat, in the Nov. 8 general election.

Candidate journey

Retiring after 31 years of active duty, Musgraves said he decided to run for office after watching the government make decisions that were detrimental to the country and the economy.

“I think the engagement has to be top-down and bottom-up. I happen to engage at the state level, and I work very closely with some people who come forward at the local level, ” he said.

Musgraves grew up in North County, St. Louis, and enlisted in the United States Navy after graduating from Hazelwood Central High School. In 1990, he received a Navy ROTC scholarship and attended the University of Missouri where he earned his undergraduate degree.

Subsequently, he underwent flight training, received his “Golden Wings” as a helicopter pilot, and performed several other jobs, moving from “blue-collar to white-collar” positions within the same organization. He said going from a rookie to a full commander in 31 years has taught him a lot about leadership and management, which will serve him well in the representative job.

This is not the first time he has run for office. In 2020, he ran for Associate Commissioner in the Boone County North District. Since then, he said he has been knocking on doors and meeting with people to hear their concerns.

Mann, a Columbia civil rights attorney, is a new candidate, but he said he has always been politically engaged. His mother, a member of the LGBTQ community, taught him the importance of being a citizen and working with his community. This inspired Mann early on to champion this group as well as volunteer for Planned Parenthood.

As a lawyer, Mann focuses on employment discrimination and school discrimination. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in education from Niagara University in upstate New York, a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a law degree from ‘University of Missouri.

Mann said he would bring efficiency and empathy to the 50th District headquarters.

“I would use ‘efficiency’ as I have experience building relationships with a diverse set of community stakeholders to try to get things done, as well as experience working with people from all political backgrounds to achieve our goals,” Mann said. “And the ’empathy’ in there…I’ve had a variety of life experiences and interacted with a large and diverse group of people. I believe that gives me the empathy to be a good and efficient representative of the people of the 50th (District).”

Main issues

Musgraves said the No. 1 concern people have raised with him is the economy and inflation and how that affects budgets at home. If elected, Musgraves said he would focus on eliminating a percentage of the grocery tax as well as repealing or delaying the grocery tax increase. gasoline for Missourians.

Another of his concerns is education. According to Musgraves, public schools in Columbia have been on a downward trend since 2016. He said he observed a presentation that showed local schools were failing to track key performance indicators compared to other schools in the state. His proposal is to assess teachers, parents and students to see what could be improved in the district to address this issue.

Mann said he would try to find places where Democrats and Republicans could work together. He said that as a Democrat from Missouri, it would be difficult to get the legislation passed in the state (on his own), so finding Republicans he can work with would be a first step towards establishing those relationships.

Douglas Mann