“In this current environment, you have to have a leader, especially in this district, representing Kansas City, who can work across the aisle to negotiate and fight for resources for Kansas City,” Pat Contreras said.



“My dad was a force”









By Joe Arce and Corey Crable

As a candidate for Missouri’s State Senate serving District 7, Pat Contreras wants to be a voice for the unheard. “You really need a strong leader in Jefferson City who understands how to navigate very turbulent political dynamics to deliver results for Kansas City and to fight for Kansas City’s fair share and more,” said Contreras, a Democrat who previously ran for State Treasurer in 2016. “And that’s what I want to do as state senator, to fight for Kansas City’s fair share and more when it comes to funding for our schools, funding for our higher education institutions, funding for workforce development and training, funding for roads and bridges and infrastructure, which are so critical to the health of our region, and also making it a place that’s welcoming for all.” It’s a big order – Missouri, after all, is a big state, and although Contreras praised its racial diversity, all of its residents want is someone who can help advocate for them and to help them improve their quality of life. Contreras, who also has served as a U.S. Diplomat in the Obama administration, said he has both the knowledge and the experience to work with both political parties within the state’s capital. The key to building those conversations and those relationships, he said, is developing trust. “In this current environment, you have to have a leader, especially in this district, representing Kansas City, who can work across the aisle to negotiate and fight for resources for Kansas City. If you don’t have those existing relationships, it makes it impossible,” he said. “And what I’m really good at is building those relationships and building trust with people.” Throughout his campaigning, Contreras said affordable housing in Kansas City remains near the top of the list of issues his would-be constituents want addressed. “It’s really difficult for this community, and I don’t want Kansas City to be unaffordable,” Contreras said. “Kansas City needs to be a place for everyone, and everyone needs to have access to health care, access to good schools, good paying jobs. … (People are) working two or three jobs, and they’re struggling just to make ends meet, let alone save. … And that’s my commitment I want to work with our local leadership at the state, as well as at the city and county, to make Kansas City affordable for all.” The region’s economy, too, needs an injection of new ideas and fresh perspectives in order to make those things happen, he added. “A top priority for me is to continue to help grow the region’s economy. And I think that important component, growing a region’s economy, is what’s going to also help grow those salaries,” Contreras said. “And I want those big projects to come to Missouri. When we see the big projects like Meta or Google, how do we get those big projects and attract those big types of economic development initiatives, so that we can also create those good paying jobs here?” Perhaps just as important, Contreras said, is ensuring Latino residents of Missouri can see someone who looks like them in such a position of leadership – if elected, Contreras would be the first Latino elected to the statehouse as a senator in Missouri’s history. “One, shame on you, State of Missouri, that it’s taken this long, and two, let’s get out there and get it done and start making change, because we need more people that look like me,” he said. “We need people, more people that look like those underrepresented groups that aren’t being heard in this legislature and how do we create more opportunities for them to lead and to bring diverse perspectives into this legislature, because diverse perspectives only contribute to a stronger state.” Contreras said he is very aware of voters’ perception of the bickering being lobbed back and forth in Jefferson City, and he said he promises to lead from a place of understanding and doing what is best for the communities in his district, which includes the Westside and Northeast neighborhoods. “If and when I win, that’s going to be my commitment from day one, all the way through my term,” he said, “is that I will listen to community first and the community will help lead and guide my policy-making decisions.” Another issue on the lips of many Kansas Citians – the effort to keep the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals on the Missouri side of the state line – is one on which Contreras said he’ll work hard. We know KC pride and we work hard and we take care of our people and we love our sports and we love Kansas City barbecue, and we love our teams. And I want to do all that I can from the state perspective to keep those teams here,” Contreras said. “And let’s say, for example, if the stars just don’t align and maybe a team has to go, I want to make sure that I’m keeping them in the region. So working with the state of Kansas to keep the Chiefs and Royals in the region at the very least will be a huge commitment of mine … but first and foremost, let’s keep them in Kansas City, Missouri.” Contreras thanked those who have supported him during his campaign, including the person Contreras hopes to replace in the statehouse -- State Sen. Greg Razer, who has endorsed Contreras. Contreras also praised members of his family for teaching him the value of hard work, including his father, Bobby Contreras, a former Union IBW leader and former employee of KCP&L his mother, Lola Rocha, who worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and his grandfather, World War II veteran Ishmael Rocha. In the coming weeks, as he continues fundraising and knocking on doors, Contreras said he encourages voters to turn out – and if you’re not a registered voter, there’s still time to add your name to the list. “It’s so important to our community that we register to vote and that we register new voters every election cycle, because there’s a big part of this district and a big part of the state that has a strong Latino representation,” Contreras said. “And now is our time. It is our time to step up.” The primary election is Aug. 6.





“We need people, more people that look like those underrepresented groups that aren’t being heard in this legislature and how do we create more opportunities for them to lead and to bring diverse perspectives into this legislature, because diverse perspectives only contribute to a stronger state.”