Kansas City Councilwoman Jolie Justus has been a lifelong Roo. Both her parents attended UMKC, so it was an easy choice when she was deciding where to attend law school.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at UMKC so much that I came back to volunteer my time as an adjunct professor,” said Justus.
After serving as a state senator and on the City Council, Justus is now running for Kansas City mayor.
Justus graduated law school in 1998 and has worked at Shook Hardy and Bacon LLP ever since.
“In 2003 I took over the position of director of pro-bono legal services, so I oversee all the free legal work we do nationwide,” Justus said. “In that space, I got to see a lot of what we were doing right and what we were doing wrong.”
Justus said this experience helped inspire a passion for public service.
When a state senate seat unexpectedly opened up in 2006, Justus ran and won, becoming the first openly gay member of the Missouri Senate.
Due to term limits, Justus served at the state level for only eight years. When she came back to Kansas City, she ran for City Council. She’s represented the 4th district, which includes UMKC’s Volker campus, for three years.
Highlighting her experience representing people from both the wealthiest and poorest neighborhoods in Kansas City, Justus says she will be able to speak and work for a wide audience.
She sees Kansas City as a city on a roll, but also acknowledges the existence of long-term issues. .
Justus classifies herself as a problem solver, and she looks forward to tackling issues like violent crime and affordable housing.
“I’ve seen firsthand how things like transportation and education and access to jobs can, unfortunately, cause more violent crime,” Justus said.
She believes implementing the right mix of prevention and enforcement can help stop the violence in our city. She says treating crime as a public health issue, not just a law enforcement issue, is a key step forward.
Her work on the City Council includes being chair of the Airport Committee, vice-chair of the Finance and Governance Committee, co-chair of the Legislative Committee and member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
She also led the charge to get the streetcar extended to UMKC.
Justus is one of five city council members running.
Justus notes the benefit of her experience at both the state and local level.
“I know that it’s important for UMKC students in particular to have a mayor that has a good working relationship with Jefferson City,” Justus said.
Justus was one of the early candidates in the mayor race, but dropped out in June.
She announced her return to the crowded field in last month after Jason Kander announced he is no longer seeking the position.
To find out more about Jolie Justus’s campaign, go to justusforkc.com