We've had our eye on state Sen. Jolie Justus since she was elected in 2006, and she hasn't let us down. She's unusually accessible, keeping to a schedule of weekly gatherings at Coffee Break (54th Street and Troost) and actually returning calls promptly. And she works to strike down irrational, nanny-state legislation such as Senate Bill 586, sponsored by Sen. Matt Bartle, which succeeded in crippling the strip-club industry in Missouri. Justus proposed a reasonable amendment to the bill, exempting the existing strip clubs in Kansas City. Though she was shot down — outgoing Republican Sen. Charlie Shields said it would make us the "porn center of the Midwest" — she stuck her neck out to defend Missouri jobs. Her causes, such as her mission to get sexual orientation added to the state's nondiscrimination codes, helped put Justus on The Advocate's list of top activists this year. Yes, Justus is Missouri's first openly gay senator, but the fact that she's edging the folks in Jefferson City in a more progressive direction has more to do with her persistence and heart.