Jackson County politics can get childish. In 2006, two legislators, Robert Stringfield and Dan Tarwater, took a contentious meeting into overtime and continued the debate with their fists.
Greg Walters is running for a seat on the Legislature. He recently sent out a creative campaign mailer: a coloring book. But he insists that he was not trying to draw a parallel between the first grade and county politics, as powerful as the connection may appear.
Instead, Walters was looking for a way to stand out -- and take advantage of his wife Marelise's artistic ability. She draws in a style reminiscent of Archie Comics. "She's one of those people who was drawing before she could walk," Walters says.
The comic book tells the "story" of a former Raytown alderman who hopes to unseat an entrenched incumbent. Walters is trying to oust Bob Spence, who has been in office since 1998. In the comic book, Spence is made to resemble a biblical figure who's been out in the wilderness too long.
Walters is no stranger to incumbency himself. He was an alderman in Raytown for 27 years, and he's aware that he's open to charges of hypocrisy by making an issue Spence's time in office. "Looking back, I probably stayed too long, to be honest," Walters says of his time on the Raytown council.
As an alderman, Walters complained about the proliferation of tax incentives for private developers. He continues to beat the drum. His coloring book depicts a "Super Duper Mart" that receives tax breaks while homeowners pay full shares.
The black-and-white coloring book stands apart from political mailers that rely on images of soaring eagles and wind-whipped flags. Walters says he wanted to get across his message without it being overbearing. "I think I did it," he says.