Her sights are set on November challenge of incumbent Sam Graves.

Kay Barnes is asking residents of the 6th Congressional District if they are better off now than they were eight years ago.

The former Kansas City mayor who left office with compliments from both political sides isn’t anticipating any positive comments, and she’s hoping that district residents see her as the one who can help improve the quality of life.

“The cost of living, food prices, health care, gas prices – they are issues on everyone’s minds, in the district and out,” Barnes, a Democrat seeking the nomination during the Aug. 5 primary, said.

Her Democratic opponent is Ali Allon Sherkat, a Riverside, Mo., resident and former engineer with, according to his Web site, experience in finance and consultation. Sherkat, though, did not return phone calls or e-mail messages from The Examiner.

Whoever wins the primary between Barnes and Sherkat will face Republican two-term incumbent Sam Graves Nov. 4.

For Barnes, the decision to run for the 6th District was born out of an understanding that the district residents need a representative who can, does and has reached across party lines to achieve goals difficult to accomplish.

“I think voters are tired of extreme partisanship,” she said. “They want someone who can offer experience and midwest values.”

As a representative of a district that encompasses a part of Eastern Jackson County that includes Blue Springs, Buckner and northeastern Independence, along with Clay and Platte counties and 23 other counties in the northern part of the state, Barnes wants to focus on numerous issues.

With her Democratic opponent spending little money and not responding to media requests, Barnes is already focusing her campaign platform on contrasting herself with Graves.

She’s quick to offer her first issue, that of harnessing wind power as a viable source of energy locally and, ideally, across the nation. She recently attacked  Graves over the Production Tax Credit, which provides a tax credit for electricity generated by wind power. The tax credit is set to expire by the end of this year, and Barnes said her opponent and his actions in the past to vote against it works against what the people need and what the state can do to become a forerunner in the quest for alternative energy.

“Rock Port (in northwest Missouri) is the first city in the United States to generate all of its power from wind turbines,” she said. “We need to expand on that.”

If elected, Barnes wants to keep that tax credit active and, if at all possible, expand on it. She said she wants to put an end to subsidies she claims are “doled out to big companies like Exxon.”

“(Graves) has opposed recent common sense attempts to redirect tax breaks to alternative energies,” she said.

When it comes to affordable health care, Barnes said she wants to work to redirect public money back into Medicare and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, two programs that care for seniors and children.

Barnes is also critical of how representatives treat current and former military members. She said she wants to help improve on a new GI Bill that will include educational benefits, stipends for housing, program fees and books.

Barnes is especially critical of immigration reform. With more than five million illegal immigrants in the country, Barnes said that President Bush and Graves have failed to secure borders. She pointed to Graves’s vote to cut $48 million from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. In another instance, she said Graves voted against a bill that would have addressed the smuggling of illegal immigrants. She also wants to push for harsher punishments against employers who continue to hire illegal immigrants.

“It’s a complicated issue that needs addressed immediately,” she said, adding that prevention measures – be it a wall, virtual fence, and/or increase to the number of border agents – need to be decided upon quickly.

“Some cases call for a virtual fence and other cases call for more agents,” she said, adding that communication between government agencies administering and applying the system needs to communicate more efficiently with Washington, D.C.

Barnes said little concerning how certain measures like improved border security and alternative energy would be funded if tax credits fail. She did say she was against raising existing or creating new taxes.

In addition to being mayor of Kansas City for two terms, Barnes was a coordinator for the Women’s Resource Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City; director of volunteers for Cross-Lines, an interfaith social service agency; she owned and operated a human resource development firm specializing in leadership and public speaking.

In 1974, she became one of two women on the Jackson County Legislature, as well as a council member for Kansas City serving the fourth district.