After four terms and almost eight years, State Rep. Sheila Solon is getting ready to retire from the Missouri House of Representatives.
A Republican who currently represents portions of Andrew and Buchanan counties, Solon came to northwest Missouri after losing a reelection bid as a state representative for Blue Springs.
“I’m the only person in the history of the State of Missouri who has represented two totally different districts,” said Solon. “I represented (Blue Springs) for six years, then my husband got a job at R/S Electric here in St. Joe.”
Solon called the decision to run for the House again the “biggest leap of faith” that she has ever taken in her career.
“I knew a lot and I had a lot of experience,” Solon said after moving north. “I felt like I could go back to the legislature and help St. Joseph.”
Even though it was a new constituency, Solon said serving St. Joseph and Andrew County turned into a blessing.
“These last two years, I will say, have been the best two years of service,” she said in an interview with News-Press NOW.
Solon was able to accomplish several legislative achievements while in St. Joseph, including a measure last year that created the St. Joseph Land Bank and reforms to the state’s foster care apparatus.
“This year, I passed House Bill 1414, which was a lot of really big changes to our foster care system,” Solon said. “A lot of things that we’ve been trying to get changed for the last five or ten years.
“We got that accomplished to add greater transparency and accountability to our foster care system, ways to help attract more foster parents and probably the most important parts of this is to help these kids that are our responsibility in the foster care system be listened to.”
First elected to the House in 2010, Solon represented the 55th District in Blue Springs. After redistricting, the district she called her home was District 31. She won reelection in 2012 and 2014, but was unseated in a contentious 2016 Republican primary with Dan Stacy, now a state representative who served along Solon the last two sessions.
Solon was once again voted into state office in 2018, an election cycle that saw several open House seats in St. Joseph as well as a closely watched Senate election that ended in a victory for first-time officeholder Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, a Republican who represents Buchanan and Platte counties. Also elected that year: State Reps. Brenda Shields and Bill Falkner, both freshman legislators from St. Joseph.
As for future political endeavors, Solon said she is leaving the door open.
“I had my life pretty well planned out: I was gonna run for the Senate in my previous seat in the Kansas City area, then everything changed and I moved here,” she said. “I love St. Joe and the community, and we’ve made so many friends here.
“I don’t know really what the future holds. I’ve had a lot of offers, but I want to be a great state rep to the very end.”