Aldolphus M. Pruitt

The first African American to be elected to Missouri’s legislature was Walthall M. Moore Sr. of St. Louis city’s 3rd District in 1921; his district was overwhelmingly white. A postal clerk and a Republican, he served in the 51st, 53rd, 54th, and 55th General Assemblies. It took another 39 years before the first African American was elected to the Missouri Senate when Theodore McNeal of St. Louis was elected state senator in 1960.

However, 97 years after electing the first African American to the Missouri House of Representatives we still have not elected or appointed an African American to serve in our state’s Executive Branch as a statewide official.  And, according to an analysis by the Associated Press, Missouri is one of the few states with such a distinction.

Mark Sawyer, director of the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Politics at UCLA, writes that “progress for minorities on the statewide level has stalled since a wave of moderate, black officials was elected in the 1980s.” That wave must have missed Missouri. African-American candidates may succeed in the state’s urban centers (African-American strongholds), but none has made a transition to statewide office.

Now there is an opportunity for Governor Mike Parson to move Missouri forward with the state treasurer seat left open by Parson’s appointment of state Treasurer Eric Schmitt to fill the state attorney general seat left open by the election of Attorney General Josh Hawley to the U.S. Senate. Parson can make history with the appointment of State Representative Shamed Dogan (R-Ballwin) as state treasurer.

Dogan is a Republican member of the Missouri House of Representatives, representing the 98th District in St. Louis County; he was elected to his first two-year term in November 2014 and re-elected ever since. His fair and balanced approach representing all Missourians – regardless of race and gender, rural or urban – has earned him the titled as statesman. And his qualifications are impeccable.

He is a graduate from Yale University (political science and philosophy) and has worked for the Black America's Political Action Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and U.S. Senator Jim Talent as a legislative assistant. Previous he served as deputy coalitions director of the Missouri Republican Party and as an alderman representing Ballwin’s 2nd Ward.

He is a board member for the Epworth Children & Family Services and former board member of the Epilepsy Foundation of Missouri & Kansas, the St. Louis Area Young Republicans, and the West St. Louis County Jaycees.

Shamed Dogan should be our next state treasurer; the Governor Parson should make history.

Adolphus M. Pruitt II is president of the St. Louis City NAACP.

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