As Peters Baker announces she will not seek re-election, a familiar face throws her hat in the ring for Jackson County prosecutor

s Peters Baker announces she will not seek re-election, a familiar face throws her hat in the ring for Jackson County prosecutor
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 7:11 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2023 at 12:21 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - A familiar face in the Kansas City, Missouri community is putting her name in the hat for the Jackson County Prosecutor position, Melesa Johnson.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced in June she would not run for re-election. She said that decision had nothing to do with her passion for justice or love for this community.

She was first elected in 2011 and has several of her accomplishments posted on an “At A Glance” website available HERE.

In May 2011, she appointed an external five-member advisory committee to review internal policies and procedures for discovery and case presentation. Also in 2011, she prosecuted the Bishop of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph for failing to report the potential abuse of children by a priest, which attracted national attention.

Fast forward to September 2017 when she published a report, “The Hardest Phone Call a Prosecutor Has to Make” for the Marshall Project, a non-profit journalism project about criminal justice. Baker details the role prosecutors play in communicating and caring for victims of crime. It is one of a prosecutor’s great duties, she writes, but it’s one not often highlighted.

Fast forward again to 2021-2022 when she helped convict several police officers accused of wrongly using excessive or deadly force on citizens. She also helped free Kevin Strickland who spent 43 years behind bars after being wrongly convicted.

Peters Baker has served longer than any other Jackson Co. prosecutor in modern history and longer than most any other elected in the state, according to an email released in June leading up to her press conference.

Baker’s current term will end on Dec. 31, 2024.

Now we focus on the potential new face of the office -- Johnson.

According to a release about her running, “With her extensive experience, unwavering commitment to the rule of law, and a vision for a more equitable legal system, Ms. Johnson is poised to bring positive change to our county’s legal landscape.”

It said, “Her background as a seasoned attorney, combined with her dedication to public service, uniquely positions her to address the pressing issues facing our community.”

If elected, Johnson will make history as the first black female prosecutor for Jackson County.

Her platform emphasizes the following key areas: Transformative justice, victim support and advocacy, community engagement, efficiency and accountability, and violence prevention.

READ MORE: Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker will not seek another term