Power Profile: Governor Mike Parson
They say to get ahead in life you need to work hard and keep your nose to the grindstone. If anyone has ever done just that, it is Missouri Gov. Mike Parson.
He learned to do hard work early, having been raised on a farm in Hickory County, in southwest Missouri. He and First Lady Teresa Parson have lived near Bolivar where they still own and operate a cow/calf operation, a natural thing to do for a third-generation farmer.
But after graduating from Wheatland High School and serving six years in the U.S. Army, Parson was called to public service. He was elected sheriff of Polk County in 1993. He earned the confidence of voters, who elected him to represent them in the Missouri House of Representatives in 2005. Little did they know that his entry into the House would later lead to a much bigger house – the Governor’s Mansion in Jefferson City.
He was sworn in as Missouri’s 57th governor on June 1, 2018. Just two years earlier, he had been elected Lt. Governor, winning 110 of Missouri’s 114 counties.
Prior to that, he served in the Missouri Senate for six years.
When he assumed the office of governor, a sigh of relief seemed to fall over the Capitol. A former long-term state representative from across the aisle, Chris Kelly, told a reporter: “He’s not flashy…but he’s smart, and he knows how to make good decisions.”
As Parson assumed the governorship, the New York Times quoted another former state legislator as saying that when it comes to political experience and relationships in Jefferson City, “Mr. Parson has an abundance of both.”
Gov. Parson was known in the Legislature for supporting tax cuts and deregulation for businesses. As governor, he strongly supports workforce development and infrastructure improvements across the state. In recent remarks before an audience in St. Louis, he stressed the need to “partner with utilities to get that done.”
In the first weeks and months of his administration, Gov. Parson went on a “listening tour” meeting with local officials to assess their needs.
“I met with mayors all across the state, big towns, small towns. I met with most of the commissioners in the state,” the governor said. “Infrastructure was the number one thing, and workforce development. So, it’s pretty simple – we gotta find solutions.”
He noted especially the needs in rural Missouri. “I think utilities will play a huge role in how we provide service to rural Missouri,” he said.
He’s come a long way from farming roots in rural Missouri and in 2018 was named by Ingram’s as one of “50 Missourians You Should Know.” Now occupying the highest office in the state, his hard work has paid off, and everyone is getting to know Gov. Mike Parson.