JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Growing up, Ward Cook never saw himself as a lobbyist, nor did he realize the man he would lobby with in the Missouri Capitol lived blocks away.
“[Woody Cozad] and I had a lot of mutual connections. He lived two blocks away from me when I was growing up. He grew up and was an acolyte in the same church that I did at St. Andrew’s. My mom and his wife were in Junior League at the same time and have a lot of the same mutual friends as well,” he said. “It was crazy. It was very, very weird.”
Though Cook has been around for a while, he did not start his lobbying career in Missouri.
“I used to lobby for a transportation-lobbying firm. My client was the American Shortline Regional Railroad Association. I used to travel around the country and do fundraisers for regional railroads and then report back. That’s how I got to travel all over the country. We would do fundraisers on the back of train cars. It was pretty cool,” Cook said.
“A friend of mine held the position before me and said, ‘Hey, you’d be pretty good at this,’ but I never saw myself as a lobbyist. I was an office manager for a little nonprofit PAC and thought ‘why not?’”
The position he came back home to the Kansas City area for didn’t work out, but all signs pointed to Woody Cozad when he started asking around for leads of a political job.
“I introduced myself to Woody and after two or three interviews, he decided to hire me,” he said.
Cook started lobbying in Missouri on October 1, 2003. “This is my tenth session and eleventh year with Woody.”
This year is not only Cook’s tenth anniversary at the Capitol, but his tenth wedding anniversary.
“I got married the weekend of the last week of my first session. I got married that Saturday,” he laughed. Cook has two children: a six-year-old daughter, Katie, and a fifteen-month-old son, Jack. Friends of Cook know of the burgeoning personality Katie is developing. She was a avid fan of the recent Winter Olympics.
“I don’t know if Katie will be a future lobbyist, but she will definitely be in some kind of public relations. She’s very outgoing and very outspoken, as well,” said Cook. “I tell people that I’m not worried about her when she starts dating, but I’m more worried about the boys that she dates. I’m worried about the mom of the first guy she dates calling me saying, ‘My son is in tears and is in love with your daughter, but she doesn’t love him back.’”
Rachael Herndon was the editor at The Missouri Times and also produced This Week in Missouri Politics, published Missouri Times Magazine, and co-hosted the #MoLeg podcast. She joined The Missouri Times in 2014, returning to political reporting after working as a campaign and legislative staffer.
Rachael studied at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children.