JEFFERSON CITY, Mo — The passing of Rep. Rory Ellinger, D-University City, has been a difficult thing to process for his colleagues, friends, and family. One of the most profound impacts left in the parting of Rep. Ellinger was left on his legislative assistant, Fredrick Doss.
Doss, who is originally from Kirkwood, attended college at Missouri State University where he majored in political science and minored in sociology. Although he was always interested in politics, his first real life experience came in the form of campaign manager for Jim Evans, who was running for Missouri’s 7th congressional district in 2012.
“It was a whole new experience – I had never run a a campaign before. I recruited some of my friends to work on the campaign. We organized a lot of meetings and events. We went to Democratic National Convention and passed out cards to let people know we had this great progressive candidate. We didn’t get to go door to door very much since we didn’t have that big of a staff. We expected about 15 percent of the vote and wound up with 30.1 percent. Since we were basically out-funded 100-1 – I was very surprised with the success,” Doss said.
This proved to be an important step in moving forward with his career. During the time as campaign manager, he met Executive Director for the House Democrat Victory Committee, Jordan Overstreet. Overstreet took to Doss and his work as campaign manager and kept him in mind if any other relevant positions were to open up.
In January of 2013, Doss began a position at Park University as a financial aid counselor. Six months later, it came to Frederick’s attention that his credentials had been passed on to Rep. Rory Ellinger who was looking for a new legislative assistant.
Ellinger and Doss got together and had lunch following President Barrack Obama’s visit and speech in Warrensburg, Missouri.
Doss accepted the position that was offered to him that July afternoon and had to learn to adjust to working for a man whose work was fast-paced and constant.
“It was a lot to learn in a short period of time, especially with Ellinger. He works on so many different projects I felt like I should have a law degree by default. It was a lot of different things at one time,” Doss said.
Doss told The Missouri Times that Ellinger really would put a personal stake into issues that were brought to his office.
“A lot of the bills he sponsored I didn’t have a personal stake in, but I knew a fair amount of people who did. I thought it was absolutely surprising someone would go after reducing sentences for first time non-violent felony offenders and the decriminalization of marijuana. We also sponsored a bill to give retired teachers in the city of St. Louis a cost of living increase, many of the teachers who had retired hadn’t been given a cost of living increase since 2006. He took things really personally when people came into that office – he would always say, ‘I cant promise you much, but I will do something,’” Doss said.
Doss had a difficult time following the passing of Rep. Ellinger, but did not have to look far for support as many members of the Missouri Legislature, and employees of legislators reached out to him.
“It has definitely been challenging. It was very hard for me initially. One thing I was so surprised by was the enormous amount of support I got from the people I work with, a lot of the legislators and senators. I received a lot of support from people who didn’t know me or just met me. It made it easier to deal with, coming in and having people who were concerned for me – it was really special,” Doss said.
“As much as I am not much of a religious person, I feel like it was meant to be, to experience what it feels like to work for a public servant who felt for others and had such a large heart. I hope that I can live up to the man I got to work for,” Doss said.
Going forward, Doss would like to try and stay in the Capitol for the next upcoming years, but other than that he is undecided.
“I would like to stay with a legislature a few more years. I’ve been kind of playing it by ear, this is definitely a place I could see myself working in for the next few years before I move on,” Doss said.