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2019 Statesman of the Year: Caleb Jones

A state lawmaker-turned-CEO of the Missouri Electric Co-Ops, Caleb Jones’ dedication to Missouri, particularly its rural areas, knows no bounds. In fact, he says his commitment to public service has only grown over the years. 

And so, The Missouri Times has selected Jones as its third annual Statesman of the Year. 

“When we were discussing who we should honor this year, we tried to think about someone who had served the state and served it in a way that was dedicated to improving the lives of people who might never even know of his actions — someone in the tradition of our first honoree, now-Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, and last year’s nominee, Gov. Mike Parson,” The Missouri Times publisher Scott Faughn said. 

“When thinking about the people all over rural Missouri who will be able to live and work in their hometown, and for the first generation in a 100 years, live and raise a family in a rural way of life due to his work extending broadband internet access to all corners of the state, Caleb Jones was the obvious choice,” Faughn continued. 

“I’d like to congratulation Caleb Jones for being named the 2019 The Missouri Times Statesman of the Year,” said Gov. Mike Parson. “He is a strong leader and understands the issues that impact rural Missouri. We are proud to have him represent our great state.” 

“Congratulations to Caleb on this well-earned recognition,” U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt said. “During his time in public service and as CEO of Missouri co-ops, Caleb has been an incredibly effective advocate for rural Missouri. I appreciate all he has done, and continues to do, to expand opportunity and improve the quality of life in communities across our state.” 

Jones, 40, has had a storied career in Missouri politics, all beginning the summer of 1984 when he rode in the back of a 1949 Chevrolet truck as his father (successfully) campaigned for sheriff. 

He’s worked for U.S. Congressman Kenny Hulshof, served on the Bush/Cheney campaign, and worked in the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a presidential appointee. Eventually, Jones would start his own law firm and run for state representative, serving a mid-Missouri district for several consecutive sessions. 

In 2016, Jones resigned from the General Assembly to become the deputy chief of staff to then-Gov. Eric Greitens. And by January 2018, Jones was making moves again — this time to serve as vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives (AMEC). A year later, he was promoted to its CEO. 

“The rural electric co-ops have been very involved in broadband, but it doesn’t just stop there. From the time the first electric line was run out to a farm, turning on a light there, the rural electric co-ops have been committed to making the lives of rural Missourians better,” Jones said. 

“As a state representative, I served 35,000 people and represented them,” Jones added. “With this job, I get to really do the same thing I’ve done all along in public service and represent our 2 million members in rural Missouri. For me, my commitment to public service hasn’t changed. It’s only gotten bigger. I feel like it’s my job to make sure rural Missouri is represented.” 

In the House, Jones was known for his tenacity. He didn’t shy away from running for leadership positions and at one point chaired the powerful General Laws Committee. He championed a wide array of legislation, from enacting stricter regulations on docks and marinas to helping electric cooperatives. 

“My first experience with Caleb was umpiring him when he was the catcher on the California High School ‘Fighting Pintos’ baseball team — and he has left an impression on me ever since,” veteran strategist Jeff Roe said. “From the Huckabee For President campaign to ‘allowing’ him to marry my employee to his races for the statehouse and Speaker, I’ve never encountered a more fun-loving, honorable guy. I’m proud to see all that he’s accomplished and look forward to seeing what the future holds.”

“Caleb instinctively wants to do the right thing — not just for his family, clients, or constituents but also for the state,” said Jewell Patek, a friend and lobbyist. “In the world of politics, being able to pursue each simultaneously is unique.”  

Jones is married to wife Lindsey and has two children: Max and Charlie. He said it’s “humbling” to work in Missouri politics, surrounded by people who — no matter the political party or hometown — truly want to make the state a better place. And that’s a cause to which he, too, is committed.