Hough adjusting to new role as Greene County Commissioner after House stint

  

Former representative leaves open possibility for future Senate run

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – After three terms in the Missouri House of Representatives, Lincoln Hough decided to serve the public in another capacity instead of going for a fourth term.

He won election in November to serve as one of three members of the Greene County Commission, and so far, he has enjoyed the transition as well as working with Presiding Commissioner Bob Cirtin and 1st District Commissioner Harold Bengsch.

“We’ve got a really good team in Greene County,” he says.

So far, the transition has gone smoothly and in about three months on the job, he has already taken on a litany of new responsibilities, from the $150 million budget in one of the state’s most populous counties to working with local elected officials from municipalities in the Springfield area.

However, one of the largest changes he has had to deal with is the policy dynamic and the speed and efficiency with which he can respond to a constituent’s concerns. Hough says things simply happen faster in Greene County.

“In Jefferson City, we’d have these 30,000 foot conversations, the big policy discussions, but when you work at the local level you can get a comment from someone in a community about an issue in their neighborhood, and you can have someone from your road and bridge crew out there addressing a sidewalk concern or a pothole,” he says. “We can have a lot more impact quickly at the local level.”

In addition to some of those more direct local issues, Greene County has, like the Missouri Legislature, debated installing a prescription drug monitoring plan. Hough says he expects to see some movement in the next few weeks.

For Hough, there’s an easy calculus to see if it’s a policy worth promoting.

“If you keep one person from getting addicted to some prescription drug because you enacted this… I’m in,” he says.

He came back to the state capitol Monday as part of the County Commissioners Association of Missouri’s legislative day to voice concerns of the group, including the prisoner transfer system that is supposed to be paid by the state. Counties usually pay the upfront cost of prisoner transfers and the state reimburses them. But most counties have not received those reimbursements.

Greene County alone, he says, is $1.7 million in arrears on being reimbursed by the state – that’s eight months of late payments.

Hough believes educating lawmakers about the problems faced by local governments, though whether or not Hough is a local public servant in the long-term remains to be seen.

With Sen. Jay Wasson set to reach his term limit in 2018, people in the community have urged Hough to run for that seat. He raises cattle with his wife in Wasson’s district, and he acknowledges there have been conversations to get him to run for the district.

For now, Hough is weighing his options. He did not confirm to The Missouri Times that he would run again, but he definitely did not rule out running, even though he’s happy working for the county commission.

“I’m not just saying this because everyone says it, but it’s got to be the right fit for my family,” Hough says. “Sarah and I have a three-and-a-half year old at home who’s 100 miles per hour. He’s awesome and I love being home with him, but I also want to do the best thing for my community that I can do, and if it moves me into a different role, then that’s where we’ll be.”

Featured image: Rep. Lincoln Hough (Photo Courtesy of Tim Bommel/House Comms)