The race to become the next Speaker Pro Tem in the Missouri House of Representatives features three strong contenders in Reps. Jason Chipman, Glen Kolkmeyer, and John Wiemann. We spoke with each representative about a number of issues to get their thoughts on where Missouri goes next, the issues they foresee, and why they want to serve as the Pro Tem.
Here are the answers from Rep. John Wiemann:
MT: What motivated you to run for Speaker Pro Tem?
JW: The encouragement and support from fellow house members along with the desire to help our caucus and the house of representatives achieve success and advance a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda that benefits Missourians from all walks of life. House leadership is about service. It’s about listening and being responsive and accessible to our caucus members so we can all better serve the constituents we were elected to represent.
MT: What would you seek to do in the role?
JW: My number one priority would be to work closely with members to help them pass meaningful legislation and help the caucus maintain and grow its supermajority in the house on the strength of our achievements for Missouri families. In addition, I would serve as an advocate and chief liaison between the house and the senate. While the Speaker and Majority Floor leader interact with Senate leadership, I believe we need someone on the leadership team who will work closely with the Senate on a daily basis in order to support and advocate for house priorities.
MT: How has your experience in the House equipped you for such an important leadership role?
JW: During my three years of serving in the house, I served on the Whip Team, Point of Order Team, Policy Development Caucus, along with my service on key House committees such as Appropriations, Rules and Fiscal Review. This past session I served as Vice Chair of Insurance and was Chair of a Creation and Appointments sub-committee. In addition, I have significant leadership experience in the private sector having served in executive management positions for several large and medium size companies as well as running my own company.
MT: What do you see as the primary purpose of the pro tem office and how would you achieve that?
JW: In addition to conducting the duties of the Speaker in the event of an absence, and assisting with the caucus communications, I believe the primary role of the Pro Tem’s office is to serve as an advocate for member’s legislation in the House and Senate. My plan is to continue improving the messaging of the caucus by utilizing members with marketing and social media expertise along with ensuring our message is amplified by the state party. In addition, I will meet daily with Senate leadership to monitor the flow of house bills in the Senate and to communicate back to members and leadership as to what is necessary to advance our legislation through the Senate.
MT: What sets you apart from the other candidates for the position?
JW: The House Republican caucus is full of talented people with a variety of work and leadership experiences in the private and public sector. I believe what sets me apart from other candidates are my strong interpersonal and listening skills that I have learned and mastered over the past thirty years working in the public and private sectors. In addition, I have over thirty years of political experience helping Republicans win local, state and national office. Along with my political background, I have accumulated valuable leadership and sales experience in the private sector. I believe my combined leadership experience in politics and business will allow me the ability to help members navigate successfully the sometimes harsh political climate of Jefferson City.
MT: What priorities would you like the see the legislature tackle in 2018?
JW: Business friendly and economic development initiatives, judicial and Medicaid reform and infrastructure legislation, specifically for transportation and public utilities. The Legislature needs to focus on enacting solutions that will dramatically improve the economic climate of Missouri so we can help attract new businesses and create an environment that helps existing businesses stay and grow here. If our state economy is doing well and businesses are growing, it will help reduce our social problems and Missourians will have a better quality of life.
MT: What moment are you most proud of as a legislator?
JW: While some legislators might say passing a specific bill or law, I am most proud of the times when I was able to help my fellow caucus members pass legislation that is important to them and benefits the entire state.
MT: What advice would you give to an incoming freshman representative?
JW: Develop good relationships with everyone who works in the Capitol. Build coalitions and work together as a team. It can be tough to get things done in Jefferson City, so you need as many friends as possible to support your priorities. It’s alright to disagree with someone, but don’t be disagreeable, and never make it personal. Finally, pick and choose your battles with caucus members carefully, as your words and actions matter.
MT: How does the House maintain unity in its supermajority?
JW: As with any organization, you must have clear and consistent communication about the goals and objectives to be accomplished. In addition, the house Republican caucus must recruit and support good candidates to replace termed out members. Finally, leadership must maintain a strong conviction to support Republican and conservative principles in the house of which a majority of caucus members were elected.
MT: What do you see as the biggest challenge of serving in leadership in a supermajority?
JW: Maintaining a high level of two-way communication with members. Selecting the right people for the right jobs and staying focused on caucus legislative priorities on behalf of the workers and families of Missouri.
We also asked each representative to take part in a “rapid fire” round of questioning.
- Favorite chain restaurant: LongHorn Steakhouse
- Favorite Jefferson City hangout: Hoxton Bar & Grill or The Grand
- Favorite TV show: American Pickers on History Channel
- Favorite food to BBQ: Baby Back Ribs
- Favorite animal at the zoo: Elephant