JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri’s 57th governor took over the office in a time of turmoil in the state, but Governor Mike Parson’s hope is to bring unity back to the state.
With the statewide officeholders, Cabinet members, the Missouri Supreme Court and members of Congress looking on, Gov. Mike Parson spoke to the legislature in a special joint session for the first time.
“I stand before you at a difficult time for our state,” Parson said. “During this time, we have witnessed politics at its worst and at its best. We have been divided and we have been united. Missouri has risen to the occasion, as we always do.”
Parson took over as governor following the resignation of former Gov. Eric Greitens on June 1, 2018, rising from the Office of Lieutenant Governor.
“Today is a time for a fresh start for our state and to recommit ourselves – each and every on of us, including you in the galleries – we must work together for a better Missouri,” he said, receiving a rousing round of applause from the chamber.
“We faced difficult truths, we made tough decisions, we persevered because our institutions are strong and the people of Missouri are stronger,” he said.
Parson spoke of the importance of public service, and the duties and responsibilities of serving the citizens of the state.
“Make no mistake: the offices we now hold are far bigger than any one of us,” he said.
“When the public’s trust is violated, we are obligated to act,” Parson said, saying he had been impressed by the care, prudence, and professionalism of those serving in the legislature over the past session. He called the present day an opportunity for a fresh start and recommit to the values of Missouri’s government.
“This does not mean disregarding our beliefs or moderating our positions. It means debating with respect. It means conducting ourselves with integrity. It means unifying around the idea that – no matter which party we belong to – each of us is here for the same reason: to make Missouri a better place,” he said.
Regardless of party, the Governor’s office is open to you. We’re here to work together, to move #MissouriForward! Enjoyed visiting with the Missouri House and Senate Democratic caucus this afternoon. pic.twitter.com/e4p262VsZg
— Governor Mike Parson (@GovParsonMO) June 11, 2018
Parson called the past legislative session “one of the most historic legislative sessions in recent memory,” referencing the work of the legislature on such issues as tax reform, record education funding, union reform, and a balanced budget.
‘“This is how government should work, and this is the people’s government and – all of us in this room – can ensure that it continues to work in the years ahead,” Parson said.
Parson pledged to ”spend every day working to make our state stronger and more prosperous,” and promising to make the welfare of the people his guiding principle and sole consideration.
“And I will never forget – never forget – that public service is – first and foremost – is about serving Missourians,” he said.
In closing, Parson referenced the words of President Abraham Lincoln in the final days of the Civil War, saying that he was optimistic that Missouri will move forward “with malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on… to finish the work we are in… to bind up the nation’s wounds,” a sentiment that brought the entire room to their feet with applause.
Upon the Governor’s departure, the legislature officially adjourned from the first special session of 2018.
“Governor Parson did a great job tonight and he will be a great governor for Missouri,” Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley said in a statement. “I welcome his leadership in Jefferson City and look forward to working with him for the betterment of Missouri.”
“For 14 years I’ve watched my friend and colleague, Mike Parson, proudly and effectively serve the state of Missouri, first as a representative, senator, lieutenant governor and now governor. There is no one more prepared to take on this challenge,” Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard said. “His strong dedication to agriculture and economic development will help us set the framework that will lead to a better quality of life for all Missourians. I am eager to work with Gov. Parson and his staff as we actively work together to move our great state forward.”
“With his address tonight, Governor Parson made it clear how important it is for this institution to focus on serving the people of Missouri and reaffirmed his strong commitment to restoring the trust of Missourians in their government. Through his leadership, Missouri has a strong future ahead and will not miss a step in moving forward on its path of growth and prosperity for all Missourians,” Speaker of the House Todd Richardson said in a statement. “I am especially pleased that Governor Parson acknowledged the recent historic legislative session and the substantive conservative policies the General Assembly passed. I am confident the governor’s proven conservative track record means he will remain a strong advocate of views Missourians overwhelmingly voted for in 2016 for us to fight for in Jefferson City. We look forward to working with Governor Parson in the months ahead. Governor Parson, his wife, and his family will be in our prayers as he begins this difficult job.”
“After serving six years in the Senate with Mike Parson, I know he is well-prepared for this job. He is not only thoughtful and deliberate, but he is a man of his word. I share his vision to create a stronger, more robust Missouri,” Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe said. “We have many challenges ahead of us, but we have a very capable chief executive in place. Together, we will continue making Missouri one of the top states in the country to live, work and raise a family.”
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.