ST. LOUIS — After five years of lobbying for the state’s firefighters, Mark Habbas has decided to expand.
Habbas recently started a new lobbying firm, Habbas & Associates. While he said the state firefighters currently are his only client, he’s hoping for more options as he moves forward.
“I’m really looking at opportunities for associations or organizations that I can be just as passionate about as I am the firefighters,” he said.
Habbas has gained some support from both sides of the aisle in his years as a lobbyist.
Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Cole County, called Habbas “well trusted and respected” by many people in the Capitol.
“You know with Mark if you ask him a question that he will give you an honest, straight-forward answer,” Kehoe said. “I’m confident that he will continue to represent the firefighters well and will be an asset to any future clients he takes on.”
Rep. Noel Torpey, R-Independence, seconded Kehoe’s sentiments, adding that from his experience, Habbas has always kept his word.
When Sen. Ryan McKenna, D-Jefferson County, ran for office he said Habbas was a firefighter involved with the Local 2665 union when someone put them in touch. Shortly after, Habbas got involved in McKenna’s campaign, and not too long after that, Habbas began lobbying.
“What makes Mark unique is how passionate he is, particularly with the firefighters,” McKenna said. “You could tell it just wasn’t a client. He’s very open and honest with legislators, which I think is a great attribute.”
Michael Kelley, principal for The Kelley Group — a political consulting and public relations firm in St. Louis, said he thinks Habbas’ dedication and advocacy for working families will follow with any client that hires him.
The biggest challenge moving forward, he said, is getting as familiar with the issues of future clients as he is with issues facing firefighters — a profession he’s been involved with for 19 years.
“I’m excited to see what options are out there,” Habbas said. “I don’t feel like I’m desperate to pick up other clients because I’m comfortable with where I’m at, but I also look forward to working with more causes.”
Ashley Jost is no longer with The Missouri Times. She worked as the executive editor for several months, and a reporter before that.