Janson Thomas is no stranger to politics and working in the Missouri Capitol.
His first experience around the legislature was with the Student Association of Missouri. Later, he served in Governor Bob Holden’s administration as a policy analyst. During state Senator Tim Green’s two terms, Thomas worked as his legislative assistant.
Now, Thomas is chief of staff to Senate Minority Floor Leader Gina Walsh.
“At Northwest, I learned about ‘servant leadership’ which advocates that to be great, you must be able to serve others. Whether it’s helping a vulnerable Missourian find quality health care, or helping a small business owner cut through red tape, or ensuring that our Veterans are receiving the benefits they’ve earned, assisting Sen. Walsh’s constituents is the most meaningful part of my job,” said Thomas.
He noted that to be successful in the State Capitol, one must cultivate meaningful relationships across whatever divides us politically, regionally or personally.
Several years ago, Green gave a speech in which he called for a renewed commitment to civility, following a rather contentious session the previous year. Thomas keeps a copy of Green’s words in his desk to raise his expectations of himself and others in all that we do.
In his own words, Thomas said that his business is helping people.
“If anything, what surprises most people about our jobs is how little partisan politics play a role in the day-to-day business of the Senate,” said Thomas. “When a person is battling cancer and needs health care, or when they’ve been laid off and need to find work, the letter after their Senator’s name means very little. What matters most is the lengths to which that Senator will go to help Missourians tackle whatever challenge is before them. Sen. Walsh goes above and beyond to serve her district and I am honored to work with her in the Missouri Senate.”
The fight against the so-called “right-to-work” legislation was one example he pointed to.
At the ballot box, 67 percent of Missouri voters rejected the law. That was Democrats and Republicans, both voting down the law.
Over the next 5 to 10 years, Thomas noted, the ability for Missouri workers to participate in their constitutional right to organize will have a profound impact on the strength of the middle class and their quality of life.
“My dad is a retired United Transportation Union member and, like many Missourians, my mom and dad raised me to value hard work and organized labor. Sen. Walsh knows that collective bargaining is how working people get a seat at the table, and I’m proud to fight by her side,” said Thomas.
This piece is featured as part of the Missouri Times’ Best of the Legislature 2018 appearing in the January 2019 Missouri Times Magazine.
Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University. Contact Alisha at firstname.lastname@example.org.