1. What was your first campaign experience?
I first ran for office for a trustee spot for St. Louis Community College. It was a large district, the first district, which had I think about 300,000 voters. We did it on a campaign budget for $15,000. It was an interesting experience, and good exposure for running for office later on. I took on an incumbent and was successful in the [Community College trustee] race and was on the board for six years.
2. In what ways have you made a tangible effect on your constituents’ lives during the past legislative session?
I’m a former teacher and very committed to public education and quality education. I serve on education committee, and I think I was able to help steer the conversation on education issues in a direction hat was helpful for people of the 69th District who appreciate their public schools and feel teachers and administrators are working in the best interest of the kids. There were some bills that came through that had their focus in the wrong direction. I tried to stay on behalf of the kids. Now I’m on the Interim Committee [on Education] and I’m hoping some of what we come away with are ideas [for next year].
3. Who from the opposing party do you most respect? And your own party?
I’ve worked with a number of legislators from the other side. Doug Funderburk and I were working together on the Internet sales tax bill. He has been very good at cooperating and trying to put it forward in his way. I also respect the way he handled the utilities committee. He did a very fair job and helped to educate everyone on the committee on the complexity of the utilities issues.
I also have a lot of respect for Elaine Gannon who was on the education committee. People who stand strong for public education are important. Mike Thomson is another one, and Mike Lair — they’re all passionate for education. There are a number of people on the Republican side who I appreciate and who I know are representing Missouri in a very good way.
In my own party, I’m really grateful for all of my leadership. They’re going an excellent job. Jeanne Kirkton would be someone who I think has done really great this last year. She’s the ranking minority member on the Budget Committee, and I came to three or four times to say this group needs more funding or could you increase funding here? It was able to happen. She’s quiet but she’s effective. This last year she passed several pieces of legislation, too. She sticks to her values and will compromise but won’t bend on her values. I also have a lot of respect for Jill Schupp. Everybody brings a special gift.
4. What was your dream job growing up?
One time, I wanted to be a freelance artist or a famous artist. I did end up becoming an art teacher and tried my hand at being a freelance artist and there was some success to that. I found that in order to support myself financially that I was going to have to do something else and so I went into teaching.
5. What do you most enjoy about the interim?
I have just returned from the Missouri Bio Tour. We’ve been visiting all of the companies that are in the biotech industry in Missouri. I was just very impressed with what we were doing in this state in the area of plant, humans, animals and medicine. We have the potential to grow many jobs if we in the legislature will support these companies coming out of incubators.
Otherwise, it’s been nice to just relax and spend time with family and get personal things done. I’ve taken a little time off from legislation. The highlight so far I think has been a trip to California to visit my son and daughter.
Ashley Jost is no longer with The Missouri Times. She worked as the executive editor for several months, and a reporter before that.