JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — From his work as a prosecuting attorney to a public defender to an assistant staff judge for the U.S. Air Force, freshman Rep. Robert Sauls has a full life of public service under his belt.
Now, serving in the state House, Sauls, a Democrat, has made it his goal to look at the state legislature from all perspectives so he can better serve his community and country.
“I’ve dedicated my life to public service,” Sauls told The Missouri Times. “I’ve been a prosecutor, I’ve been a public defender, and captain in the Reserves…To me public service is very important, and I see value in that. Ultimately this is just a way that I can continue to contribute and do my part.”
Sauls believes the transition from lawyer to representative has helped him understand how to approach the legislature as well as be cognizant of different perspectives people hold and why they have them. Sauls said he hopes to create personal relationships with his political colleagues and by working together they will be able to pass legislation more efficiently.
“I think it’s been helpful because if you’re a practicing attorney you deal with opposition every day,” Sauls explained. “It’s not uncommon for people to disagree with me, and I think that I’ve learned in that capacity. As a prosecutor, I had to deal with public defenders. As a public defender, I had to deal with prosecutors, and at the end of the day, you could zealously represent your position and still be cordial as well as go out and have a beer afterward. That’s something that I think has been lacking.”
“I try to make a point to meet with conservatives as well as Democrats,” Sauls continued. “I’ve gone to lunch with many Republicans with the whole intent of reaching an understanding and building a relationship. I think that’s important.”
Although his main focus is to help bring parties together, Sauls is most passionate about issues involving criminal justice reform and the expansion of Medicaid. That being said, any issue benefiting Missourians is something he said he can be proud to stand behind.
The representative hopes to protect ballot initiatives for Missouri voters with HJR 42. According to Sauls, the resolution would modify the legislation to repeal statutory provisions on ballot initiatives and keep the legislature from interfering with the will of the people.
“That’s something I’m really passionate about,” said Sauls. “I know there’s opposition to that in the House, but basically it gives strength to ballot initiatives. That’s the will of the people, those are things that the people have put in place, and I think they’re successful because we’re not doing the job here. Things of that nature pass overwhelmingly because the legislature’s not doing what the people want and any attack on that is an attack on democracy itself.”