Jackson County Democrats honored Victor Callahan with the 2019 Senator Ronnie DePasco Public Service Award over the weekend.
On Saturday, the former lawmaker accepted the recognition, joining the ranks of former-Govs. Bob Holden and Roger Wilson, former-U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, former-House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, and former-U.S. Rep. Karen McCarthy.
“The Ronnie DePasco Award is a very prestigious award that went to an extremely deserving person. He has garnered many accolades, but I know this one is special to him,” Sen. John Rizzo said.
“I am very grateful for the honor. I am so grateful to all my friends and supporters that showed up … I am deeply appreciative for the award, particularly since it holds a personal, special significance as well,” Callahan told The Missouri Times. “When I worked for [Senator Ronnie DePasco], he was a very warm and respected man who entered politics for all the right reasons — to help people who need it [and] make his community a better place.”
A recipient of the Harry S. Truman Recognition Award and Citizen of the Year by the Truman Heartland Foundation and the Independence Chamber of Commerce, Callahan served in the Missouri state Senate from 2003 to 2013. He was unanimously elected as floor leader for the Senate Democrats in November 2008 and November 2010.
Prior to being elected to the state Senate, he served as an Independence city councilman and as chairman of the Jackson County Legislature.
Callahan worked for DePasco’s campaign in 1992 and then continued to worked for him in the Capitol. During his time in the state Senate, Callahan held the same seat, the same district, as DePasco previously did.
“While he never sacrifices his hard earned values, Victor always searches for a path forward, an increasingly rare trait in American politics. His word is his bond, and it helps to have a movie reference to seal the deal with him,” Former-Gov. Jay Nixon said. “He strives to see problems from all sides, and has respect and friendship from those same divergent personalities.”
The Senator Ronnie DePasco Public Service Award recognizes an elected Democratic official who has dedicated his or her professional career to public service and who reflects the commitment of DePasco to working families and Democratic values.
“Senator Callahan has been a major force in both local and state politics for three decades. It’s especially fitting that he received this honor named after one of his mentors, the late Senator Ronnie DePasco whom he worked for in the 90s. The Jackson County Democratic Committee appreciates his years of service and his message of making face to face contact with voters in the community,” Geoff Gerling, the executive director of the Jackson County Democratic Committee, told The Missouri Times.
“As an Independence city councilman, Jackson County legislator, state senator representing Jackson County, and Democratic leader in the Missouri Senate, there is no doubt about the overwhelmingly positive impact Victor Callahan has had on Jackson County and Democratic politics throughout the entire state,” said Rizzo.
Alisha Shurr was a reporter for The Missouri Times and The 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.