ST. LOUIS – After former Majority Floor Leader Todd Richardson left his position to become the speaker of the house in the tumultuous final hours of the 2015 legislative session, Rep. Mike Cierpiot, R-Lee’s Summit, took over the Republican Caucus in the House for a few hours.
Tomorrow, he’ll lobby to continue on in that role and become the majority floor leader for the next year, and he believes he’s the right candidate for the job because it would provide stability to the position.
“The whole session was very difficult,” he said, citing the suicide of state auditor Tom Schweich and the John Diehl intern scandal that embroiled Jefferson City over the course of the session. “We got a lot done people don’t realize… but there’s been a lot of upset. I think the continuity from Todd and I provides a sort of a buffer. It helps us to stabilize things and just move forward,”
Cierpiot noted that in his time as the assistant majority floor leader, he had a handle on how to act in the office and noted that the position required the ability to compromise with people. He often worked on arranging amendments and working them into certain pieces of legislation, something that brought out the inner diplomat in him.
“As the assistant floor leader, he worked with us on all of our bills and what amendments we were looking to add,” Rep. Tony Dugger, R-Hartville, said. “So, he was very instrumental on working with me for amendments and the sort. He does have the experience as assistant floor leader, he’s also stepped into that position a few times… it takes a lot of patience, to work with every floor member. I think he has the ability to do that.”
The willingness to compromise, debate and understand different angles on various issues is something upon which Cierpiot prides himself. While he still sticks to his own moral code, he makes an effort not to dismiss the codes of others.
“Getting things done that are difficult, the complicated things… you have to be able to work with people and not get locked in on a position,” Cierpiot said. “I try to keep an open mind.”
That open mind indirectly led to him getting active in politics. Before Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1979, Cierpiot considered himself someone who kept an eye on the political system but one that chose not to take sides. The Gipper changed all that middle-of-the-road attitude.
“Reagan made me pick a team,” he said. “I picked a team and became a conservative.”
After Reagan reinvigorated Cierpiot’s belief in the political system and in government, he continued to become increasingly active in politics while working as a network engineer for AT&T.
In 1994, his wife Connie Cierpiot, by which he has two sons, successfully ran for the state House of Representatives and held the post from 1994 to 2002. After his wife won, Ciepiot got his first exposure to the world of Missouri politics.
“I got to meet a lot of politicians,” he said. “That’s when I realized that people who do this are not necessary uniquely talented, but they are hard working people.”
So, Cierpiot ran his own race in 2009 and won over Shere Alam. He has served in the House since his inauguration in 2010, and he has been the assistant majority floor leader
Dugger, a senior member of the house, says that Cierpiot has worked hard in his five years at the Capitol.
“He’s grown since he first came in and stepped into leadership a year or so ago,” he said. “I think he’s grown as a person and as a leader for our caucus. I think he would be great to work with, that’s not to take anything away from anyone else. I would be glad to work with Mike. I think he would make a great floor leader.”