The Missouri Times is speaking to new lawmakers this session. Get to know more of the “Freshmen to Watch” here.
Lewis has dedicated his life to education. Prior to being elected, Lewis taught chemistry and physics for 33 years. Lewis even moved to Moberly, which he represents, 17 years ago to take a teaching position.
“I got my undergraduate at MU in chemistry education to become a chemistry teacher, and then I got my masters in analytical chemistry four years later,” Lewis said. “I’ve been in Moberly for [about 17 years] at this point. [I] moved there from Vandalia. I moved there to take a teaching position.”
Lewis said he has always had an interest in politics and governmental affairs. Whenever former Rep. Tim Remole came to the end of his term, Lewis began to assess the qualities he wanted the representative for his district to have.
“I wanted someone who was a conservative voice, a person who wasn’t necessarily the richest person, wasn’t necessarily a political insider — as I’m neither of those,” Lewis said. “I thought that they needed someone like myself, someone who would really advocate for education for everybody in the state. I mean, I want to advocate for education in my district, but I also want to advocate for education for every student in the state.”
Lewis defeated his Democratic opponent in the election for HD 6 by a landslide. Lewis said while all education issues are of interest to him, his main focus this year will be the Appropriations subcommittee on education. Of the 60 hours he’s already spent in the legislature, he said about 45 have been dedicated to the budget process; aside from appropriations, Lewis also sits on the Budget Committee.
“It’s really time-consuming and it takes all of your energy and attention, and it’s important because, I mean, nothing happens without the money,” he said. “Budgeting will end up being my main emphasis this year, and maybe next year.”
Lewis wants to be known for being responsive to his constituents and making sure they know their voices are being heard. Lewis told The Missouri Times that he makes it a point to respond to all of the emails and letters he receives and said he finds compassionate work to be the most rewarding thus far.
“I definitely want people to know that they can contact me and that I will listen and get things done. I had a constituent in a correctional facility; he was incarcerated, but he was dying. Someone contacted me and said, ‘Can you ask the governor for a medical parole because he only has days to live?’ We were able to get that done. I don’t know how much of an effect my letter and my phone call had in that, but he got out and had 10 days with his mom, and then he passed.”
“We’re all for law and order, but we also have compassion,” he continued. “Those things have been the most rewarding so far.”
The Republican freshman has also been assigned to the Rural Development, Utilities, and Workforce Development committees.