The Missouri Times is speaking to new lawmakers this session. Get to know more of the “Freshmen to Watch” here.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Before joining the General Assembly, Rep. Kurtis Gregory made a name for himself as an athlete and farmer.
Gregory said his interest in the statehouse was piqued during college, and the beauty and complexity of the Capitol building itself was the first thing that caught his eye.
“I played football at the University of Missouri from 2005 to 2009, and I would almost venture to say without that there’s no chance I would be here. I got to meet lots of different people and have different conversations,” Gregory told The Missouri Times. “After bowl games, we would come down and see the Capitol, and seeing the building at an age where you can really appreciate it made me start thinking this place was pretty interesting.”
After college he spent time on the board for the Missouri Corn Growers Association, where he learned more about policy and lobbying. He’s also a member of the Saline County Farm Bureau and the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association. With that policy experience behind him, Gregory saw the opportunity to make his bid for office when the HD 51 seat came up for grabs last year.
“I had it in the back of my mind that I would do it at some point, and it just happened that Dean Dohrman was terming out, and I got a couple of phone calls,” he said. “Timing is everything. I thought ‘why not now?’ I wanted to go for it while I had the energy for the job.”
Gregory is also a full-time farmer, managing 1,100 acres of corn and soybeans with his family. He said maintaining and improving the state’s agriculture industry was a priority of his time in the statehouse.
“With agriculture being the number one industry in the state, I just want to try to make it as strong as it can be,” he said.
Of the agricultural measures in the legislature this year, he said he would be looking at meatpacking facility capacity and biodiesel regulations with keen interest.
“I want to make agriculture strong, whether it’s an idea that I come up with or if it’s someone else, I’m going to be there to get behind them,” he said. “I just want Missouri to be a great state that people want to come to live in, and whatever we can do to make that happen is what I’m going to get behind.”
Gregory said he’d been prepped for the job by former Rep. Dave Muntzel, but the pace of the building was still a big adjustment.
“Even though we’re not moving fast on a lot of stuff, the speed at which some things move is crazy,” he said. “Learning has been my focus this year; I want to sit back and learn and take it all in. The old saying goes ‘the good Lord gave you two ears and one mouth, so keep your mouth shut and listen,’ and I’m trying to do a lot of listening this year.”