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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Rep. Michael Burton, a former Broadway cast member and professional actor, has landed a role in the Missouri statehouse.
Burton believes that his background as an actor has prepared him for the legislature by teaching him persistence.
“You want to get a part and you’re told no, which is disappointing, but as an actor, going to so many auditions you learn to accept it and then you move on to the next day and you fight again. It’s kind of similar to here, especially being in the super minority,” Burton told The Missouri Times.
Three years ago, Burton never pictured himself in politics, but everything changed when Burton learned the largest housing developer in Missouri was attempting to tear down Tower Tee Golf in St. Louis County.
As a child, Burton went to Tower Tee with his father and was very passionate about preserving the 55-year-old family entertainment center. The Democratic representative began making phone calls and attending county council meetings in addition to printing and selling yard signs.
“It was so pivotal for the community for Tower Tee to stay there so I started to fight for it. I thought it would last maybe two, three, or four months or something like that, and then it lasted 18 months,” Burton said.
Burton’s efforts resulted in victory in more ways than one: Tower Tee was saved, and he became a well-known advocate for his community.
“Fighting for Tower Tee is kind of what got me here, and now the community knows me, and they know that I care about the community, and I fight for the people,” Burton said.
Even after winning the battle over Tower Tee, Burton still wasn’t certain a career in politics was the right path for him. But Burton was asked by his predecessor, Sen. Doug Beck, to run for HD 92, and it took some cajoling from his childhood best friend before he was on board.
“After a few months of doing research I realized I can complain on social media all that I want, and now I actually have the opportunity to actually make the change and be the change,” Burton said. “How can I turn that down?”
Burton represents HD 92, which includes part of St. Louis County, and has lived in his district for more than 20 years. He said his district is both a working-class and family-oriented community.
Burton has filed five bills, but he is dedicating the majority of his focus to HB 941 because decreasing property taxes for senior citizens and the disabled is a priority for his constituents. The bill was second read in January but not referred to a committee.
“Democrats don’t always get a lot through here, but if I can get that through for my constituents I’ll be happy, very happy,” Burton said.
Burton draws inspiration from his mother, doting on her as the most hardworking and selfless person he knows. Burton also said that is motivated by taking in the nature around him during his morning runs.
“What I do to kind of inspire me in the morning is I go for a run in different directions from my home, and I just take in all the nature around me and take lots of pictures,” Burton said.
Burton serves on the Conservation and Natural Resources Committee and the Rural Community Development Committee as well as the Special Committee on Small Business.
Elise Eaker studies journalism at Lincoln University. Prior to Lincoln, Elise graduated from Fulton High School. She is a native of Fulton.