The Missouri Times is speaking to new lawmakers this session. Get to know more of the “Freshmen to Watch” here.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — After more than three decades serving his community in and out of the classroom, Rep. Willard Haley is bringing his sense of community and leadership to the statehouse this session.
Haley worked for the Eldon School District for 32 years, teaching agriculture for two and a half decades before going on to head the Eldon Career Center for the remainder of his educational career. Haley said he remained involved with his community and had been urged to run by his predecessor.
“Upon retirement, I was content in serving the community in various roles: I was the Chamber of Commerce president, I had been president of the Miller County Fair Board, I’ve been heavily involved in my church,” he told The Missouri Times. “I was very involved, but pretty stress-free. Rep. David Wood came to me and said I was his choice to replace him when he termed out, and after considering my educational background and community involvement, it seemed like all my experiences had prepared me for a role I had yet to accept.”
Haley said he served on a long-term disaster relief committee between Cole and Miller counties after a tornado tore through his district in 2019, leading to multiple new connections with state agencies and valuable leadership experience.
The Eldon Republican said his community shared a diverse set of concerns: Miller, Moniteau, and Morgan counties are neighbors to the Lake of the Ozarks area, leading to tourism considerations in his district. Agriculture and farm work is another focus of the area, and Haley said he was happy to serve on the Agriculture Policy and Workforce Development committees to work on legislation that would impact his community.
“My priority is to help the people of District 58,” he said. “I have received an abundance of contacts from constituents. It’s not about my will necessarily, it’s their will and what they want to see done, so I’m trying to represent them the best that I can. There are topics brought up that I’m not that knowledgeable in that they are informing me about, and I have a great network of individuals I can go to for opinions, information, or support.”
Haley said he was surprised by the fast pace and the breadth of work he faced in his position but said he was up for the challenge to continue serving the interests of his community in the General Assembly.
“I’m trying my best to meet the needs of my district,” he said. “You hear that all the time, but that’s truly what I’m here for, to help watch out for regulations that might hurt our area. I don’t want all the money going to one part of the state. I want to make sure our roads, our bridges, our community can be taken care of.”
Cameron Gerber studied journalism at Lincoln University. Prior to Lincoln, he earned an associate’s degree from State Fair Community College. Cameron is a native of Eldon, Missouri.
Contact Cameron at firstname.lastname@example.org.