JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — As the Missouri Senate debated a controversial redistricting bill Tuesday afternoon, Pattie Parris sat in the top row of the gallery near a set of heavy brown doors, intently peering down at the floor.
Parris, a Senate doorkeeper, has had a front row to Missouri history for quite some time.
Having spent nearly four decades working in the state Capitol, Parris has served under former Auditor Margaret Kelly, the first woman to hold a statewide office in Missouri, and former House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, the only woman elected to that position. She has also worked for Ron Richard, the first Missouri lawmaker to serve as both House Speaker and Pro Tem of the Senate.
But Parris has a “first” of her own. One year ago, she solidified her spot in the annals of Missouri history as the only woman to have served as a doorkeeper in the General Assembly.
“Pattie is an outstanding professional with an unquestionable work ethic,” state Sen. Gina Walsh said at the time.
One year later, Walsh told The Missouri Times: “I had the pleasure of working with Pattie when she worked in the Pro Tem office. Always professional. She is a good person, and I am happy to see she is not finished with public service.”
Parris got her start in state government working with the Auditor’s Office in the Truman Building, eventually working for former Gov. Matt Blunt. But — like many in Jefferson City can attest — politics “got to be in [her] blood,” and she was hooked, too ingrained in the goings on of the Capitol building to fully retire. So she became a Senate doorkeeper.
“It’s very exciting, I like to listen to the legislation [being debated] and go to committees and hear the bills being introduced,” Parris told The Missouri Times.
As the doorkeepers — often quietly — take care of the upper chamber and their staff, it can mean long days and nights during the legislative session. In fact, Parris said she was at the Capitol until 6 a.m. on what was just her second day on the job.
“It gets long, but it’s interesting, and I like the process,” she said.
Parris has nothing but praise for those who work in the Capitol — and the actual building as well.
“We just take it for granted that we come into this building, and it’s absolutely gorgeous, and there’s so much history here,” Parris said. “And of course, the people are great to work for, too. I’ve really enjoyed getting to work with everybody.”
“Many elected officials, staffers, and visitors have walked through those doors,” Parris said. “I would usually take the time to chat with them. Sometimes we talked about the weather. Other times, it was about the important piece of legislation set to hit the floor that evening. No matter the topic, I always learned something from every person who came through the door.”
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.