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Rob Vescovo: Cutting red tape, growing the majority

  

How Missouri’s House Majority Floor Leader balances being an open door member of leadership with being a father of five and a terrible hunter

Father-of-five Rob Vescovo believes being a member of the Missouri House of Representatives, and holding the post of Majority Floor Leader within that body, has helped sculpted him into a better father.

The junior lawmaker pointed to a greater appreciation of how everyone is different, as one example. He noted, that while he has always believed that everyone has different temperaments, talents, and conventions being a member of the General Assembly has driven home the point that everyone is different and everyone’s district is different.

Vescovo has taken that perspective and applied it to his five children. Just like he can’t take the same approach with every lawmaker, he can’t treat every one of his children the same. 

“I can be hard-headed at times, but I do listen,” said the Jefferson County transplant who currently resides in Arnold, Missouri. 

Always listening to folks has served Vescovo well. In the House, he has gained a reputation for being a straight shooter, if a little blunt. 

“Rob places the highest value on integrity, duty and is an example of living up to his own high standards in all areas of his life. From his devotion to his family, district, the entire chamber, and state,” said Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman. 

Being completely honest is always the best policy, notes Vescovo. A person’s word is everything in forming relationships, working with others, and just living life. 

“You can’t go back in on your word in life or in politics,” said Vescovo. “Your word is everything. If you tell someone you are with them, you need to be with them. If you tell someone you are not with them then let them earn your support. If you are undecided, and you are truly undecided, tell them you are undecided.”

The honesty policy has played a part into his role as the Majority Floor Leader for the House, a position he first took up for the 2018 session. And in that leadership position within the Republican Caucus, Vescovo has taken a firm, no-nonsense approach while attempting to keep an open mind and an open door.

“Since his election to majority floor leader, Rob Vescovo has displayed qualities that has not only impressed me but has convinced me the caucus chose a person that can be counted on in the future as a loyal leader in the Republican Party. He has earned the respect of our caucus and constituents,” Rep. Chuck Basye previously told the Missouri Times.

Rob Vescovo

Consistently advocating for measures to “make government smarter, not bigger,” Vescovo has been given a 100 percent rating by the National Federal of Independent Business and a 92 percent rating by the American Conservative Union. 

Vescovo has focused on four distinct areas in his role as a lawmaker: eliminating waste and fraud in the government, investing in a 21st-century workforce, helping businesses grow and succeed, and defending the rights given in the constitution. 

He first got into politics because he noticed that the government was not listening to the needs of the businesses

“I saw a lot of red tape where there didn’t need to be red tape. I saw a lot of government intrusion where there didn’t need to be government intrusion. I saw the administration at the time enacting laws that were hurting small businesses instead of helping small businesses,” said Vescovo.

The self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur noted that it was disheartening to see the government’s actions when many small business owners put countless hours and hard work into their business, they put days and weeks and years into building their businesses. 

“I didn’t want to be the person that sat on the couch and bitched at the tv, I wanted to be the person that I am, which is to get up and do something about it,” said Vescovo. “Not just complain but to try and put actions or ideas into motion.” 

So, Vescovo ran to represent his district in the General Assembly for the first time in 2014 and won the election. He has since been re-elected in 2016 and 2018. 

It was not until he was on the floor of the Missouri House chamber for the first time after being elected, sitting in a chair, that the full weight of his new role hit him. It was in that moment that he comprehend just what it meant to represent his community in the General Assembly.

It’s a moment he will never forget.

“Sitting in the chamber, it was a fantastic moment. It was a realization and an honor that people placed their faith in you to represent them. Not just to represent them, but to be the link between the people and the government,” said Vescovo. 

As lawmaker it is his job to continue moving Missouri forward, to be the voice of the roughly 36,000 people in his district, and work to pass legislation that is to the betterment of all Missourians and the state itself. 

It’s a job he has worked tirelessly at since being elected to public office. And in combination with a family, business interests, and hobbies finding a balance between everything takes determination.

“My day is constantly busy,” said Vescovo. He notes that he finds a balance between everything in his life by setting goals every day and working to achieve them.

He also credits his wife Amanda with his ability to manage everything. Vescovo notes that there are some family duties she takes over in their family and there are some job duties he takes over in the family.

“My wife is a saint,” said Vescovo. 

The Southeast Missouri State University student met his wife while on Thanksgiving break in college. Fast forward two decades and they have five kids together with the oldest just hitting his teenage years. 

While all his children know what Vescovo’s part-time job is, not only fully comprehend just what being a lawmaker means. He said that his 13- and 9-year-old children do understand while his 8-year-old is just starting to grasp the meaning of his job and the youngest two don’t understand just yet. 

Vescovo noted that his children know what days he will be home and what days he will be gone. From January to May, he will be in Jefferson City Monday through Thursday and in Arnold Friday through Sunday. 

They have also joined him in the Capitol, running the halls and sliding on the floors. 

“It’s weird, my children meet other politicians and they don’t think twice about it, it is nothing surprising to them, I think because their dad is one,” said Vescovo. “My children have met several governors, the speaker, and hundreds of representatives.”

He said it was too early to tell if, between his daughter and four sons, he had any future politicians in the family. Though his children have started to develop their own feelings on politics and politicians. 

“If my daughter does decide to get in politics, they better watch out. If any of them do, because they are well versed already,” said Vescovo.

Part of balancing being a father and being a lawmaker is engaging with his family and bonding through experiences. One activity that helps the Vescovo family connect is hunting. 

“Hunting is more than hunting, it is bonding with other people, it is connecting with other people. Sitting around the campfire and exchanging stories and business ideas. It is talking with my children and talking about what they want to be when they grow up, letting them know they can be anything they want to be when they grow up,” said Vescovo. 

The first hunter in his family, Vescovo took up the sport nearly a decade ago. Following back surgery that prevented him from continuing to play soccer, he needed another activity. A friend of his invited him hunting and he enjoyed the experience coupled with the outdoors, thus he opted to engage in the activity. 

The Vescovo family goes hunting for a multitude of reasons beyond who can get the best catch.

“I like hunting but I am a terrible hunter,” said Vescovo, who notes his children also will not be winning awards in the sport just yet. “We go for the company and camaraderie. It gets them outdoors and to experience more than just video games and school work. I want to have a bond with them and talk about things that they like and, you know, teach them things about nature some kids don’t get to experience.”

This piece is featured as part of the Missouri Times’ Best of the Legislature 2018 appearing in the January 2019 Missouri Times Magazine.