Steve Hobbs is drawing on nearly two decades of experience in public service as he prepares to take the helm of the Missouri Association of Counties (MAC) next month.
Hobbs’ appointment as MAC’s next executive director was approved by the association’s executive board last week, giving him a month to prepare for his Sept. 15 start date. He serves as Audrain County’s presiding commissioner, a role he took on in 2011.
Hobbs began his career in public service in the General Assembly, representing Audrain, Boone, Monroe, and Callaway counties in the statehouse from 2003-2011. When faced with term limits in the lower chamber, he was encouraged by then-Presiding Commissioner Richard Webber to succeed him on the commission rather than vie for a state Senate seat. Hobbs chose that option to remain closer to home to be with his family.
Now in his third term, Hobbs said he couldn’t be happier with that decision.
“I’ve enjoyed county government more than anything I’ve ever been involved with,” Hobbs told The Missouri Times. “Working with the people is so great, and you just get a great chance to impact them at the local level. I think we’ve done some great things here and built great relationships with the communities that we work with.”
Hobbs pointed to several accomplishments throughout his time serving Audrain County, from managing its budget to building relationships with local communities.
One of his personal highlights was bettering the community without raising costs for residents: By managing the county’s budget and building up its reserves, the commission was able to provide the historic courthouse with a new roof, elevator, and sidewalks while also renovating the county jail — a pair of multi-million dollar projects undertaken without the need to ask voters for additional funding, he said.
“I have enjoyed the working relationship the Sheriff’s Office has had with the county commission and Commissioner Hobbs over the years and wish him well in his new role as the executive director of the Missouri Association of Counties,” Audrain County Sheriff Matt Oller said.
Hobbs led the commission through policy changes as well. The county and its cities proposed identical use taxes on the ballot last summer and each passed with about 70 percent of the vote, an admirable feat during a pandemic when door-to-door public outreach and traditional campaign tactics were hampered.
“We weren’t able to go out and talk about it, but the businesses in these communities knew this was a Main Street fairness act and people responded to it,” he said. “I’m extremely proud of that and the way the county and cities worked together to make sure voters knew how important this was.”
Hobbs is no stranger to working with other counties, either. He has served on MAC’s Board of Directors since 2017 and completed a stint as chair of the County Commissioners Association of Missouri.
A lifelong farmer, Hobbs also has various connections in agriculture. He’s a member of the Missouri Farm Bureau, the Missouri Beef Cattle Council, and the Missouri Soybean Association and is the former president of the Beef Advisory Board and Audrain County Cattlemen’s Board. His stake in multiple organizations and his tenure as a legislator gave him a hefty Rolodex, an asset he expects to put to good use in his new role.
“I’ve been blessed to have made a lot of contacts in the Missouri Capitol and on the federal level. When counties or people in the community have a question, we know where to go to get the answer for them,” Hobbs said. “Sometimes the most important thing is knowing who to talk to to get the answers you need.”
Hobbs will step into the role left vacant by Dick Burke, who left the position after 22 years. Hobbs praised his predecessor’s long career and willingness to lend a hand, even as he settles into retirement.
“I have some tremendous shoes to fill,” he said. “There’s a tremendous void that’s left in the association, but he’s been so gracious and congratulatory. He’s offered to help whenever he can and we couldn’t ask for anything more than that.”
Hobbs was chosen for the position after an extensive selection process. Several qualified candidates threw their hats in the ring, and MAC President Susette Taylor said the board found the best person to carry the torch in Hobbs.
“Steve brings a wealth of knowledge to the position from his time serving as a state representative and presiding commissioner of Audrain County. He has served these past few years as an officer in the association and has the utmost respect of elected officials at the federal, state, and local levels of government,” Taylor said. “I am confident he will grow our association and strengthen our resolve in bettering the communities that our members represent.”
With less than a month to go before officially taking his position, Hobbs is looking forward to leading the association into a new era.
“We’ve got an executive board that wants to accomplish a lot of things, so it’s going to be very busy going into this,” he said. “I’m excited about this opportunity and the chance to bring everything I’ve learned with me into this next chapter.”
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 email@example.com.