By Ashley Jost
Jefferson City, Mo. — From his time spent knocking on doors in Florissant, Mo., to managing a budget of more than $3 billion and maintaining the credit rating of the State, Missouri Treasurer Clint Zweifel attributes his hard work and support system to not just political successes, but his happiness.
Never expecting to pursue a career in politics, Zweifel said he started out picking up positions on the City’s Planning and Zoning committee and as a trustee for his neighborhood, helping out where there were small needs that needed to be met.
“Politics is something that just came out of [wanting to help out],” he said. “There was always a larger sense of purpose to do something to make an impact on people’s lives.”
Zweifel, who has good rapport with his fellow Democrats, said he hopes he brings a sense of sincerity and clarity to his position, leaving no open questions as he tried to create and maintain one-on-one relationships with people.
Creating those relationships isn’t a matter of making someone more popular, he said, but rather making them a better representative.
“It’s very easy for politicians to fall into a trap of dividing Missourians into five or six regions and scoring points every time they go into each [area],” Zweifel said. “What’s the most popular thing to say, or what can they say in that region that will make them popular? We all know what those things are, but that’s not the way to unite Missourians, ultimately. You actually have to do something harder, which is find ways to unite people with a common purpose.”
When discussing the ways he goes about conversations with fellow Democrats, Zweifel said he’s always found it important to be upfront and honest with folks about issues that he believes in and cares about.
“The worst thing you can do is the textbook approach to politics where you take your emotions and feelings out of it,” he said.
Of the issues Zweifel discussed his passions for included the protection of unions and labor workers across the State.
A son and grandson of carpenters, he said seeing their hard work reaffirmed the importance for workers to have rights and access to improve their lives.
“Unions help them do that, and it’s important to have a government that respects that right,” he added.
One of the most important skill-sets Zweifel said he hopes people who represent learn to adopt is the quintessential ability to listen. He said throughout time, active listening is a skill that’s been lost in the shuffle of preparing for counter arguments for each conversation.
“Our success in this state isn’t going to be defined by a single piece of legislation or one policy speech or one piece of press that a person gets one day,” he added. “Our success is defined by trying to find ways to unite Missourians for a single purpose in growing our state. To me that’s the attractive piece about serving as State Treasurer and as a statewide official.”
Ashley Jost can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @ajost.
Ashley Jost is no longer with The Missouri Times. She worked as the executive editor for several months, and a reporter before that.