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Our Opinion: Welcoming Missouri's 57th governor

Our Opinion: Welcoming Missouri's 57th governor

June 5th, 2018 by News Tribune in Opinion

Shortly after Mike Parson took the oath of office Friday to become Missouri's 57th governor, he said a few words that imparted a lot of meaning.

"Public service is a privilege," he said in a short speech. "My pledge to all Missourians is to work hard each and every day — to bring honor, integrity and transparency to the governor's office."

Well said.

We wish our new governor well. And although he's taking helm of an office he has wanted but opted not to seek, we believe he's the right person for the job right now.

Parson, 62, was born in Hickory County, about 90 minutes southwest of Jefferson City. He was raised on a farm, and now runs his own farm in Bolivar.

As we reported last week, he was moving cattle Tuesday when he found out Greitens was resigning.

He's served in the Army and for 16 years was Polk County sheriff for 12 years.

Parson's pastor in Bolivar, Billy Russell, said during a prayer service Friday, before the swearing-in ceremony, that he was struck by "how concerned (Parson) was about his people, how they were serving the citizens of Polk County and how he could make sure that they remained as healthy and as vibrant as they could."

Parson, a conservative, started his state political career in 2004, and has served three terms in the House and two terms in the Senate, leaving in the middle of his second Senate term when he became lieutenant governor in January 2017.

In a story we published May 27, Bolivar Herald-Free Press Publisher Dave Berry described Parson as a traditional, old-type sheriff.

"He never has been afraid of work," Berry said. "He's a common fella. Down to earth. What you see is what you get."

As sheriff, Parson hired good people to work for him, and built relationships within his county, Berry said. Likewise, he's known to working with both sides of the political aisle, he said.

Not everyone gives Parson a glowing review. Stephen Webber, the chair of the Missouri Democratic Party, criticized him for not speaking out against dark money and "for a woman who the Republican legislature believes was sexually assaulted," the Kansas City Star reported.

The Star and St. Louis Post-Dispatch also reported Parson's former chief of staff has accused him of having a weak understanding of the issues and going on tirades against members of his staff as a senator.

Former state Rep. Bubs Hohulin, R-Lamar — who also had worked for the late Carl Vogel, R-Jefferson City, when Vogel was in the state Senate — posted his complaints on Facebook in 2016, and made commercials for Parson's 2016 election opponent, Democrat Russ Carnahan.

Generally, however, Parson has earned a solid reputation in the past. However, like him, we'd prefer to focus more on the future. He put it best after being sworn in as governor: "We have an opportunity, beginning today, to have a fresh start in state government."