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story.lead_photo.caption Missouri State Sen. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane

Several Mid-Missouri lawmakers said Monday evening that Gov. Mike Parson's first speech to the Legislature was a good one.

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Parson became governor June 1, after now-former Gov. Eric Greitens resigned following five months of almost relentless pressure — and some criminal charges that later were dropped — about a 2015 extra-marital affair and about his campaign use of donor and email lists from a charity he helped form in 2007.

"(Parson) understands that he's in this position for an odd set of circumstances," Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, said. "He is willing to work with everybody involved, to continue Missouri on a good path."

Kehoe liked Parson's focus on the importance of legislative and government offices, "and how seriously we should take the office that we have, for the short time that we have it. He's right, and I think that's what we need to reflect on and keep that in mind as we go forward."

State Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, added: "When people come into these jobs, sometimes it's easy for them to lose sight of the real purpose for why they're here."

Barnes noted the House and Senate have rules that require lawmakers to address each other or refer to each other by their district numbers, or home cities or counties.

"When you first come here, you think it's silly or ridiculous," he explained. "The purpose of the rule is because we are not here as individuals (but) on behalf of the Missourians whom we represent.

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"We are only temporary occupants of the seats that we hold."

Barnes spent much of 2018 focused on chairing the House Special Investigative Committee on Oversight, that was formed to look into Greitens' legal situations.

However, he declined Monday to discuss that work, saying the state's focus for now should be on Parson's first steps in the governor's job.

"This was a joint (legislative) session called for the good purpose of having (the governor) address the General Assembly — and the public at-large," Barnes said, "to restore faith and the integrity of Missouri government, after a very trying time."

State Sen. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane, has been in the Legislature since starting in the House in 2009, and said Monday that Parson gave "a speech from the heart."

"I actually thought this was the best governor's speech I've heard since I've been here," Riddle said. "I love his message of unity.

"I believe he was motivational in the things that he said, not only to legislators, but to everybody."

Rep. Travis Fitzwater, R-Holts Summit, added: "I think it was a unifying message (that would) let us all move on.

"I think he covered everything most of us wanted to hear."

House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, said in a statement: "Through (Parson's) leadership, Missouri has a strong future ahead and will not miss a step in moving forward on its path of growth and prosperity for all Missourians."

Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, noted he's known, and worked with, Parson for 14 years.

"There is no one more prepared to take on this challenge," Richard said. "His strong dedication to agriculture and economic development will help us set the framework that will lead to a better quality of life for all Missourians."

Dan Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said in a news release: "It's time for Missouri to come together and work toward addressing the issues that will move our state forward.

"Gov. Mike Parson's remarks (Monday night) show that he is the right leader for this moment."

State Sen. Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff, said after Parson's speech: "I think we've got a governor (now) who really understands what's going on, not only in the rural areas, where he's from, but also he's wanting to learn more about the metropolitan areas.

"I think he's going to be good (and) be able to work with both sides of the (political) aisle."

State Rep. Sarah Walsh, R-Ashland, also noted Parson's focus on unity, "and also on the importance of us all coming together — that no one of us can do anything by ourselves, but we need to work together to make things happen for the people."

Walsh is pleased Parson is starting his administration by keeping the department heads that had been chosen by Greitens.

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"They've started to do such a good job and so much good work," she said, "that we're now starting to see the effects of all the things that they've started to get done."

Greitens brought Corrections Director Anne Precythe to Missouri from North Carolina.

She said after Parson's speech: "I'm looking forward to continuing to be a part of his team and focusing on the people of Missouri, connecting dots, focusing on the big picture, and making sure that our department is providing the best services for Missouri."

Transportation Director Patrick McKenna serves at the pleasure of the Highways and Transportation Commission, but still is a part of the governor's cabinet.

"I heard a governor who is ready to take charge and move Missouri forward — unifying, working with the Legislature and working with agencies for the benefit of Missouri citizens," McKenna said. "I thought I heard some pretty clear instructions — and it's time to get to work."

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