New governor backed by hometown community
BOLIVAR - Cattle farmer, businessman, sheriff, representative, senator, lieutenant governor and now governor. The highest position in the state is the latest title for Mike Parson to add to his long list of jobs over the years.
Originally from Wheatland and now residing in Bolivar, Parson has gained the attention of the nation after Eric Greintens' resignation, announced earlier this week.
The people of Bolivar all echo the same sentiments about the "simple man" from the small farming community; they say he’s an honest man with integrity who will serve the state of Missouri well.
“By and large, they are going to tell you that he’s a special kind of guy, really,” said former Bolivar County Clerk Bill Kallenbach. “He’s got his own community of support and it’s going to spread.”
Parson won 110 of Missouri’s 114 counties while running for lieutenant governor, the most of any candidate in state history.
“He’s a good people person,” Kallenbach said. “He works well with people and he can relate to people and their needs.”
As an advocate for agriculture, Parson has won the hearts of the people that share a place to call home.
“Our whole county is based on what agriculture does,” Kallenbach said. “We need someone to represent that interest. Mike Parson can do that.”
Parson's background in law enforcement is also viewed as an asset by many.
“When you’re in law enforcement, you’re ready for anything. You never know what you are going to do next,” said retired highway patrolman George Janzevovich. “I think this will be simpler, probably, than a lot of things he handled in law enforcement.”
Janzevovich met Parson while the now-governor was running for Polk County Sheriff. Janzevovich didn’t vote vote for Parson in that election, but ever since Janzevovich has been loyal to him.
“I told him I’d vote for him in the future for anything he was doing because he was the best sheriff I ever worked with,” Janzevovich said.
He said Parson will transition into his new role seamlessly.
“Whatever needs to be done, it will be done under him efficiently,” Janzevovich said. “It will be something that’s necessary.”
Dave Berry, the publisher of the Bolivar Herald Free Press, said the change in leadership will mean a change in culture within the governor’s office.
“He’s an awful lot of what his predecessor wasn’t,” Berry said. “He’s a bridge builder. He’s got a very good knack of making friends and building bridges.”
This could mean a more cooperative legislature for the coming legislative session, observers say.
“He might not be as far right as people want him to be and the people on the left probably shouldn’t celebrate too much about the fact that he’s willing to do what others haven’t been, and that’s to reach across the aisle,” Berry said.
Parson became part of the Missouri Legislature in 2005 and the people of Polk County have been keeping an eye on him ever since.
“Everything he’s done so far indicates that he’s solid,” Berry said. “He is who he appears to be.”