JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Mike Parson told lawmakers Monday it is time to move past the difficulties that led to the resignation of his predecessor, former Gov. Eric Greitens.
“Today is a time for a fresh start for our state and to recommit ourselves,” he said. “We must work together for a better Missouri.”
In a speech before the legislature, Parson said the people holding public office need to remember key truths: the importance of taking responsibility for their own actions and of remembering they serve the people and the state of Missouri.
"Sadly, much of the political turmoil that has engulfed our state is a result of these truths being forgotten," Parson said.
It was a reference to the two scandals that embroiled Greitens' during his time in office. The former governor at one point faced two felony charges in different cases. One stemmed from blackmail allegations and the other from accusations of campaign finance violations.
Parson said it is "time for a fresh start."
"We faced difficult truths; we made tough decisions; we persevered because our institutions are strong, and the people of Missouri are stronger," he said.
Much of Parson's address centered on the need for lawmakers to focus on the people who voted for them. He said what the legislature does matters.
"It matters to the student and the teacher. It matters to the truck driver and the small business owner. It matters to the police officer and the prisoner. It matters to the worker and the employer. It matters to the nurse and the farmer. But it’s not just the votes you cast or the bills that are signed; it’s how we respect the institution that has temporarily been entrusted to our care," he said.
Parson invited legislators to debate with respect, without necessarily disregarding their beliefs or moderating their position. But he said future generations will make no partisan distinction when remembering the work of elected officials.
“Future Missourians may look back at the journals of the House or the Senate from this legislative session, and they will see our names,” he said. “They will know our party affiliations, they will see the votes we cast, but none of these things will define who we are.”
Some representatives in attendance of Parson’s address believe in Parson’s promise of a “fresh start.”
“I was proud of our governor for standing up there. It’s been a difficult time for our state but today is the first day of the new beginning,” said Rep. Mark Matthiesen, R-Maryland Heights.
The House Minority Leader, Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City, also thought Parson touched on the right points in his address.
“I think it’s where we needed to go for today, given what the legislature has been through over the past, say, four months. I think our new governor has done a lot to try and reconcile both sides of the aisle.”
After the speech, House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, said Parson made it clear how important it is for the legislature to focus on serving the people of Missouri and how committed he is to restoring the trust of the people.
"Through his 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," Richardson said.
Attorney General Josh Hawley, who was one of Greitens' chief detractors, said Parson did a "great job" in his speech.
"He will be a great governor for Missouri,” Hawley said. “I welcome his leadership in Jefferson City and look forward to working with him for the betterment of Missouri.”
Parson finished his address with a promise.
“I pledge that I will spend every day working to make our state stronger and more prosperous,” he said. “I promise that the welfare of the people will be my guiding principle and sole consideration. And I will never forget, never forget, that public service is, first and foremost, about serving Missourians.