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Gov. Parson meets with mayors, continues hiring staff

Gov. Mike Parson met Tuesday with several mayors from across Missouri, including Florissant and St. Peters, as part of the transition into his new job.

He called it the first in a series of meetings with mayors, in which he said he wants his office to provide whatever help or assistance cities and towns may need.

“How do we come up with a plan to fix things? How do we come up with a plan to deal with the crime rates in the state of Missouri?” he told reporters after the meeting. “We’ve got to figure that out, because none of us want these crime rates to keep going up – [and with] 22 years in law enforcement, that’s a big issue to me.”

Parson served as an MP in the Army and spent 12 years as Polk County sheriff before being elected to the Legislature and then lieutenant governor. He succeeded Eric Greitens as Missouri governor on Friday.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James, who was at Tuesday’s meeting, called it productive.

“What he said to us, he sounded more like a mayor, and I happen to love mayors, because mayors are good people, and they get things done,” James said. “Working together, advocating good policy, having civil conversations about what moves our city and therefore our state forward, and working with a governor who wants to work with us.”

One issue they talked about was upgrading transportation infrastructure, with the mayors voicing support for raising Missouri’s fuel tax this November.

“We have so many stakeholders behind us,” said Florissant mayor Tom Schneider. “Having the main stakeholder, the governor, behind us, we’re going to get this passed in November.”

Parson didn’t exactly endorse it, but he indicated that he would support it if the majority of voters do so as well.

“I’m going to be supporting infrastructure in the state of Missouri, and yes, if that’s part of the infrastructure plan, then we’re going to be supporting infrastructure in the state,” he told reporters. “We cannot keep kicking that can down the road.”

The other mayors who met with Parson on Tuesday were Kathy Rose of Riverside, Brian Treece of Columbia, Len Pagano of St. Peters, Karen Best of Branson, and Carrie Tergin of Jefferson City. He plans to meet with St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson.

Parson’s office also announced more staffing hires in a written statement issued late Tuesday. Marylyn Luetkemeyer will serve as executive assistant to the governor, Robert Knodell as deputy chief of staff, and Kelli Jones was officially announced as press secretary.

The new governor also met briefly with legislative leaders ahead of a joint address he’s scheduled to deliver on Monday. An exact time hasn’t been set.

Follow Marshall on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

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Marshall Griffin is the Statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.
Marshall Griffin
St. Louis Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a native of Mississippi and proud alumnus of Ole Miss (welcome to the SEC, Mizzou!). He has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off an old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Liberty Belle, and their cat, Honey.
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