JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - One week ago Eric Greitens was the Governor of Missouri. But after his resignation, Lt. Governor Mike Parson was sworn into office. Today Governor Parson gave our David Oliver one of his first interviews since taking the oath of office. David is inside the Capital in Jefferson City.
It's been a whirlwind week for Governor Mike Parson. He spent his first night in the Governors Mansion on Sunday and he's been busy appointing Cabinet members and meeting with various state and local leaders. I had to ask him about the unexpected phone call last week--informing him that Governor Greitens would step down and that he would become Missouri's Chief Executive.
Parson: One I was at home actually on my farm in Bolivar. We were out working it was a normal day. We received a call about what was going to take place that day. And I think at that point the reality of what was going to happen and so we needed to come back to Jefferson City. So I called my wife she was in Springfield, asked her to come home and said we need to get ready to go to Jefferson City
David: A lot of people would say that our political divide is sharper than ever. That we have in fact been through a tumultuous time. So what specifically will you be doing to help our state heal?
Parson: I don't care whether you're a politician an individual person or a business person at the end of the day it's about relationships. And you have to build those relationships. It's fortunate for me that over the years I've developed a lot of relationships with people here in Jefferson City and across the state of Missouri, both Democrat and Republican. if you take politics off to the side for a minute you know building those relationships and working with people over the years it's a good way to start, it's a good way to heal.
David: your predecessor was not known for getting along with members of his own party or necessarily with the legislature. How do you plan to be different in terms of that?
Parson: well you know I think you reach out. Number one I think you humble yourself and you ask for help you say look where at a time in the state of Missouri that's historical for what's happened. But it's important for me that we can work together for the betterment of Missouri. And there is a lot of things coming up in our state that I think there are some huge opportunities. When you start talking about infrastructure, when you start talking about skilled workforce. Jobs in the state. Those two things everybody agrees on and I think those are the things we start talking about those are the important things to every day people out there. Those of the things that they feel is important.
Governor Parson says he has not spoken with Governor Greitens since he announced his resignation but did tell me former First Lady Sheena Greitens reached out to his wife Teresa on the telephone. Parson says he plans to look over the 77 bills signed into law last Friday by the outgoing Governor. And Parson says moving forward his number one priority is....healing for Missouri.
Governor Mike Parson says he was on his family farm in Polk County last week when he got the phone call informing him that he would be the next Governor of the State of Missouri. Parson says he has not spoken to Former Governor Eric Greitens....although Sheena Greitens did reach out to new First Lady Teresa Parson by phone.
Today he shared with us his current number one priority for the state.
Parson: right now the number one priority is just healing Missouri. Making sure everybody gets back on the same page. And we get the government working like it should be working. I think that is the number one priority. I think when the legislative session comes around we're gonna be talking about jobs, infrastructure. But right now I think it's important for the governor to set the example I think it's important to be transparent.
David. Lawmakers this last session sent more than 140 bills to governor greatens. He signed 77 of those bills on his final day in office. Where there any bills that were sent to this office prior to you taking over that you planted outside as governor?
Parson: you know we were a little surprised at that many bills being signed in one day. I think the biggest challenge for us right now is to make sure that those bills were all correct that they were all vetted well and I think we need to take a second look at that to make sure that that's done correctly. There's some more bills that we know we will be signing.
David: now that you have been elevated to the governorship of our state, our state constitution outlines the successorship if you well, which also says the governors office cannot appoint a lieutenant governor. But you have talked about perhaps calling a special session for that issue. Why do you feel strongly about that?
Parson: I think the lieutenant governor has an important role to play. And if there was ever a time to have a lieutenant governor it's now. Just for the stability of our state. And I think right now regardless of who that lieutenant governor is I am to utilize that position much more than it has been in the past. And it should be much more utilized by governors.
Parson says he did not have a close working relationship with Former Governor Eric Greitens, although he did reach out and try to make that happen. Parson told me that legislatively he wants to focus on infrastructure and jobs, and he looks forward to missourians getting a chance to vote on a potential gas tax that could help with infrastructure needs. He also told me he wants to make lowering crime rates state wide a priority of his new administration.
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