It is hard to believe eight years have passed since I wrote my first Capitol Report, appropriately titled “’Hello’ from Your New State Senator.” In what seems like the blink of an eye, I have gone from being sworn in for my first term as a state representative to packing up my office in our beautiful Capitol. Bittersweet is the word often used to describe how it feels when life’s great experiences come to an end. And it is the word that now comes to mind as I reflect on my 14 years in the Missouri General Assembly and write my final weekly column as your state senator.
With more than a decade of work to consider, it is difficult to remember everything that has happened. As far as the numbers go, I have cast roughly 29,000 votes and helped craft state budgets totaling $336 billion. Of course, numbers only tell a small fraction of the story. There are many efforts I am especially proud to have been a part of, and even more great men and women I have been privileged to work alongside in the service of our state and its citizens.
Working to improve Missouri’s public schools, colleges and universities — in particular the University of Central Missouri (UCM), Missouri Valley College, Central Methodist University and Wentworth Military Academy and College — has been a focal point of my public service career. In 2009, the Legislature funded over $13 million to complete a massive renovation to UCM’s Morrow-Garrison buildings. That same year, I was honored to be appointed chairman of the Senate Education Committee, a position I have held since. In 2015, we authorized appropriations of more than $12.2 million for repairs and renovations to UCM’s W.C. Morris Science Building, which had not seen any major renovations since it was built in 1968. We have also worked to ease the transition of students moving from two-year to four-year colleges.
In addition to education, I have advocated for Missouri’s military community, our agricultural producers and passenger rail service. I have also aimed to improve mental health care in Missouri by working to secure funding for our mental health hospitals and sponsoring legislation that requires insurance companies to provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders. While almost every public servant leaves office with items still on their to-do list, I am proud of what my colleagues and I have been able to accomplish for the men, women and children of Missouri.
Without a doubt, meeting so many of the wonderful folks who call the Show-Me State home has been the highlight of my legislative career. Whether it was visiting me in Jefferson City, inviting me to attend your event or learn more about your business, or sharing your ideas and stories, your input has given me invaluable guidance over the years, and you have inspired me. To all the voters of the 121st House District, 31st Senate District and 21st Senate District, it has truly been an honor representing you. Thank you for giving me the chance to be your voice in state government. And although you may not have always agreed with me, I want you to know that I put a great deal of thought into each vote. At the end of the day, I hope you were able to respect my decisions.
While in the General Assembly, I have been fortunate to work with three fantastic staffers: Anne Herschel, Matt Michelson and Betty Jo Schubert. Their consummate professionalism, organization and dedication allowed me to serve my constituents to the best of my ability. Time and again, they went above and beyond, and I am incredibly grateful for everything they have done. To Anne, Matt and Betty Jo, thank you.
Thank you to my family and friends for your steadfast support — it has meant more than you will ever know. Most importantly, thank you to my wonderful wife, Teresa, and our children, Molly and Andrew. I would not be where I am today if it were not for your love and encouragement.
Finally, these last 14 years have been a great opportunity — representing my constituents, a once-in-a-lifetime gift. In the history of the Missouri Senate, only approximately 1,131 men and women have served as state senators. I feel blessed and honored to be counted among them. Like everyone else, I am not sure what the future holds, but I am looking forward to a new chapter and a new challenge. For the last time as your state senator, thank you and farewell.
As of Dec. 31, my contact information will no longer be valid. You may reach my successor, Senator-elect Denny Hoskins, as of noon on Wednesday, Jan. 4, with any questions or concerns. His office number is (573) 751-4302.
Senator David Pearce serves Caldwell, Carroll, Howard, Johnson, Lafayette, Livingston, Ray and Saline counties in the 21st State Senatorial District.