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Education, guns, jobs: Missourians hope Greitens’ goals will align with theirs

Graphic of John Ballwin's 2017 questions for Gov.-elect Greitens

As Eric Greitens is sworn in today as Missouri’s 56th governor, he’s pledging to support the state’s constitution and to serve the more than 6 million people living in the Show Me state.   

Shortly after Greitens was elected in November, his spokesman, Austin Chambers said,  “… the governor’s priorities for this first session are jobs, ethics reform, public safety and education reform."

St. Louis Public Radio recently asked listeners and readers to share their priorities  for the new governor. In addition to issues Greitens has already raised, some of his new constituents cite discounts and tax breaks for older homeowners.

Here are a handful of concerns and suggestions Missourians shared, through our Public Insight Network. Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Guns and public safety

Chris LeBeau, 35, St. Louis: "With some of the country's most relaxed gun laws, Missouri must find a way to reckon with the fact that gun policies cannot be one size fits all across a state with dramatically different urban and rural settings. In search of a middle ground, it must be ok for people to have guns for hunting, but when they are in crowded areas, the calculus, as a whole, changes.”

Kelsey Power, 37, St. Louis: "My major concern for the new governor is the issue of gun proliferation in Missouri's urban areas. I'm increasingly concerned to be raising a young son in an environment where so many around him are armed.”

Perez Eric Maxwell, 59, St. Louis: "Increase police protection in the city of St. Louis. I live in the city. Crime is out of control. ... Why is Missouri so behind the rest of the country."

Higher education

Eric Greitens is  Missouri's 56th governor. (Jan, 8, 2017)
Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
Eric Greitens is being sworn in as Missouri's 56th governor today.

John O'Connor, 84, Columbia, Missouri: “I believe that higher education and university faculty have been denigrated stepchildren in Missouri, to the detriment of an important avenue for upward mobility for its own citizens."

Carl Burns, 67, Rolla: "I understand that funding for higher education may be on the chopping block, again. It is important to understand that, over the last 15 years, Missouri has witnessed as large a reduction in higher education funding as any state in the country. This has led to tuition increases for students and parents, but with the caps placed on such increases for several years in Missouri, universities have been asked to continue to make cuts. ... It is very unwise to price prospective students out of the market, thereby restricting access. We should look for ways to expand access to these opportunities, not restrict them.”

Jobs and Right to Work

Matt Long, 40, Webster Groves:​ "I'd like Eric Greitens to give priority to jobs and breaking down traditional political barriers. I want him focused on creating an environment where business can thrive and grow in the state of Missouri, while having the necessary legislation in place to protect its citizens and workforce."

John Malan, 63, Ballwin: "If we can't get the state to grow and be competitive, my family won't be able to find jobs."

Help for older Missourians

Carol Schneider, 71, Ferguson: “I would like to see him work to get discounts or rates lowered for senior homeowners on their utility bills and taxes, so those of us on a fixed income can continue to afford to live in our homes."

Inform our coverage

This report was prepared with help from our Public Insight Network. Click here to learn more or become a source and join our conversations.

Follow Linda Lockhart on Twitter: @Llockhart92

Outreach specialist Linda Lockhart has been telling stories for most of her life. A graduate of the University of Missouri's School of Journalism, she has worked at several newspapers around the Midwest, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, as a reporter, copy editor, make-up editor, night city editor, wire editor, Metro Section editor and editorial writer. She served the St. Louis Beacon as analyst for the Public Insight Network, a product of Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media that helps connect journalists with news sources. She continues using the PIN to help inform the news content of St. Louis Public Radio. She is a St. Louis native and lives in Kirkwood.