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Silvey talks about why he left the Missouri Senate for the Public Service Commission

Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, resigned his seat in the Missouri Senate in January to fill a vacancy on the Public Service Commission.
Courtesy of Silvey's Facebook page
Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, resigned his seat in the Missouri Senate in January to fill a vacancy on the Public Service Commission.

Ryan Silvey began 2018 as the state senator for most of Clay County in the Kansas City metro area. On the second day of this year’s legislative session he resigned his seat in the Senate in order to accept an appointment to the Missouri Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities.

And his new job comes courtesy of someone he’s often criticized, fellow Republican and governor, Eric Greitens.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Marshall Griffin talked with Silvey about why he made the switch and how his new job is going:

Describes what happened in the days leading up to changing jobs

“The first day of session (Jan. 3) began on a Wednesday. The previous Friday (Dec. 29), the governor’s office called me and asked me if I would be interested in the position. I told them that I would, but that I wanted till Tuesday (Jan. 2) to talk to my staff and family. It was about a 40-hour process from appointment to confirmation.”

On his contentious relationship with Greitens

“It was the governor’s chief of staff who I dealt with throughout that process. There were a number of things that went into their decision – commissioner (Stephen) Stoll was coming off (the PSC), and they needed someone quickly who could fill that (vacancy). Having chaired the (Senate) utilities committee for the last few years, I would like to think that my skill set was part of that equation, but certainly probably another part of the equation is (that) not a lot of people run to a public service commissioner to ask their opinion on how the governor’s doing (laughs). My guess is that was part of it, too.”

On what Silvey now does as a member of the Public Service Commission

“It’s a huge change of pace; the job is more analogous to being a judge than it is to being a senator or a politician. We have hearings, we have trials, (and) people come and present evidence. I’ve always been a very policy-driven person, so for me it’s actually exciting to get into this work, dig through those issues and make the decisions without the distraction of the politics.”

On accusations that Greitens has stacked other boards and commissions with nominees who will carry out his will

“We had no conversations about any specific energy policy. When I spoke with his chief of staff, the tenor of the conversation was (about) the bills I had introduced and the way that I had handled the (Senate) commerce committee, and thought that I would be a good fit.”

On what he misses about the Missouri Senate

“I am fortunate that four of the five public service commissioners are former (state) senators. But I’m going to miss walking out on the Senate floor and having a debate – debate in high school is what got me interested in politics in the first place. I don’t think we’re going to have that level of conflict on the (PSC).”

On how long he wants to serve on the Public Service Commission

“Most commissioners are only there for one (six-year) term – not a lot of them get reappointed. That probably speaks well to the independence of the commission. If you’re angling for a reappointment, I could see how people might make decisions based on what they think the governor who’s likely to be there would want. I’m going to treat this as an independent office and see what happens in six years.”

On possibly re-entering politics

“I would never shut the door to running for office again if I thought that the office was interesting, the time was right, and it was something I could contribute to. I could very easily go into the private sector as well. The pendulum swings in politics – it will swing far right and then it will swing far left – I’ve never been on either end of that spectrum, so I guess we’ll see where the pendulum is when I have to make that decision.”

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.