BY SEN. KARLA ESLINGER
When I came up to Jefferson City in 2018, one of the first things I noticed was there weren’t a whole lot of people from the Ozarks serving on boards and commissions. Missouri has nearly 200 boards, commissions, councils and various other entities with oversight or advisory roles for a wide range of occupations and activities. Each of these bodies depend on individuals from all across our state who volunteer their time, knowledge and experience to ensure consumers and the interests of Missourians are protected.
I quickly decided there needed to be more of my neighbors participating in government if the Ozarks were going to have a voice in Jefferson City. When I was elected to the Missouri Senate in 2020, I was given the opportunity to request committee assignments. I immediately asked to serve on the Senate’s Gubernatorial Appointments Committee.
To serve on any of Missouri’s boards and commissions, a citizen must first be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. The “advice and consent” responsibility of the Senate begins with the Gubernatorial Appointments Committee, which holds hearings on each appointment. The committee vets each candidate to make sure they are of high character, qualified for the position and that there won’t be a conflict of interest. As a member of the committee, I’m involved in reviewing all of the governor’s appointments. Like every other senator, I also introduce nominees from my district and sponsor them as they appear before the committee. It’s always a matter of pride for me to stand with a resident of the 33rd Senatorial District, or anyone with a connection to the Ozarks, for that matter.
Last week I was honored to be able to present two residents of the 33rd District to the Gubernatorial Appointments Committee. One of these individuals will play a crucial role in providing financing for Missouri businesses, while the other will contribute to the oversight of coroners in our state.
Jonas Arjes of Walnut Shade was confirmed recently to a seat on the Missouri Development Finance Board. The interim president and chief executive officer for the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau, Jonas is a graduate of Missouri State University and a certified economic developer. He will serve alongside the lieutenant governor and the heads of three Missouri state agencies on the 12-member board, which oversees a diverse array of financing programs to facilitate economic development and infrastructure projects throughout the state.
I was proud to stand with Jonas as he appeared before the Gubernatorial Appointments Committee. I’ve made a commitment to economic development and helping bring more jobs to the 33rd District. The Missouri Development Finance Board has an important role in providing the capital needed to grow businesses and bring secure jobs to the Ozarks. I believe the district, and the entire state, will benefit greatly by Jonas’ service.
The other resident of the 33rd District confirmed by the Senate was Marie Lasater of Licking, who was appointed by the governor to serve on the Coroner Standards and Training Commission. Marie has served as the Texas County coroner since 2017. She’s a graduate of Vanderbilt University and the Medical University of South Carolina, with degrees in nursing and nursing administration. She’s also a board certified Fellow with the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators, certified by the American Association of Suicidology and is a member of the American Association of Forensic Scientists.
Ever since I first met Marie, I’ve known of her passion for setting high standards for coroners and making sure professionals in her field receive proper education. Sadly, most Missourians will only encounter their county coroner at a time of loss of a loved one. It is absolutely vital that coroners maintain the highest standards of professionalism and competence to ensure the deceased are treated with dignity and respect. That begins with this commission and I have confidence Marie will represent the 33rd District and her profession well.
I am grateful for the willingness of dedicated professionals throughout Missouri who lend their time and expertise in service to our state. I look forward to continuing my work on the Committee on Gubernatorial Appointments and doing my part to ensure that everyone put forward is qualified for the position they seek. If you would like more information about opportunities to serve your fellow citizens, please visit the Missouri office of Boards and Commissions at boards.mo.gov.
It is my honor to serve the residents of Douglas, Howell, Ozark, Shannon, Stone, Taney and Texas counties in the Missouri Senate, and it’s always a pleasure to hear from friends and family back home. If I can help you in any way, please call my Capitol Office at 573-751-1882. You can also visit my webpage at senate.mo.gov/mem33, on Facebook: @SenatorKarlaEslinger, or follow me on Twitter: @seneslingermo.