Sunday, August 2, 2015

Missouri Senate President Tom Dempsey Ends A Long And Productive Political Career


By Judge Michael Carter

Missouri Senate President Tom Dempsey resigned as the leader of the State Senate and from the Missouri General Assembly in a heartfelt and moving statement released July 31st.  It came as a surprise to many who have become accustomed to following the political career trajectories of those in Jefferson City, but not to those in St. Charles who knew that Senator Dempsey remained, at heart, a man of the people.  There are those who cheered him on as he rose from a City Councilman, to State Representative, then the State Senate, and the President of that powerful elected body.  Many, like myself, expected Senator Dempsey to be Governor one day.  He had the talent and the skill to have made that jump, but he also had something sorely lacking in too many elected public officials today.  Tom Dempsey had a sense of perspective.

His two page letter of resignation explains eloquently the trade off of career and family; the lost time he had to spend away from his wife and family five months out of the year when the legislature was in session.  He talks about the loss of his mother two years before and how it moved him to reassess his priorities.
Senator Tom Dempsey

Senator Tom Dempsey was exceptionally nice each time I dealt with him.  He was responsive and shared my views on the abuse of red light cameras.  Listened to my concerns about the special interest restrictions the legislature had placed on the ability of local governments to dismiss a police chief when deemed necessary.  Even on the controversial Senate Bill 5, which I felt went too far in stripping municipal judges of some discretion in sentencing, Senator Dempsey and his office listened to my suggestions and kept me well informed of the bill's progress.  Most everyone I have spoken with in Jefferson City has had similar experiences dealing with Senator Dempsey.

It also seemed to me that Senator Dempsey, like old St. Charles, was from a simpler, more honest, and straightforward time.  The harsh slash and burn political climate and gamesmanship that poisons progress was not his style.  Tom Dempsey liked to get things done and didn't feel you had to end up hating someone you simply disagreed with over an issue.  His letter of resignation proudly lists many of the things he was able to help bring about as President of the State Senate, despite the bitter atmosphere of government today.

So for his 17 years of public service, we thank State Senator Tom Dempsey and wish him well in his new career.  We also thank him for not letting Jefferson City change who he is and we say welcome home Senator.