Within hours of the deadly strike of the May 22, 2011, tornado, Gov. Jay Nixon was in Joplin.
When hard oversight decisions had to be made in identifying the bodies of the dead, Nixon was there — in person — to take charge. We will never forget the faces of families who stood outside the temporary morgue, waiting for the bad news they knew was coming. Nixon brought people in to shorten that wait.
And in the storm’s aftermath, when Joplin had occasions to rejoice as businesses opened and homes were rebuilt, Nixon was with this town. In fact, nearly 18 months later, the Democrat continues to return to a part of the state where most of its residents regularly vote Republican.
Some might say Nixon’s response to our community in the wake of the tornado that killed 161 people and wiped out a third of our town is enough of a reason to endorse him for a second term as governor.
The Globe’s editorial board takes a broader approach.
A governor must be a leader for the entire state. His decisions are tantamount to the well-being and fiscal security of all residents of Missouri. He is the caretaker of our environmental resources. He makes key appointments in areas of tourism, historic preservation, economic development, highways and education.
He must reach across party lines in order to make compromises that will help stimulate the economy and bring jobs to our state.
And he has to be able to direct state employees in their response to all disasters.
Jay Nixon has shown in his first four years as Missouri’s governor that he is that leader.
He has reduced Missouri’s government in order to make sure our state is fiscally sound. It meant reducing the number of staff on the state’s payroll, consolidating departments and eliminating some of the state government’s unnecessary bureaucracy.
Specifically, Nixon’s first executive order upon taking office was to create the Missouri Automotive Jobs Task Force to develop strategies to bring jobs and vehicle production to our state.
When it looked like Ford’s Claycomo plant in Kansas City might be looking to move elsewhere, Nixon called legislators together and passed the Missouri Manufacturing Jobs Act, which provided incentives throughout our state. That guaranteed 3,750 jobs would stay in Kansas City. The next year, Ford made a $1.1 billion investment in the plant and added another 1,600 jobs.
General Motors recently broke ground on a $380 million expansion of its Wentzville plant and will add 1,660 new jobs there.
And here in Joplin, Nixon announced the Missouri Disaster Recovery Jobs program just days after the tornado to provide 400 temporary jobs for workers who were unemployed when their places of business were destroyed.
The governor’s MoBroadband Now initiative is helping make rural communities that surround us more competitive by getting them wired for broadband Internet access. That is key to attracting businesses and improving education and health care.
Nixon’s Republican challenger is St. Louis businessman Dave Spence. This is his first bid for a political office. Spence, in his own right, has helped Missouri’s economy. In 1985, when he was 26 years old, he purchased Alpha Packaging, a small plastics firm. Under his ownership, it expanded from 15 to 800 employees.
Spence, in our view, would be a valuable asset in our Legislature. He has Missouri’s interests at heart, and we would support him if he decides to run for the House or Senate.
But it’s Nixon’s commitment to all the people of our diverse state that makes him the right choice for governor for the next four years.