Mike Robertson said some goodbyes on his way out the door, but he didn’t leave a list of instructions to Lynn Morris.
Morris took an oath of office to be sworn as the new Eastern District commissioner of Christian County on Dec. 31, starting a four-year term. Robertson served two years on the county commission, but opted not to run in the 2020 election.
“I have truly enjoyed this job. I have enjoyed the people, I’ve enjoyed trying to save money for the citizens. I hope that I was in on some good decisions, but I’ve really enjoyed the job,” Robertson said.
Robertson became Eastern District Commission on Jan. 3, 2019, by appointment from Gov. Mike Parson. He served out the remainder of an unexpired term created when former Eastern District Commissioner Ralph Phillips won election to the position of presiding commissioner.
Robertson said he will be available if Morris wants to ask for advice, but he feels that Morris’ experience for eight years as a state representative will help him make a smooth transition to the Christian County Commission.
“I think Lynn is probably more suited than I would be with all of his experience in government,” Robertson said.
Robertson served as sheriff of Christian County from 2004 to 2008. He left the office when he opted not to seek reelection. Robertson is a native of Mountain Grove. He is a retired trooper with the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
In retirement, Robertson plans to create more artwork. In college, he majored in art. He said he is ready to create more sketches and oil paintings.
“I’m going to do some more of that. I’ve slacked off in the last years,” Robertson said.
For his part, Morris said he won’t be an expert on his first day.
“I’ve got a lot to learn about county government, but I’ve got great people to work with, a great staff here, and two other great commissioners. I’m going to be going around for the first 90 days to meet everybody in the county—department heads, elected officials and staff, all the employees. I want to go around and understand every function and listen, listen to what we can do to make our county better,” Morris said.
Like Robertson, Morris hopes that his time as a state representative will prove useful for the three-member county commission.
“I will definitely draw on my knowledge that I’ve learned for the last eight years in state government, even though state and county are a little different, I’m going to pull on some resources to help our county. I definitely know some ways that I can benefit the county through state resources,” Morris said.
Christian County Western District Commissioner Hosea Bilyeu calls serving as a county commissioner “my third life.” His first life started growing up with six siblings in southern Christian County. His second life, as he calls it, was working as a teacher and a full-time pastor.
“Now I’m in my third life, but in each stage in that, and in this one in particular, I want to look at, ‘What abilities do I have, and can they be useful in this situation?’” Bilyeu said.
Bilyeu is a career people-person who declared his intent to for reelection in August 2019, about a full year before he ran in the 2020 primary. He went on to win reelection unopposed, but he says the decision to run again was not made lightly.
“I don’t want to waste time on things that I cannot do. I jokingly say sometimes, ‘Don’t ask me to put up a storm door,’ because that’s not my gift, and it’s a waste of your times and money, and mine,” Bilyeu said. “Here, the necessity of interacting in a reasonable manner, and hopefully a gentle manner with people, I think, is important and I think I bring that to the table.”
The most important issue that the Christian County Commission will tackle in the next four years, Bilyeu said, is what he calls, “re-stabilizing,” or emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic ready to grow in all areas.
“When I ran the first time I said on my campaign literature, ‘Together we can do better,’ and ‘together,’ meant more than just being in the same area. It meant being able to cooperate and to be kind, to be nice to one another. I’d like to see that continue and have every reason to believe that it will,” Bilyeu said.