Sunday, March 01, 2015

Stacey Newman: My memories of Tom Schweich

(From Rep. Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis)

We are still in shock after the tragic news of the sudden death of Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich several days ago. Our thoughts are with his family during this very sad and difficult time.

The auditor was my friend and constituent. He never failed to call and congratulate me on my victories every single election which I truly appreciated, even though we belonged to different political parties. Our daughters attended high school and the University of Missouri together and we had many friends and neighbors in common.

As many are doing now in remembrance, I am reflecting on the last time we spoke.

The State Auditor's office must testify each year in my Appropriations Committee as to their proposed budget for the next fiscal year. The auditor and I hugged and greeted each other as always before the committee hearing began several weeks ago as he was prepared to offer his budget.

We caught each other up on our family's lives and he spoke so warmly of his daughter who had found teaching as her new profession. She was student teaching in my district and living close to home. He asked about our daughter and we both remarked how wonderful their own public education had been to prepare them to stay engaged and involved in our community.

I will always remember how passionately the auditor spoke of his daughter and family. We talked of politics and the toll it takes on our respective families. We talked of his announced race for governor and recent puzzling remarks by one of his opponents. He asked my opinion, as a citizen and a fellow public official (which I found refreshing in this day of potent partisanship) of his latest campaign controversy. He remarked that he himself did not understand using negative remarks about women as a campaign ploy.

The whole time we spoke we both were aware of others noticing our conversation before the committee began. I remember the auditor expressing how he wished more of us on both sides of the aisle could talk civilly and with respect of one another.

The rest of that day I reflected on our conversation and was more certain that the auditor was humanely committed to public service.

And now, as we are left to remember him. I will carry with me the lessons he taught me in our own friendship, particularly the value of respect of each of our own differences.

The value he seemed to hold dear of his own family's faith heritage means a great deal to me but not just because I am Jewish. It is that family heritage is to be valued, not used in a manner to incite hate.

This is the lesson we all should carry with us. That each of our own family's struggle to immigrate, prosper, grow and live free in our country, regardless of origin or faith, is to be upheld and respected, not used for political gain. Let's do better. Let's be a better state.

Let us remember Tom Schweich for what he truly worked and stood for. As we prepare to publicly memorialize him, our hearts are heavy. We will truly miss him.

No comments: