Jim Trout said he and Gina Mitten, his opponent in the 83rd District race for Missouri House, have a lot in common. The difference he said he brings is experience and leadership.
“Sometimes working up at Jeff City has nothing to do with being a lawyer, it has nothing to do with city council experience,” said Trout, who like Mitten is a Democrat. “It’s gritty, seasoned experience working with that culture, and that’s what sets us apart.”
Trout is a builder with experience constructing energy-efficient homes. That’s where much of his background in navigating the legislative process lies.
He said he has helped implement portions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act related to energy-efficient building, and he has gained familiarity with many government departments along the way.
“I chair the Governor’s Council on Disability, so quarterly I meet with all the cabinet representatives,” he said. “We stay abreast of all the legislation that’s being worked on at any particular time, which is a toughy.”
He said he also watches out for amendments to laws and works with people from both political parties.
“You have to know the culture,” he said. “You have to know who your colleagues are.” He said he sometimes shows lobbyists from the other side of the aisle the benefits of a bill he thinks should be passed.
“A good example is property-assessed clean energy,” he said. “We are the last state in the country that should have passed it because we’re not very progressive, and we were one of the first.”
Trout said he approached Missouri bankers to show them how they can make money if opportunities for alternative energy are expanded.
He said he initially experienced a lot of pushback when he went to Jefferson City to protect property owners from abuses of eminent domain.
“We got it by working with the Farm Bureau, the farmers,” he said. “They had an interest in this. They also had a great deal of power with the other side, so we got the bill through.”
Sometimes getting a bill passed is just a matter of staying on the phone.
“When MC Plus—Medicaid for low-income disabled children—had failed for the third year running, I got on the phone,” he said.
“I called 50 friends, had them call the chairman who was sitting on it, and stay on the phone until he released it,” he said. “And it got the votes to pass.”
He said he engaged in all that work as a citizen.
“I’m a designer/builder. I built a gold community. I built a geothermal project. I’ve done Energy Star housing in the city. I rehabbed much of Benton Park and just had a blast doing that kind of work.”
Trout ran for the Missouri Senate in a Republican district four years ago and got 42,000 votes.
“I needed 46 (thousand). But it was good practice. It taught me everything I needed to know about running a campaign,” he said.
Jim Trout and Gina Mitten are on the Aug. 7 primary election ballot. The 83rd District includes , except for its northwest corner and generally south of Highway 40.