Lane Roberts' announcement speech

Today, I am announcing my candidacy for the Missouri House of Representatives, serving the 161st district.

Joplin is my home.  I always thought I was from the northwest, Oregon and Washington.  I came to Joplin 10 years ago, not knowing that the families of both my wife and I originated within a 200-mile radius of Joplin.  My mother asked me to apply for the job of Police Chief in 2007.  Truth be told, I only applied because you don’t say “no” to your mom.  It turned out to be perhaps the best thing that ever happened to us.

In Missouri, I found that the American values I grew up with during the 40’s and 50’s and 60’s still exist.  Those values are important to Missouri and to our nation.  We should preserve all that is good about that period in our history, but we can’t go back.  While preserving the good, we must continue the progress we have made on critical social issues.

In 2011 both Joplin and I, as Police Chief, were tested by Mother Nature.  Together we faced her down.  Not only are we still standing, but we stand taller than ever and have become a model for the entire country.  When people in this nation speak of community strength and resiliency, they are talking about Joplin.  If you had asked me 10 years ago where I was from, I would have told you Hillsboro, Oregon.  Today, when someone asks that question, I say that I am from Joplin, Missouri.  I don’t just say it, I proclaim it, because I am proud and honored to be part of this community.  My wife, Judy, and I have a kinship with Joplin that I can only describe by analogy, because descriptive words fail me.  In 1967, I shared a mortar shelter at Tan Son Nhut Airbase, South Viet Nam for 90 unpleasant minutes with a young man named Gabriel Caruso, from New York, as you might expect.  I will never forget him.  I had never seen him before, nor have I since.  But when you have been under fire together and survived, it creates a relationship that can only come one way.  That’s how I feel about Joplin.  Like that young airman, Joplin and Southwest Missouri faced adversity with dignity and courage. 

I retired from the Joplin Police Department in 2014.  Later that year a crisis unfolded in our state and I watch with disbelief as the men and women of law enforcement were abused on social media; lied about; vilified; publicly maligned; assaulted; and generally blamed for all the nation’s faults.  These law enforcement officers were the same people I had worked with for more than 40 years.  The same people whose names are inscribed on memorials in Washington D.C. and on the law enforcement memorial in Jefferson City.  Some of those names belonged to my friends and co-workers.  Nineteen of them were from Joplin.  I have been asked why, if I was really a Republican, would I accept a role in a Democratic Governor’s cabinet.  The answer is that Public Safety and emergency response are not about party.  I was given a chance to do something positive to address what I felt was unjust and to enhance the interests of the state and my city.  It did not, and would not matter to me what the Governor’s political party was.

I want to be very clear.  I am a Republican.  I took my first oath of office at age 18 whereby I swore to support, uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.  The Second Amendment IS the Constitution and until the American people repeal or amend it, it remains the Constitution and I will defend it.    I am pro-life.  Every oath of office that I have taken has included the obligation to protect life and property.  I am a fiscal conservative.  You and I don’t spend our money irresponsibly.  If we can’t afford something, no matter how badly we want or need it, we don’t buy it.  Why should government be allowed to spend your money less responsibly than you do?  I believe in this state’s roots.  The term “family values” has become almost cliché in most of our country, but not in Missouri.  I am a graduate of Liberty University, a fundamental Baptist school.  My children ate at the table with us at dinner time.  When my grandchildren visit our home, we put down our cell phones during dinner and eat at the table together.  Family is still the core structure of our nation, a concept that still lives in Missouri.

The future of Southwest Missouri is bright.  We are poised to grow culturally and economically.  Our transportation system is good and getting better.  We are blessed to have Missouri Southern State University, the dental program they will add soon, Crowder College, and KCUMB starting classes soon.  Our school system is investing in infrastructure that will prepare our young people for success.  Infrastructure, public safety, economic health, fiscal responsibility, and protecting the interests of our most vulnerable populations will be my highest priorities.  Balancing those interests against all that faces our state is no small task, but our priorities must be clear and come first.

During my nearly two years working at the State, I learned a great deal about how our state’s legislature works.  Two things stand out, however.  One is that, while the word “politician” has come to mean something distasteful, there are in fact a lot of people working in state government who are sincere and have dedicated their lives to serving our citizens.  And two, one person can make a difference.  I would like to be one of those people.  That is why I am asking the citizens of 161st District to allow me to continue serving them, this time as a member of the Missouri House of Representatives.