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Saline County Democrats held their first annual Ike Skelton Sevice Award dinner in Marshall, Missouri on Friday, August 31st. The recipient of the first award – for service to the people of Saline County – was Hazel Willet, a long time legislative assistant for Saline County legislators in the Missouri General Assembly. The award was a well kept secret until the announcement that evening and a complete surprise to the recipient who was in attendance.

Former Congressman Ike Skelton (D) at the annual Ike Skelton Service Award Dinner in Marshall, Missouri on August 31, 2012.

A number of Democratic office holders and candidates, statewide and local, attended the dinner. It was an opportunity to visit with Democratic Party voters and an opportunity for those voters to meet and interact with their various representatives and candidates. It’s retail politics at its best.

Cass County Prosecutor Teresa Hensley (D) (center left) and former Congressman Ike Skelton (D) (center right). Teresa Hensley is the Democratic candidate in the 4th Congressional District which to 2010 had previously been Ike Skelton’s seat.

Yes, there’s always good food and patriotic table decorations at these events:


Cass County Prosecutor Teresa Hensley, the Democratic Party candidate in the 4th Congressional District.

Former State Representative Jim Seigfreid (D) (left) and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (D) (right).

Gary Grigsby, the Democratic Party candidate in the 51st Legislative District which includes portions of Marshall and Saline County.

Phyllis Domann (far left), the Democratic Party candidate in the 52nd Legislative District and Teresa Hensley. Elgene Ver Dught (right), the Democratic Party candidate in the 21st Senate District.

Office holders and candidates were given the opportunity to speak. In every instance they kept their remarks brief, in deference to the purpose of the evening – and also already having spent time meeting and greeting the dinner attendees before the start of the formal activities.

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (D). His district will include Marshall and Saline County when redistricting takes effect.

Teresa Hensley (D) (left) and Attorney General Chris Koster (D) (right).

ElGene Ver Dught (D).

Phyllis Domann (D).

Gary Grigsby (D).

Former Congressman Ike Skelton (D) addressed the audience before the award was announced.

An excerpt from Ike Skelton’s remarks:

Ike Skelton (D): ….I, uh, can step back a little bit from the political fray and I, I feel somewhat heartbroken. America became great because of our positive attitude toward life. What we’ve had is the challenges, some pretty tough ones, but we always overcame them. It was a positive attitude of America.

Alexis de Tocqueville, in eighteen forty, visited America and he went back and wrote a book, Democracy in America, in his native France. And he wrote that America is great because America is good. And should America ever stop being good then America will stop being great.

And all you have to do is listen to the radio and the television and read the items in the newspapers and you will see an America that is bathed in negativism. This really, really bothers me. And if our country is to continue to be the bastion of freedom in this world we’re gonna have to change the tune of what we hear. We’re going to have to regain America is good attitude all across the board. And politicians ought to lead that effort and say what’s going to better our country and we can make it better. That’s the challenge that we ought to be accepting, rather than the challenge of tearing down another party or tearing down another candidate. It’s got to change. [applause]

Politics is not a dirty word. Politics is the art of government. It’s a good thing. I’ve enjoyed it all my life. My daddy was very involved with it, my mother was very involved with it. And I also became involved with it. And it was a good ride for me. I enjoyed it. Most of all I enjoyed the serious friendships that we made through the years. And memories are great. And that is the greatest pay I can, anyone in public office can receive.


You know, we have with us two previous prosecuting attorneys, Teresa Hensley, Chris Koster, and both of them are tied for a prize. Both of them win the prize for being the second best prosecuting attorney [laughter] in the State of Missouri. [applause] Being modest, I will not tell you who is the best one [laughter].


Attorney General Chris Koster (D) (right).

Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D).

After the dinner and speeches the conversations continued.

Ike Skelton and Teresa Hensley. Photo by Jerry Schmidt.