On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Liz Schlemmer welcome Democrat Steve Roberts Jr. to the program for the first time.
Roberts recently won a contested primary for the 77th District Missouri House seat, which takes in portions of central and north St. Louis. The seat became open after state Rep. Kim Gardner, D-St. Louis, decided to run for St. Louis circuit attorney, a contest that she won by a comfortable margin.
Roberts is the son of Steve Roberts Sr., a former St. Louis alderman and a prominent developer. The younger Roberts received his undergraduate degree from the University of Miami and his law degree from Pepperdine University. Roberts’ professional career is varied: He’s worked as a congressional aide, a law clerk for the district attorney in Campton, Calif., and in the private sector. Roberts also worked as an assistant circuit attorney in St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce’s office.
After collecting more money and high-profile endorsements than his three opponents, Roberts won his primary by nearly 13 percentage points. Because no Republican or other person filed in the heavily Democratic district, Roberts will take office in early January.
Here’s some of what Roberts had to say during the show:
- Roberts once considered running for circuit attorney, but decided to run for the 77th District House seat when state Rep. Kim Gardner, D-St. Louis, ran for Joyce's job. He felt that "the real changes" in policy and criminal justice issues could be achieved in the Missouri General Assembly.
- He said his experience as a prosecutor gave him a "glimpse behind the curtain" — and gave him insight on how to overhaul the criminal justice system. "One thing I'd like to focus on more specifically is path to expungement (removing convictions from records), especially for low-level drug offenses," he said. "Once you're a convicted felon, you can be discriminated in your housing, your employment and sometimes losing your right to vote at least until you're off papers. ... I mean, it's universal that young people do stupid things. But it's really kind of unique to our culture that can really follow them for the rest of their lives."
- Roberts says he's a strong opponent of "right to work," which would bar unionized entities from requiring workers to pay dues or fees.
- He also said that Democrats can find enough receptive Republicans to pursue Medicaid expansion, even if the GOP maintains its supermajority.
Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum
Follow Liz Schlemmer on Twitter: @liz_schlemmer
Follow Steve Roberts Jr., on Twitter: @RobertsForSTL
Music: “Like Spinning Plates” by Radiohead