Zachary Wyatt

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Zachary Wyatt
ZachWyatt1.jpg
Member of the Missouri House of Representatives
from the 2nd district
In office
January, 2011 – January, 2013
Preceded by Rebecca McClanahan
Succeeded by Nate Walker
Personal details
Born (1984-10-07) October 7, 1984 (age 32)
Kirksville, Missouri
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) David Wyatt-Gomez
Residence Novinger, Missouri
Alma mater Community College of the Air Force
Profession former U.S. Air Force language specialist
Religion Catholic

Zachary Wyatt (born October 7, 1984) is an American politician from the state of Missouri. A Republican, Wyatt was a one-term member of the Missouri House of Representatives from the 2nd District, encompassing Adair county, Putnam county, and a part of Sullivan county. In May 2012, Representative Wyatt became, at that time, the nation's only openly gay Republican legislator. He "came out" during a press conference in the Missouri Capitol, while opposing the "Don't Say Gay" bill. Due to Missouri House redistricting following the 2010 U.S. Census the 2nd district will be divided into two newly numbered districts. Representative Wyatt had originally filed to run for the 3rd district, which includes most of his former 2nd district territory. However, in early April 2012 he announced his intention to withdraw once a suitable Republican replacement could be named. Wyatt stated his withdraw was prompted by his acceptance into a marine biology program at the University of Hawaii, and his desire to take full advantage of his veterans education benefits.[1] In the November general election Republican Nate Walker defeated Democrat Rebecca McClanahan, Wyatt's opponent in 2010, to win the 3rd district seat and succeed Wyatt.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Zachary Wyatt was born October 7, 1984 in Kirksville, Missouri to parents Randall "Randy" Wyatt and Frances "Fran" Wyatt (née Quint). He has one sibling, older brother Nicholas Wyatt, a U.S. Navy veteran. Raised in rural western Adair county, Wyatt graduated from Adair County R-1 High School in Novinger, Missouri in 2003. Following graduation he enlisted in the United States Air Force, serving until March 2010. While in the USAF, Wyatt earned an Associate of Arts degree in information technology from the Community College of the Air Force, as well as an Associate of Arts degree in Russian language and a Chechen translating certificate from the Defense Language Institute. While in the Air Force Wyatt also served as an airborne Russian/Chechen/Ukrainian linguist on RC-135 and C-130 aircraft monitoring communications.[3]

Political life[edit]

Zachary Wyatt developed an interest in politics as a teen, an interest that was further enhanced when he had the opportunity to serve as a legislative intern for Missouri United States Senator Christopher "Kit" Bond in 2007. According to Wyatt: "It was at this time I first realized my call in life was to serve Missouri through politics." [3]

Despite not having run for or held public office before, Wyatt declared his candidacy for Missouri's 2nd District State Representative. In an election upset, Wyatt defeated two-term incumbent Representative Rebecca McClanahan by a margin of 60.6% to 39.4% [4][5] In addition to the state legislature, Wyatt was also elected president of Novinger Renewal in 2010. Novinger Renewal is a community betterment group working for the historic preservation and revitalization of Novinger, Missouri.[6]

Legislative Assignments[edit]

Representative Wyatt serves on the Veterans, International Trade and Job Creation, Special Standing Committee on Renewable Energy, and Agri-Business committees. Wyatt also serves as vice-chair of the Rural Communities Development Committee. Summer 2011, Representative Wyatt was appointed to the Joint Committee on Urban Agriculture. He also will serve on the Missouri Arts Trust Board.[7]

2011 Legislative Session[edit]

Representative Wyatt sponsored 14 pieces of legislation in the session. The bills dealt with economic development, veterans, education, and lower taxes. Three of the bills were signed into law.

2012 Legislative session[edit]

Among the bills introduced during the session by Representative Wyatt were legislation to establish renewable energy in Missouri state parks, changes allowing more freedom in living arrangements for the developmentally disabled, and a constitutional amendment altering the state's judicial commission.[8][9]

Wyatt vs. Judge Steele[edit]

One key piece of legislation was HR 333 sponsored by Representative Wyatt. The resolution called for the impeachment of Missouri Circuit Judge Russel E. Steele, the first such action in Missouri since 1968. The impeachment is based on allegations of possible judicial misconduct, willful neglect of duties as a jurist, and official corruption.[10] The resolution received bipartisan support, being co-sponsored by Representatives Andrew Koenig (R), Paul Curtman (R), and Sylvester Taylor (D).[11] In response to HR 333, Steele issued a press release stating "I trust that the media and the people will see this effort for what it truly is, politics at its worst" and that the Missouri Commission on the Retirement, Removal, and Discipline of Judges, as well as an Adair County grand jury, had already investigated the charges in 2006.[12] The resolution was forwarded to the House Judiciary Committee but no further action was taken.

"Don't Say Gay" bill[edit]

In April and May 2012 Representative Wyatt expressed deep opposition to Missouri House Bill 2051, commonly known as the "Don't Say Gay" bill.[13] The bill would put strict limits on the discussion of sexual orientation in Missouri schools, limiting it only to classes on health and sexual reproduction. The bill gained nationwide attention from various news outlets and The Colbert Report. On May 2, 2012 Wyatt held a press conference at the Missouri State Capitol outlining his opposition. During the course of the event he read a statement announcing that he was gay.[14] The revelation meant that Wyatt is the only currently-serving gay Republican legislator in the United States,[15] something addressed in a May 3, 2012 interview on the MSNBC program The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell. Asked by O'Donnell why he was a Republican, considering the party's stance on LGBT issues Wyatt replied "I'm not a one-issue person" and that he is a firm believer in a balanced budget and small government.[13]

Electoral history[edit]

Missouri 2nd District State Representative Election 2010
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Zachary Wyatt 6,794 60.6 Winner
Democratic Rebecca McClanahan 4,423 39.4

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Wyatt withdraws from race". KTVO-TV. 2012-04-03. Retrieved 2012-04-08. 
  2. ^ "State Representative 3rd District Summary". Missouri Secretary of State website. 6 November 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  3. ^ a b [1] Archived July 10, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Hunsicker, Jason (2010-11-03). "Wyatt wins House seat, defeats McClanahan - Kirksville, MO". Kirksville Daily Express. Retrieved 2012-05-03. 
  5. ^ Zach Wyatt's interview by C.E. Huffman. "Zach Wyatt's interview : News". HeartlandConnection.com. Retrieved 2012-05-03. 
  6. ^ Novinger Renewal newsletter, Summer 2010 edition
  7. ^ Wyatt appointed to committees by C.E. Huffman. "Wyatt appointed to committees : News". HeartlandConnection.com. Retrieved 2012-05-03. 
  8. ^ "Wyatt Bill Report". Missouri House of Representatives website. 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-23. 
  9. ^ "Wyatt attempts to increase transparency". Truman State University Index newspaper. 2012-03-21. Retrieved 2012-03-23. 
  10. ^ "Resolution regarding Judge Steele referred to Judicial Committee". KTVO-TV via website. 2012-02-03. Retrieved 2012-03-23. 
  11. ^ "Local judge feels the heat". KTVO-TV via website. 2012-01-24. Retrieved 2012-03-23. 
  12. ^ "Mo. Circuit Judge Steele responds to call for his impeachment". KHQA-TV via website. 2012-01-27. Retrieved 2012-03-23. 
  13. ^ a b "Wyatt interviewed by MSNBC". Kirksville Daily Express. 4 May 2012. Retrieved 4 May 2012. 
  14. ^ Jason Hancock. "Missouri Republican announces he's gay in response to 'don't say gay' bill". Midwest Democracy. Retrieved 2012-05-03. 
  15. ^ Klundt, Tom (4 May 2012). "Missouri lawmaker becomes only openly gay Republican legislator". Talking Points Memo.com. Retrieved 4 May 2012.