Casey Guernsey has a way of making an impact on others, whether it’s in the legislative chambers of the Missouri Capitol or on the family farm in northwest Missouri. He’ll be the first to tell you he loves to meet and work with interesting people. Behind the serious expression is a man whose passion for agriculture and people overflows.
Guernsey was born in 1980 in Colorado, but grew up in Bethany, Missouri. The eldest of four children, he spent his youth working on the family farm, where they raised hogs, cattle and ran a dairy operation until 2009. He also became involved in the National FFA Organization, serving as a chapter officer and earning his American Degree. The Guernsey family ancestors settled in northwest Missouri before the Civil War. Casey was the first to leave the area to attend College of the Ozarks near Branson, Missouri, and later move to Washington, D.C.
College was where Guernsey discovered his passion for the political arena.
“2000 was a big year,” Guernsey said, in reference to the presidential election where George W. Bush defeated Al Gore.
Guernsey had the opportunity to participate in campaign work at College of the Ozarks, and said he enjoyed watching the political process play out. Throughout the campaign, he made connections and landed an internship with U.S. Senator Roy Blunt on Capitol Hill his senior year.
“It was a fun time to be in politics for Republicans,” Guernsey said.
Working in Washington, D.C., wasn’t a typical 8 to 5 job, according to Guernsey – there were many late nights, early mornings and weekends spent in the Capitol. He said he enjoyed working with the people and the team environment the position required. After working with Congressman Sam Graves and spending a total of five years in Washington, D.C., Guernsey moved back to Bethany, became involved in the farm once again and ran for a seat in the Missouri House of Representatives.
Guernsey said the best part of being involved in state legislature was by far his constituents. His district was full of “hard-working, honest folks who didn’t want much more from the government than to leave them alone.” Ryan Clearwater, Guernsey’s former legislative assistant, said that Guernsey prided himself on being accessible to his constituents and an open sounding board.
“Casey cared about the people’s opinion,” Clearwater said. “He always listened no matter what their stance was on an issue.”
In the legislature, Guernsey’s goal was to be chair of the agriculture committee, and through his role on the committee, he was able to work on major issues in agriculture and farming at large. He also devoted time to serve as a mentor for high school and college students during legislative days, especially with career and technical organizations such as the National FFA Organization.
“Casey took a real interest in the FFA members and was easy to work with,” said Keith Dietzschold, Missouri FFA executive secretary.
“My goal was never to be a career politician,” Guernsey said, noting that serving in public office was more than a full-time job.
Clearwater can bear witness to the late nights and early mornings Guernsey spent in the Capitol.
“I can’t count how many times I would come into the office late at night to get things done, and he would either already be there, or he’d show up shortly after,” Clearwater said.
He goes on to say that Guernsey’s dedication to the office was what, in his opinion, made him so successful.
“I think he was so effective at his job because he enjoyed it,” Clearwater said. “He didn’t consider burning the candle at both ends a hindrance or work.”
After deciding that running for a seat in the Missouri Senate wasn’t the right move for him, he ended his term in January 2015 and went straight to work for Axiom Strategies in Kansas City. Guernsey now is involved in public affairs and has time to work on his own business while still being involved in the family farming operation. He notes that he has plans to run for public office again in the future, but for now wants to focus on other areas of his life.