[img_assist|nid=2456|title=Steve Glorioso|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=640|height=480] Every Monday, Prime Buzz publishes a Q&A with behind-the-scenes players.
Read on for our chat with Steve Glorioso, an aide to Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes and a Democratic political consultant.
Prime Buzz: Your job in 60 words…
Steve Glorioso: It depends on what job you are asking about. For the mayor I have several duties. The most important is advising her on policy. Kay Barnes is a very focused person, so she wants to hear policy options and then decide what course to take. I also work on communication, which is in many ways a mayor's major responsibility — leading through use of the bully pulpit. I think Mayor-elect Mark Funkhouser has already shown talent for that. Since my role in the mayor's office is part-time, I have also worked on campaigns as a consultant. The most recent was Claire McCaskill's successful Senate campaign.
Where did you grow up? What was it like?
I grew up in the northeast area of Kansas City. It was where many Italian-American families lived. My parents then moved north of the river, where I attended St. Pius X High School. Typical childhood, I think. My stepfather was mayor of Gladstone, and that is where I started my interest in politics. My mother and I would work the neighborhoods for his election. My father was a dress designer.
What did you do for your first paycheck?
I cannot exactly recall. I just turned 60 and so now plead ignorance on details from the past! The first few jobs I had were working in my father's dress factory, a summer job on the railroad and making milk shakes at my stepfather's bowling alley snack bar on weekends.
Any embarrassing work stories you'd care to divulge?
There are many, because my greatest passion is travel. I have done some stupid things while traveling, especially when I was young. I have now visited more than 70 countries at least once. This is not really work-related, but in my youth I would say the following: Upon graduation night at St. Pius X, I was awarded the All-Around Student award. They claimed I most typified the type of student the school wished to graduate. However, I was totally unaware I was receiving the award that night.
During that last day of school, I sent a dozen roses to my favorite teacher, Sister Rose Celine, who taught both Latin and English. She had a big impact on my life. But to this day, my fellow St. Pius grads love to tease me about buying the award. I was assured the selection by the faculty was done the week prior to graduation ceremonies.
As for work, I would say the first time I worked in Albania as an international election observer. Their custom is to move their head up and down to signify “no,” and side to side to say “yes.” I was meeting with a government official and kept getting confused as to whether he was signifying YES or NO. It was a real Laurel and Hardy moment.
What's next for Steve Glorioso?
Next, I am going to give myself a 60th birthday present and travel to Vietnam and Cambodia in May. I was always reluctant to go to Vietnam because of my vigorous opposition to the war in the '60s and '70s. I will do some communication work when I return. And if Mayor Barnes decides to run against Sam Graves for Congress, I will help her.
Do you like reporters?
Yes, I used to be one. From 1994 to 1999 I owned the New Times, an alternative newspaper. I also was one of the founders of the KCPT “Ruckus” show, and I was a political commentator for KCTV-5. The media is our ultimate protection from tyranny and promoter of good government. I interact with them, and many times argue with them, but always maintain a profound respect for the institution.
One of my greatest joys is the opportunity I have had to work in former Communist countries monitoring and observing elections. I have participated in elections in Albania, Serbia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan and others. In many of these countries I often work with their media, which is usually the first thing to go when a dictatorship takes over a country.
What's the one thing most voters don't understand about the art and science of winning elections?
It is not easy to win elections. It is a noble endeavor because as my greatest hero, the late KC Congressman Dick Bolling often said, “Politics is the end result of the democratic process.” In other words, no politics, no democracy. The most difficult thing is communicating a message without the distraction of negative campaigning by your opponent. I think Claire is one of the best at that. So was Tom Eagleton, with whom I worked back in the 1970s.
What is your second career choice?
International consulting, which I started doing for a month or two almost every year since 2000.
Where do you see yourself in 2027?
Retired at 80, hopefully living in the USA and part-time overseas.
What's your favorite book about politics? Why?
Bio of Huey Long, Kingfish. He was a fascinating character during a time when our country almost imploded due to the right-wing policies of the Republican Party in the 1920s. And any book about Harry Truman, who was the political leader whose philosophy most closely matched a Western European socialist that our country has ever had as president. I always smile when I hear conservative Democrats say they loved Harry Truman.
What's your biggest weakness?
Not giving up. As I got older, I started to realize I had to let some things go.
If I could win a reality TV show, it would be …
“What Not to Wear”!
What concert would you pay to see tonight?
Bob Dylan or Dr. John
Who are you backing for president in 2008?
Any Democrat. What has been going on the last eight years with this administration has bordered on un-American as it pertains to the core values this country stands for and fought two world wars to protect.
Will you ever run for public office?
No. I value my personal freedom too much.
What's your job's hardest part?
Losing elections. I have not lost very many, but I regret them all. I didn't regret trying to win or the cause, but failure to achieve an outcome I believed in. The other thing is the new political weapon — the anonymous attacks, especially on the Internet. I really dislike people who hide their identity. I don't, and I have all the political scars to prove it.