JEFFERSON CITY - A spy has entered Missouri's Senate in the form of an ex-CIA agent who now chairs the Senate's Transportation Committee.
He's Jon Dolan, a St. Charles County Republican. And for all the secrecy one would expect from a former agent of the nation's spy agency, Dolan is known as one of the most outspoken members of this year's legislature.
Growing up he saw himself becoming a James Bond of sorts-he wanted to save the world.
"When you grew up in my neighborhood you became either a priest, a police officer, or a politician," Dolan said.
Dolan is in his first year as a Senator after six years in the House of Representatives.
Around the Capitol building most everyone knows who Dolan is, and most of the time they know where he is. Dolan is known for his loud voice that reverberates along the walls.
"He's a hoot," said Sen. Joan Bray, D-St. Louis County, who serves with Dolan on the Transportation Committee.
His quirky personality and humour fosters good personal relationships with his collegues. Bray, who most of the time ends up on the other side of the fence than Dolan, said, "his personality makes interactions more interesting and fun and unpredictable."
Dolan's background isn't typical of a senator. The push toward public service he experienced in his largely Irish-Catholic community as a child in New York City led Dolan to not only the CIA, but also the U.S. Army Reserves.
Dolan was commissioned as an officer in the Army when he graduated from MU with a degree in political science. On the first day of the Persian Gulf War, Dolan was hired at the CIA where he worked as a Special Agent in the Office of Security. While he wasn't off in foreign countries tracking down bad guys, he did work in security on the home front.
"It's funny that someone who talks as much as me was in the CIA," Dolan joked.
"I was there at an interesting time," he said. "It was after the Cold War when the CIA was first opened to the media."
Dolan meet Harrison Ford when Ford filmed the first movie on CIA grounds-Patriot Games.
He left the CIA because his dad passed away and he wanted to get his master's degree. "If I had been involved in more action, like the kind of work they are doing now, I probably wouldn't have left," he said.
But he said it worked out for the best. Dolan now serves as a reservist in the National Guard, and his training in the CIA and the military shaped who he is as a legislator.
"I am a leader rather than just a politician," he said. Dolan is an effusive speaker. His arms wave to emphasize his point as his inflections raise with his excitment.
His wacky energy and military discipline carries over into who he is off the Senate floor. He describes himself as "Jim Carrey meets George Patton" as a father. Dolan has two young children who he is raising with his wife, Leanne, in Lake St. Louis. Hannah is three years old and Jonathan is one.
As a Senator, Dolan's goals are to deal with Missouri's budget and transportation woes.
"I want to do a comprehensive transportation reform package," he said. The main problem is lack of leadership, but he thinks it is about to change for the better, he said.
Dolan also wants to change the way Missouri does business, though he admits this will be a slow process.
"The budget process is a farce," he said. He wants to "cut, cut, cut" the buracracy and make the system more like the private sector.
"I used to rail against the smoke filled room and negotiated settlements," he said. "But, now I think it's the one thing Missouri needs most."
Dolan's future ambitions are to be a part of the national government's efforts in fighting terrorism.
"I'd like to be a loud Dick Cheney," he said.
[Missouri Digital News is supported by the Missouri School of Journalism (home of the The Journalist's Creed),
the Missouri Press Association,
and KMOX Radio in St. Louis.