JEFFERSON CITY — The first person hoping to become Missouri's new "nonpartisan demographer" filed his application with the office of state Auditor Nicole Galloway on Tuesday.
Jason J. Ross, 46, of Jefferson City, would become the state's first nonpartisan demographer, a position voters approved last year as part of a package of ethics reforms. The demographer will be in charge of drawing state legislative districts after the 2020 census.
"I'm retired Air Force and looking to find a position that challenges me both professionally and intellectually," Ross told the Post-Dispatch.
When asked about his political leanings, Ross said: "I'm probably as middle-of-the-road as you can possibly be."
According to his application, Ross earned a bachelor's degree in social studies secondary education from Arizona State University in 2000. He earned a master's in geography and a Geographic Information Sciences certificate from the same school in 2006, the application says.
He earned a second master's — this time in military operational arts and sciences — from Air University in 2014, according to the application.
He said he graduated from Jefferson City High School in 1991.
Since October 2018, Ross has been assistant professor of aerospace studies at Air Force ROTC Detachment 440 at the University of Missouri-Columbia, the application says.
At the same time, he is a defense contractor for the Golden Key Group, in Virginia.
He "is one of the inaugural 17 contractors to pilot ROTC’s new program that utilizes civilian instructors within its ranks," according to a biography posted by the university.
"As such, he instructs a curriculum encompassing National Security, Air Force Organization, Air Force communications and Customs and Courtesies to cadets," the biography said.
Ross briefly taught history at Jefferson City High School before leaving the job for the ROTC job, according to his application.
He said his 2006 master's thesis, titled "Air Force Recruitment: a Geographic Perspective," would help him prove his qualifications for the office.
"My hypothesis was that the closer they lived to a military installation, the more likely they would be to join military service," Ross said.
According to his application, Ross has applied for three other state jobs since 2017. So far, the state has not hired him for any of the positions, though he filed an application to be the Department of Higher Education's chief of staff just recently, on July 23.
Ross was the first to apply, but he will likely not be the last.
The job posting will remain open until Dec. 4, and all applications are posted online. Galloway, a Democrat, will provide the names of applicants to the Missouri Senate majority and minority leaders, who will choose who gets the job.
Republicans could also move to ditch the voter-approved nonpartisan demographer system next year. An ill-fated proposal this year would have asked voters to reconsider the scheme.
Many Republicans have said it is a ploy to benefit Democrats. Those lawmakers could bring the proposal up next year.