If the topic of discussion on the House floor deals with poverty or working families, Rep. Crystal Quade will not hesitate to jump into the debate and try to shed some light on the issues from her perspective.
She grew up watching her mother balance working overtime while trying to feed two children. Quade later saw her stepfather work his way up the factory ladder, his work ethic and dedication to there family helping drive her forward.
Part of her understanding comes from being is the former director of chapter services at Care to Learn, a nonprofit organization that addresses the health, hunger and hygiene needs of economically disadvantaged children in several school districts across Missouri.
“I am a social worker who has a deeper understanding of poverty issues than most. My legislative district is one that struggles a lot,” said Quade. “My biggest goal of becoming an elected official was to bring that to Jefferson City and to change the conversation around working families and people who live in poverty.”
While Quade hasn’t passed any of her own bills in the two years she has represented Missouri’s 132rd House District, she has worked to start the conversation on some issues and change the conversation on others.
In the 2018 regular session, her bill dealing with child care subsidies made it out of two committees in the House. To Quade, having had that conversation multiple times, having people agree on the issue, and to start to have that conversation as a whole is a huge accomplishment and one she hopes to continue.
“I do feel like I have really moved the needle on those conversations,” said Quade.
Something that has helped Quade in her tenure is being a member of the House Budget Committee. She is also a member of the Subcommittee on Appropriations – Health, Mental Health, and Social Services.
With the budget covering the entire state government, those that sit on the committee learn a basic understanding of everything the departments do. According to Quade, being on that committee gives a deeper understanding of topics, a better insight into some of the issues, and a leg up. She takes the knowledge she acquires as part of the committee and uses it elsewhere.
“It is the number one constitutional thing we are required to do. It is nice to be able to serve on the committee that is the one job as a chamber we are supposed to be getting done,” said Quade. “It’s a hard committee, it takes a lot of time but I enjoy every second of it.”
Being part of budget has also led her to jumping into some issues she didn’t expect to when campaigning for office. Quade new what areas of interest she thought she would focus on but as she got to work, those focuses areas expanded to cover more ground than anticipated.
Having been a legislative intern while in college, she came into the job with some understanding of the procedures and processes in the building along with the fast pace environment. She also knew she was part of the minority party.
As a member of the Democratic Party in a chamber where Republicans hold a supermajority, the job comes with its own frustrations, particularly when it comes to policy and things Quade would like to focus on compared to what ends up being the focus at any given time.
Amendment trees at the end of the session, where bills are stacked on top of each other, is also another frustration for the Lady from Greene County.
“That process just doesn’t seem like the right way to govern, we should be spending much more time vetting our policy and really making sure what we are passing is within the law and it is something we want to be doing versus stacking a bunch of policy onto one bill to get it through,” said Quade.
This appeared in the fall 2018 edition of the Missouri Times Magazine, available in Jefferson City at the Capitol, Tolson’s, Cork, and J. Pfenny’s, and online here.
Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University. Contact Alisha at email@example.com.