The Missouri Times is speaking to new lawmakers this session. Get to know more of the “Freshmen to Watch” here.
Initially, she turned him down when he asked if she would run for the statehouse. But he persisted.
“He came to me and said, ‘Look, I need you to do this. … You’re the only one that has a resume, and people know you, and you have a great work ethic caring for the people.’ And although I wanted to say no he wasn’t wrong,” Turnbaugh told The Missouri Times.
Turnbaugh’s family started Grandview’s weekly legal newspaper in 1952 where she worked as a graphic designer until 2005. Growing up in Grandview and working at the family newspaper allowed Turnbaugh to build close relationships with those in her community. In 2010, Turnbaugh was elected as an alderman on the Grandview City Council.
As an alderman, Turnbaugh was only assigned to take care of one of the three wards — but she said she took care of them all.
“Being that I was the homegrown newspaper person, they all knew my family,” Turnbaugh said. “If they couldn’t get to their alderman with their questions to be answered, they called me and [said], ‘I’m sorry but …’ That meant that they were not one of my ward people, but when you’re in public service you take care of your folks.”
Turnbaugh held her role as alderman for 11 years before being elected to represent HD 37. The district includes parts of Cass and Jackson counties and is the home to 26,000 constituents. Turnbaugh won the HD 37 with 56 percent of the vote in the general election.
“The R or the D doesn’t matter. They’re human beings, they’re constituents, they’re people that need to be able to have that person that can find where it needs to go,” Turnbaugh said of her role as a representative for her community. “I hear what they want, and I take it to where I need to get [it] to get some things accomplished.”
“I am not a politician. I am a servant of the people,” she said. “Nothing I do is about me.”
Turnbaugh has not filed any bills this year and described herself as a “worker bee” who prefers to work with others behind the scenes. Turnbaugh has co-sponsored bills pertaining to firearm safety, employment for disabled people, and insurance coverage for mental health conditions. Turnbaugh has also co-sponsored bills that would designate the first full week of February as school counseling week as well as legislation to designate the first full week of September as Fox Trotter Week.
When Turnbaugh was a child her family bought three horses: an Arabian, a Saddlebred, and a Tennesee Walker. Turnbaugh took lessons, showed horses, and eventually learned how to judge shows. At 19, Turnbaugh applied for her license with the International Arabian Horse Association and has judged Arabian horses up to the international level for more than 40 years. Turnbaugh has traveled to Argentina twice to judge horse shows as well as shows in Canada and the U.S.
“I know a lot of owners and breeders, and [the] Fox Trotter is the state horse,” she said. I’m also a professional photographer, and I shoot for shows. I have a group of friends that are from here down to the bootheel area, and so I’m happy to be able to do that for my horse [people].”
Turnbaugh serves on the Conservation and Natural Resources Committee and the Rural Community Development Committee as well as the Special Committee on Small Business.
Elise Eaker studies journalism at Lincoln University. Prior to Lincoln, Elise graduated from Fulton High School. She is a native of Fulton.