The Missouri Times is speaking to new lawmakers this session. Get to know more of the “Freshmen to Watch” here.
“My inspiration for being involved in politics started with me being on the school board; I served for nine years,” Terry told The Missouri Times. “It gave me the ambition and the compassion to work for others — once you get started it’s who you are. When you live in a community and see its concerns, you want to address them the best way you know how.”
Education and child care legislation remain her main priority in the Capitol. Her first-year bills include one that would give grandparents priority in cases where a third party must be chosen to take custody of a child while another would prohibit courts from ordering child support payments if both parents are awarded equal custody.
Among her biggest concerns is public school funding, a battle she said was essential for children and their communities.
“I’m a product of public school, so that is my fight — the system needs to be properly funded and looked at,” she said. “They do great things, and I know what they need. If they are given the chance, the opportunity for the funding they need, you will see a great improvement.”
Terry ran for office to use her life experience on the school board, as a former accounting clerk, and as a lifelong St. Louis resident to help her district and the state as a whole but said she was surprised by the struggle Democrats faced in the statehouse.
“I was excited to come here because I knew it was an opportunity to try to make some changes for individuals across the state of Missouri, and with my experience and insight into some of the challenges in the world today, I am able to speak on them,” Terry said. “I’m in the minority, and there is no compromise when it comes to helping the poor or the underserved.”
Terry pointed to the lack of funding for Medicaid expansion in the budget — a conflict that saw plenty of back-and-forth this session before the package passed both chambers without an appropriation for the measure — as an example of deep partisan divide within the General Assembly. Despite the Republican supermajority and the challenges her party faces, Terry said she would continue representing her district’s interests in the statehouse.
“We’re sworn in under the same oath of office, but when we get to work and decide on things for the state of Missouri we become divided; we’re here to serve the state the best we know how, not our own personal agendas, and I’m not seeing that,” she said. “I call on mercy all the time, and I know that in the end, the less fortunate will win. I just keep the faith and the fight and know that it’s going to be okay.”