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Freshmen to Watch: Rep. Trish Gunby


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Freshman Rep. Trish Gunby is taking years’ worth of activism experience with her to the Missouri state capitol.

Gunby defeated her Republican opponent in a special election for HD 99 in November.

“I had gotten active in my church and various social justice ministries and was doing work with a community group around voting rights. And so when [Rep.] Jean Evans resigned, folks reached out to me and said they thought that I should run,” Gunby told The Missouri Times. “It had not been on my radar up to that point, but I did my homework and started talking to folks and decided that this was my next chapter.”

Gunby, a Democrat, worked in the advertising industry before focusing on raising her two children, during which time she became active in her community. Her areas of activism included gun violence, hunger, voting rights, and the LGBTQ+ community.

State Rep. Trish Gunby worked in the advertising industry before focusing on raising her two children, during which time she became active in her community. (THE MISSOURI TIMES/CAMERON GERBER)

“Throughout the campaign and even here in Jefferson City, folks have said ‘you must be exhausted with all the meetings and knocking on doors and long hours.’ But for me, I majored in political science, so I’ve always had an interest in politics. Being able to visit with constituents or with different groups, it’s provided an opportunity for me to make a more official change,” Gunby said. “I was doing things as a citizen, so this changes it to a legislative authority, but it doesn’t change the passion that I have for those issues.”

“It’s an exciting way to make a difference in a more official capacity, although I will say, as a citizen, I feel you can do just as much,” she said. “I would encourage people, even if you don’t run for office, to engage in something, whatever your passion might be.”

Gunby said she finds herself in a position where many of her colleagues in the Democratic Party have already sponsored bills that she supports, so she has taken a different approach. 

“I have intentionally started sponsoring bills that I believe are more bipartisan in nature,” she said. “There continues to be discussion about the divisiveness that’s present and ways that we can work together.”

Among those bipartisan efforts is HB 1929, which would grant a tax credit to anyone who purchases a gun safety device, such as a safe, to promote safety. Another, HB 1944, would prevent individuals with PTSD from being evicted from their homes so long as the cause for eviction was a direct result of their diagnosis.

Her priorities for her time in the legislature are tied to her community. 

“I feel that because this seat was vacant for almost a year, the 99th district really did not have a voice,” Gunby said. “I want to spend the next few months really hearing from them, what issues and concerns they have. I’m trying to engage the district because they really haven’t had that opportunity. They heard from me for five months, knocking on their doors and on their social media, and now I’m here to listen to them.”  

For a closer look at the freshmen lawmakers in Missouri, click here.