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Rep. Karla Eslinger launches Senate bid


Republican Rep. Karla Eslinger announced her bid for a state Senate seat in southern Missouri Thursday. 

Eslinger was elected to represent HD 155 in 2018. In the General Assembly, she serves on the Elementary and Secondary Education and Workforce Development committees.

State Rep. Karla Eslinger

“It has been an honor to serve the fine residents of District 155. I am proud of the work that we have been able to do in a short period of time,” Eslinger said in a statement. “I am running for the 33rd Senate District because I want to continue my mission to improve education, economic development, and access to quality healthcare [for] all Missourians.” 

“I have loved this area ever since moving here and chose to raise my family here,” she said. “This is my way of giving back to a community that means so much to me.” 

Raised by a single mother, Eslinger moved to Theodosia with her family after they had been homeless. She attended College of the Ozarks and has a master’s degree in elementary administration, a specialist degree in school finance and law, and a doctorate in educational leadership and policy analysis. 

Eslinger has said her priorities include improving access to health care, repealing regulations that could hinder farmers, and reviewing all government programs. She also said she plans to push for a constitutional amendment ensuring undocumented immigrants could not vote in Missouri elections. 

She has worked as a teacher and principal and was the first female superintendent for the Ava R-1 School District. She has also served as superintendent of West Plains R7. 

Eslinger is the former assistant commissioner of the Missouri Department of Education and has worked as a senior education analyst for the U.S. Department of Education. 

“I believe we need to maintain strong local control of our schools and focus more resources for the classroom and less for the bureaucracy,” Eslinger said. 

GOP Sen. Mike Cunningham has represented SD 33 since 2012 and is prevented from running again due to term limits.