Betsy Fogle had a job she was passionate and enthusiastic about. As program director at Jordan Valley Community Health Center, she had a direct impact on people’s lives every day. She wasn’t looking for anything more.
But a discussion over coffee with Rep. Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, expanded her vision.
“I’ve always been very interested in public policy and how it impacts you at the local or community level,” Fogle, 31, says. “But I didn’t see myself as a candidate.”
When Quade suggested Fogle run for the 135th District seat in the Missouri House of Representatives, Fogle decided to give it a shot.
“It was kind of a surprise, of course, but I thought about it for probably 10 minutes and decided to do it,” Fogle says.
Fogle says her front-line view of how public policy directly affects people’s health and well-being was at the forefront of her decision.
She wasn’t sure she would win, but Fogle was all in on trying.
“At the time, I didn’t really know that I was going to be able to be competitive,” she says. “My district had been within a 10% margin of flipping blue the last few cycles.”
When she won, “it was absolutely amazing,” Fogle says. She’s now one of only two Democrats representing southwest Missouri.
She hit the ground early and began knocking on doors in September 2019. “People told us we were crazy,” Fogle says with a laugh.
When the pandemic hit in March, the door-knocking campaign halted for safety reasons, but she says by then the campaign had built good momentum and her message was resonating with voters.
“I think in a year when there’s so much negativity and so much fear and bad feelings, our campaign embraced hope and change and love and compassion. And I think people were ready to hear that,” Fogle says.
As she prepares to take her seat in Jefferson City, Fogle says she’s studying the state constitution and policies and procedures of the House.
“I want to make sure I’m the most informed freshman legislator walking into the legislature in January,” she says.
Fogle says she knows that as a freshman in a superminority party, her ability to enact legislation is likely limited. But she hopes to see Medicaid expand efficiently and effectively.
Out of the gate, Fogle wants to tackle issues surrounding COVID-19, including a statewide masking mandate, increased assistance for the unemployed and helping to create uniform standards for school districts. “There is undue pressure on our school districts,” she says.
She also hopes her election win will inspire others to run or volunteer in the community.
“I was just a 30-year-old working my dream job, but not anybody who had an impressive background. There’s nothing especially special about me, except I love Springfield more than I love anything,” she says.
“You don’t have to be a superhero to succeed."
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