01/18/2012

A strong voice for constituents

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Judy Morgan photo by Don IpockNewly elected Missouri Rep. Judy Morgan. Photo by Don Ipock.

When members of the Missouri House of Representatives converged on Jefferson City in January for the start of the 2012 legislative session, AFT retiree Judy Morgan was among the crowd. As the new kid on the legislative block, Morgan was eager to begin her new career.

Although her passion for government and politics began when she was a child, Morgan never had planned to run for public office. But she was encouraged by friends to run for the seat vacated by state lawmaker Jean Peters Baker who was appointed Jackson County prosecutor in late 2011.

Morgan says jobs, the state budget and public education will be her top priorities. A Kansas City native, she has built a career around education—first as a teacher and later as a guidance counselor. Morgan was active in her AFT local, the Kansas City Federation of Teachers and School-Related Personnel. She was elected president of her union in 1999 and served in that capacity until her retirement in 2009.

With only seven weeks to campaign from the time she decided to run until the special election, Morgan says her election work with the AFT over the years really came in handy. "My experiences and involvement prepared me well. I learned a lot from the AFT about running campaigns." Morgan also had help from her fellow teachers—active and retired; and Morgan's husband worked tirelessly on her behalf. "We had a short window of time, but it was a good grass-roots campaign," she says, adding that her victory would not have been possible without the help from volunteer campaign workers.

By the day of the election, Morgan and her team of volunteers had knocked on 3,000 doors throughout Kansas City. "Talking to constituents was the best part," she says. "I've lived in the area for 40 years, and I had a chance to go to places I'd never been before."

As for the next phase of her life as a Missouri legislator, Morgan says, "I'm ready to be a strong voice for my constituents." [Adrienne Coles]

January 18, 2012