Why Sharice Davids should have a second term
Kansas’ Representative for the 3rd District recently appeared on our Streetwise podcast. This is a transcription of our interview, ahead of the November 3rd election.
Representative Sharice Davids, welcome to the show! How are you today?
Sharice Davids: I’m doing well, how are you doing?
Holding up as best as anybody can. I’m very excited to be doing this interview today because the first time I interviewed you was in your last election and it was a time when we were trying to decide whether or not we would move to Kansas City, and in the two years-plus since here, I am now a homeowner in Kansas City who runs The Pitch. It feels like this has been a good period for Kansas City, and that you’ve made that transition easier for me.
Oh, good, I’m glad to hear that.
Last time we talked, you said you enjoyed shows like Arrow and The Flash and were having a hard time finding time to watch those. Have you managed to find time to watch in the past two years, or have you moved onto something else?
[laughter] I’m not caught up on The Flash, or Legends of Tomorrow, or Black Lightning, or Supergirl. But I did watch—I’m not going to give any spoilers, but I did watch the conclusion of Arrow.
And that is your statement on the matter. I like the political—
Yeah. Well, no one wants any spoilers, so…
I guess we’ll get into the hardcore political stuff here: what is the best barbecue sauce in Kansas City?
Oh, you really are trying to get us into a political hot mess. You know, I have a couple of favorites, actually: Slap’s BBQ and Jones Bar-B-Q are my go-to places. What about you?
Oh, I can’t answer that, I would never get elected back into this position. I wouldn’t walk into a trap like that, my god. Favorite player on the football team?
I mean, c’mon now. I will say that I spend—you might have missed it, but we did do a tweet a while ago announcing that, at some point, Patrick Mahomes should run for President.
Yes. He certainly has the temperament for it, nothing seems to get to him.
We need him to continue to be the best quarterback in the league.
Are the gyms in DC sufficient for you to keep up your grueling training regimen?
You know it’s interesting, the way the Coronavirus pandemic has impacted everybody’s lives. Certainly, we can’t pretend that it’s been anything but devastating for so many people. It’s good for people to do stuff that we remember from life before all of this, and I do try to go workout. I wear a mask; in DC, basically folks wear masks everywhere. It feels intense to wear a mask while training.
It’s like adding ankle weights or something, I can understand that. I suppose that dovetails into more serious matters here, what are you most disappointed in across our national and local reactions to this? Even though you’re Kansas-based, you’re a politician that has to deal with Missouri politics because you’ve got two governors with very different approaches. What has been the most frustrating part to you, and what do you hope we can do better?
First, I’ll start by saying that I was really glad that we were able to get a number of bipartisan relief packages together. We passed multiple relief packages. That’s some real relief to folks. When it comes to the things I really want to see and the frustration that I know folks in our community and the KC Metro in general feel is just wanting to see another bipartisan relief package. This has been an unprecedented time, this health crisis is threatening not only our well-being but our economic security. That’s probably the thing that I would point to, I want to see the leadership of both parties come together and get a relief package that’s going to help people.
Do you think the relief packages are sort of trapped in limbo no due to the Supreme Court stuff and general election protection issues? Is there any chance of a bipartisan package happening in the next month or two, or is it going to have to wait?
I’ll stay optimistic about things. When I say that, it’s not just a pure optimism; it’s because a lot of us, myself included, are pushing leadership to stay at the table and continue negotiations. I think that it’s possible; we’ve already seen our parties come together and every day that goes by, we’re seeing the devastating impact of this pandemic impacting more people. I think that we can do it. I also think that most of us, like myself, who are in the house, can be and should be pushing the leadership. I know a lot in our community have been reaching out to me and to our senators to make sure that the people in decision-making positions understand a new relief package is needed. I feel hopeful about it.
So the night of your election, my wife and I showed up at your election event to cover it and we got there around six and were like, “Well, this is going to be a long night, we should definitely pace our drinks because we could be here till midnight.” Then about one drink in was when the news broke, it felt like within the hour. It happened really fast, and that feels like it was yesterday. When I saw the current ads for you running for election on Facebook I was like, “Oh, she must be working for two years down the road or something.” Do you feel like representative terms are too short, that you get into office and immediately have to get into fundraising again, is it a distraction?
Well, it’s funny that you said that it felt like election day was just yesterday. I will say that these two years has been filled with so much that simultaneously, it feels very fast and also it has held a long time. Coronavirus was—we didn’t know how this was going to impact all of us; I got sworn into a shutdown government. It has been a very tumultuous two years for the country, and the only thing that I can really say about this first two years of serving in Congress is that I’ve learned a ton. I don’t just mean about the legislative process, I mean about everything going on in the third district in Kansas, the strong ecosystem—I’m sure you’ve seen that in your time here—just the amount of work that goes into all of this has really highlighted for me how awesome our community is and how much work we need to do. We’ve seen the away our healthcare system and our economy really has some gaps that need to be addressed. I feel fortunate and frankly honored to serve in this capacity during this time in history because it’s been such a hard time for our country. Seeing our community step up the way it has, has been inspiring.
Now back in February in a completely different world, you were selected to be part of a group of people to escort Trump to give his State of the Union address on the night of. I remember you were excited for the opportunity to push him on his healthcare opinions and so on and so forth. Did you end up actually getting any time to talk politics with the resident that night?
You know what, I didn’t. I did get a chance to speak to a number of folks; it was actually a very hustling and bustling event, which is almost hard to imagine. The thing that I took away from that was that we got to talk to a number of people in the back area and the guests we were able to bring. I was able to bring a veteran with me, Kyle Prellberg, who was due a Purple Heart; our office was helping him to navigate that. I think that while I would have wanted to make sure that the President understands that folks want to maintain their healthcare and want to see lower prescription drug costs and protections for people with pre-existing conditions, I was able to really connect with folks and share the story of our veteran that we were able to bring as a guest to the State of the Union.
I suppose it would be remiss to not ask about the most prominent failure of Kansas during this coronavirus stuff. Do you have any thoughts on the disastrous rollout of some of the unemployment of this period?
Well, I have a couple of thoughts, actually. First of all, we know that the need there is staggering. We saw unemployment numbers skyrocketing and (at) the beginning of the pandemic, we heard all of the ways that the system that Kansas has in place really had not been updated or seen any real investment. The Brownback administration was due to update during that time and failed to do so. Even when it comes to our schools, we’ve seen the way that the failed Brownback tax experiment had left our schools in a position to be less prepared to address this. I hope some of this helps us see that we really need to make sure that we’re investing in these key areas. At the federal level, I sit on the transportation and structure and small business committees, and in those spaces, it’s really important to make sure that we’re investing in—we’ve got crumbling roads and we’ve got bridges in disrepair. All of these things are important. As we’re coming out of a pandemic and looking to a thriving economy, we absolutely need to be thinking about how we’re investing in our infrastructure. It’s how we got out of the Great Depression, it’ll help us come out of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Representative Davids, for your next term, what is your biggest pie-in-the-sky goal that you wish for? If everything went right, what would you make sure happens?
That’s a great question, I’m glad you asked it. Healthcare continues to be the top priority of folks in our community. We need to make sure that we increase access to affordable quality healthcare. We need to bring down the skyrocketing prescription drug costs, that’s right at the top.
In the final days before Election Day, what is one way the people can get out and help you?
I think making sure—everybody needs to get out and vote, and once you request your ballot and vote early, make sure you get all of your friends to exercise their right to vote. It’s a huge piece of strengthening our democracy.
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