Americans have an intergenerational responsibility to leave society and the country better than they found it, Sharice Davids said. The startup founders she interviews for her Starty Pants podcast understand that duty, she said.
“When I think about entrepreneurship, I think of the risk taking and forward thinking of people who are trying to address issues that they see in the market and their community,” Davids said.
The entrepreneurial mindset and her own experience embracing uniquely American opportunities helped inspire Davids to launch a Democratic Congressional bid for Kansas’ 3rd District, now represented by Republican U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, she said.
A 37-year-old Leavenworth-area native, Davids works as a corporate attorney in Shawnee, in addition to founding and operating Starty Pants with her brother, Josh. The interview-style podcast, which launched in October, has featured such Kansas City founders as Bek Abdullayev, Super Dispatch; Dan Smith, The Porter House KC; Carlanda McKinney, Raaxo; and Matt Baysinger, Breakout KC.
Starty Pants is on hiatus until April, when Davids expects to resume posting new episodes, she said Tuesday.
The Democratic field is already crowded with primary candidates, including Chris Haulmark, Mike McCamon, Tom Niermann, Brent Welder, and Yoder’s 2016 challenger Jay Sidie. Each of these competitors brings a valuable skill set to the race, Davids said, with the ultimate goal of unseating the Republican incumbent.
“Kevin Yoder no longer represents the people of Kansas,” she said. “He is now a rubber stamp for the Trump administration and the big-money donors who have fueled his campaigns. Voters now have a clear choice in this race.”
Davids’ federal experience sets her apart from her fellow Democrats, she said. A member of the 2016 White House Fellowship program, she spent a year working with senior officials to increase transparency and citizen engagement, she said. It was an enlightening experience — especially during the Obama-Trump transition, when Davids said she saw the immediate need for competent, thoughtful people to step up, take action, and get involved.
Her legislative priorities include education, healthcare, immigration and gun safety, she said.
“I observed the highest levels of government — how policies come to be, who’s making what decisions,” she said. “It was eye-opening how the information from the executive branch gets to the legislative side and where those interactions happen.”
Davids hopes voters focus on her career background, rather than her identity, she said. If elected, she would be Kansas’ first openly-gay representative and could be the nation’s first female Native American member of Congress, according to Davids’ campaign.
“My demographics are an important part of who I am, but they are only a piece of what contributes to my experience,” she said.
An enrolled member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, Davids has spent the majority of her career focused on economic development and advocacy in Native American communities, living and working on reservations where she saw federal policies play out on the ground, she said.
“It gives me an interesting perspective around the history of our country,” she said. “My mom is a full-blooded Ho-Chunk woman. She was in the U.S. Army for 20 years and a single parent. I always grew up very much feeling a gratitude for being an American because of what was possible — if I wanted to make a difference, I could.”