2020 Vision

Joey O'Kelly

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  From fighting against people as a mixed martial artist, to fighting for people as a United States Congresswoman, Sharice Davids has combatted all the odds to become the United States representative to Congress for the third district of Kansas.

  Her team of supporters, Team Sharice, hosted an event inside Overland Park restaurant, “Fox & Hound,” on February 19 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. It was a private event for the Team Sharice members but they were allowed to bring guests. About 25 community supporters attended, along with local election candidates and Davids.

  As Davids entered the room, it was hard not to notice her short stature. When speaking, Davids stood on top of a milk crate to ensure the whole audience could see her. Davids started off by giving local office candidates the opportunity to speak in front of the members to promote themselves and their campaigns. When it was her turn to speak, the congresswoman’s speech included points about being sworn in to a government shutdown, preparing for the 2020 election and helping inform members about local candidates and issues.

  Though the speech referenced multiple areas of concern, the event was relatively informal. There was no dress code, no formal podium for speaking and an open forum where everyone had the opportunity to speak if they wanted. The audience members seemed to be familiar with each other and showed a wide range of diversity. There were people of all ages, genders and ethnicities uniting for the cause of Sharice Davids.

“Team Sharice has some amazing volunteers,” Missouri House of Representatives candidate Emily Weber said. “It’s great when we can all get together again. We’re like one big happy family.”

  The 116th U.S. Congressional class shed new light on political representation for all with the election of representatives from an array of different backgrounds. The newly elected congresswoman made history as the first openly gay Native American elected to Congress.

  Team Sharice didn’t stop after her election in 2018. The group already has their eyes on the 2020 re-election campaign.

  “There is no ‘not in election mode’ for congressional representatives,” Team Sharice member Theresa Hyde said. “I think it’s a problem with the two-year term. Those people have to stay in fundraising and politics mode. Plus, we want to stay informed about issues and know when we need to make our voices heard.”

  In their 2020 efforts, the Team Sharice members are looking at what they learned in 2018. One of the major lessons learned was the importance of representation.

  “We have a citizenry from 18 to infinity who can be part of our democracy,” Team Sharice member Mari-Lynn Poskin said. “So when the younger generation opts out and does not become involved, they are not being represented. Every voice matters in a democracy so every single high school and college student needs to be involved and do something with those brains we gave you.”

  Hyde, a member of Team Sharice, brought her grandkid, LHS senior Casey Johnston, as her guest.

  “I love to meet people who are making a difference in our country,” Johnston said. “Not only is she a new congresswoman but she’s a Native American and a lesbian. That amazes me and I am incredibly proud I got the chance to meet her.”

  A common trend in both Davids’ speech as well as the ideology of many Team Sharice members was the importance of young adult political involvement. There were previous high school principals, politicians and everyday people who agreed on the same message all in attendance.

  “The future is yours,” former Kansas State Representative Joy Koesten said. “Young people have to be informed and engaged, get out and vote and do the very best they can to make sure the future is what they want..”

  The combination of political passion, friendship and good old fashioned bar food made for a high-spirited evening. The night was full of laughter and cheers as friends spoke about what truly mattered to them: Sharice Davids.

  “It’s your government. This is the way the government functions. It affects us and, for that reason, it’s our responsibility to be involved to the extent we can be,” Davids said. “Some people face barriers and it’s harder for them to be involved, but for those of us who have the opportunity and capacity to get involved, I think it’s very important. The functions of our government, the programs and the initiatives all have long term effects on our lives.”