By Jeff Gulley
With just over five months until the 2nd Congressional District’s primary election, former state lawmaker Paul Davis was in Ottawa Saturday to meet with the public at an event and go door-to-door.
“Today (Saturday) we are going to go out and knock on doors,” he said. “I’m doing this the old fashioned way, not asking people to come to our campaign but taking the campaign to their doorstep. It’s an opportunity to hear from people about what they are concerned about and what they want to see from their next member of Congress.”
Davis spoke at Smoked Creations in Ottawa for a noon luncheon. His supporters then hit the streets to get signatures for his petition to be put on the August ballot. He has received about half of the 2,300 signatures he needs to be placed on the ballot.
“We want to get signatures from every corner of the district so we are doing this in all 25 counties in the second district,” Davis said. “We want to turn those in early because the county election official will have to certify the signatures that come from that county.”
Davis is campaigning for Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District seat currently held by Rep. Lynn Jenkins, who has announced she is retiring. In his failed attempt to unseat incumbent Gov. Sam Brownback in 2014, Davis won the second district by seven points.
As a lifelong Kansan and the son of two teachers, Davis said he is following issues on state education funding and will continue to support public schools while in Washington.
“Both of my parents are teachers so education has been something near and dear to my heart,” he said. “During the time I was in the Legislature I was a strong advocate for public schools and making sure we were getting more dollars into our classrooms. I hope the Legislature is going to act and make sure our schools are funded to the degree they need to be and if I get an opportunity to go to Washington I am going to be a strong advocate for public education.”
Davis graduated from the University of Kansas, then earned a law degree from Washburn University in Topeka. He has practiced family law, estate planning, and advised small businesses, nonprofits and corporations in Kansas. His wife, Stephanie, works as a psychologist specializing in trauma recovery for United States veterans. Their daughter, Caroline, is a second grader.
He was appointed to the Kansas Legislature at the age of 32, and served for 12 years. During that time he was elected House Minority Leader.
Davis said one of the biggest problems right now is too many members of Congress are disconnected from the people they represent.
“We have too many members of Congress that are only responsive to the people that fund their campaigns and they are not being responsive to the people they represent,” he said “We badly need people in Congress who are going to be connected and are going to listen to the people they represent and take action for them.”
As federal lawmakers continue to debate healthcare, Davis said the healthcare system in the country is too expensive and should create incentives for people to get the care they need. He added that one of the biggest problems with the healthcare system is the cost of prescription drugs.
“There are many seniors that are drowning in prescription drug costs,” he said. “There are too many people dealing with this issue. As a country we spend significantly more on prescription drugs than any other industrialized country. The drug companies have been getting a free ride from Congress for far too long and I think it’s time that we take some measures to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.”
When speaking about the economy, Davis said that the status of the middle class needs to be addressed.
“We have an economy that is working well if you’re very wealthy but it’s not working for the vast majority of Americans that are in the middle class,” he said. “To see tax reform where 83 percent of the benefits go to people that make over $900,000 is a shining example of why this economy is not benefiting people in the middle class. We have to figure out a way to create better jobs and pay better wages for people to provide for their families.”
As Kansas, like many states, struggles to understand and fund mental health, Davis said the federal government can step in and help states address this growing problem.
“My wife is a psychologist and she is in my ear about mental health all the time,” he said. “As a country, we do not devote the kind of resources we have to for people that need help. Right now county sheriffs have jails that are full of people with mental illness and they cant get them to the state hospital and there is just no where for them to receive treatment. There is a role for the federal government there. We can help communities with significant mental health needs.”