Alan LaPolice served in the Army in 1989 and was part of the Gulf War. He then became an educator of 16 years, teaching at-risk students.
Now, LaPolice, a Democratic congressional candidate in the "Big First" district, will be taking on incumbent Republican Roger Marshall in the November election, a district that historically has favored Republicans.
When people continue to only vote for one party, no matter the person running, LaPolice says, "We've created our own common enemy, which is ourselves, and Roger Marshall capitalizes on that. He doesn't care one bit about Democratic votes in this district because the Republicans outnumber the Democrats 2 to 1.
"Two years ago when he campaigned, his biggest pledge," he said, 'The politicians in Washington fight too much, they don't know how to compromise. I'm going to go to Washington, I am going to compromise, I'm going to fix it because I am going to be bipartisan. I'm an outsider, and I am going to reach across the aisle.'"
LaPolice went on to say that since being elected, Marshall has not voted for anything bipartisan except the Safe Act with reinforcing the schools in the state.
LaPolice was quick to say that he criticizes the Democratic party, as well.
"That's why you have right wing and left wing media because they are processing it for us," he said. "They don't trust people to be autonomous individuals that have their own ideas, so that's why we have these parties, these binaries."
In 2016, LaPolice ran against Marshall in the Big First as an independent after Marshall defeated incumbent Tim Huelskamp in the Republican primary. Marshall won comfortably, receiving 169,992 votes to LaPolice's 67,739.
In 2014, LaPolice ran as a Republican against Huelskamp in the primary and lost 42,847-35,108.
LaPolice said he initially ran as a Republican after being inspired by the accomplishments of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
"He built this nation," LaPolice said. "He invested in infrastructure, education, science and technology. He built the highways. Most schools were built in the 1950s because there was a massive progressive tax structure. We rebuilt America because there were people like Eisenhower that built a middle class where no other country had a middle class."
His chose to run as a Democrat this time because he saw how hard it was financially for an independent in Kansas.
"I'm trying to buck that system on both sides," LaPolice said. "I took the Democrat branding and label because people see things in binaries and they didn't see the viability of an independent. Now, people say I should have run as an independent, but I tried that and couldn't get people to donate, and I couldn't do the state fair debates because I got told I couldn't debate because I wasn't in a party. I still believe in what I did and still believe in it.
"I couldn't do it alone and needed reinforcements, and the Democratic party was willing to be my reinforcements, but I also don't toe the line for the Democratic party, but clearly a lot of my values align with the Democrats."
LaPolice says that the state is better when it is together despite party lines, believing there must be a safety net, as well as funding for education and government works projects and not making the government too small you can, "drown it in the bathtub."
LaPolice wants to split the power in the U.S. House of Representatives with a congressional victory and divide the Congress to unite the country and force the parties to work together and compromise.
"Single-party power government messed up Kansas," he said. "Single-power messed up the economy in the state."
With agriculture, LaPolice wants to ask the farming and ranching community in Kansas, "Are you better off now than you were five years ago?"
LaPolice says from 2012 to 2014, agriculture reached a peak in the state.
"Six years ago today," he said, "soybeans were trading for 17 and a half dollars a bushel. Now they're trading for seven or eight, they're trading below production cost."
In 2014, cattle producers were trading high, and that number has dwindled down ever since.
Cattle processors are doing better, but the remaining markets have struggled.
"The ag industry is being sacrificed on the altar of Wall Street because that's what politicians are doing now. Everything is for Wall Street," LaPolice said. "The tax cuts they did heavily favored the Wall Street crowd."
With that, LaPolice says, farmers are paying for it because of the inability to renew good trade agreements and expand trade markets. And now with a trade war, ag markets are being hit hard, he said.
"Other nations are figuring out how to eat our lunch," LaPolice said. "America is so unstable right now that we can steal production agriculture from Americans. We have dominated production agriculture. We are the only country that can reliably export 50 percent of our crop, and we are losing that right now."
Kansas, according to LaPolice, is losing its markets and farmers with the highest level of Chapter 12 farm bankruptcy in the country.
A crop that LaPolice supports is marijuana and industrial hemp.
"I'm 100 percent for it," he said. "That could be the magic bullet for western Kansas because it doesn't take a lot of water to grow it. It grows fast as hell, and in just industrial hemp, that is an amazing industry. And what I would do is incentivize a lot of local processing plants so farmers can actually grow it, figure it out, cultivate it and make money off it and it takes almost no water.
"Water out here is gold, so what I can do as a federal legislator is decriminalize it and de-schedule it from the FDA of a Class I narcotic."
Once marijuana is decriminalized, LaPolice said, then it would be up to the states to decide what they wish to do with marijuana and give the power back to the states.
"At the state level, I would vote industrial hemp, medical marijuana and recreational," LaPolice said. "I would vote yes. Why not? I would vote yes."
LaPolice said that if elected, he would get onto the Agriculture Committee.
"I have an agriculture background," LaPolice said. "When Marshall put in for the Ways and Means committee, that's why the Farm Bureau pulled their endorsement. He forgot who brought him to the dance.
"But they re-endorsed him."
Another issue LaPolice has with Marshall is he says the incumbent Republican will not debate him.
"Why would an incumbent ever debate a challenger," LaPolice said. "They have nothing to gain and everything to lose. So Roger will never debate me, so I challenged him in Washington County on ag policy, and I made him look terrible and it got shared. So he went to the press the next day and said I was a joke candidate."
Going back to Eisenhower, LaPolice said the best thing that happened to the president at the time was having a Democratic Congress.
"The greatest gift to a president is a divided Congress because it forces them to compromise," he said. "We can better administer the country by working together, and that is what I will do when I am elected. Bring the state and country together.
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