Shortly after her discussion with the Latino community, Kansas Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Barbara Bollier spoke to residents of Dodge City at Eisenhower Park.
Opening words were given by Edgar Pando, Democratic candidate for Kansas Senate District 38, who reminded people that he is on the ballot in November.
"One of the things that really interested me about Barbara’s campaign, that really pique my interests was that she and I have a lot of similarities," Pando said. "We both have backgrounds in science, we both have policies that are aimed to help people and actually make life better here in Kansas, and at one point or another we were both Republicans and we made the change and now we’re both running as Democratic candidates."
When Mayor Joyce Warshaw spoke, she announced her endorsement of and support for Bollier.
"We’re at a point now where I believe it’s the issues we need to look at," Warshaw said. "We need to look at what meets our criteria, what we need in our lives, what Kansas needs, and what our beloved Dodge City needs."
Warshaw said she did her research on Bollier and was impressed by her career and voting record. She said she believes Bollier meets the criteria and wants to take care of Dodge City.
Bollier said that as a physician, she was not interested in partisan politics and she went into the Kansas Legislature to bring that same value system to Kansas by working across the aisle.
Bollier said that despite growing up as a moderate Republican and being elected to the Kansas Senate as a member of that party, she switched her affiliation to the Democratic Party after finding that she was constantly at odds with Republican leadership over such policies as funding public education, living wages and broadband access.
Bollier fought for Medicaid expansion, stating that 80% of Kansans want that because it brings jobs and care to people, as well as returns money to communities, yet she was still at odds with the Republican Party.
As a moderate Republican, she voted with Democrats against the Kansas Senate Bill Substitute HB 2117, referred to as Gov. Sam Brownback's tax experiment, and supported Gov. Laura Kelly, saying that to her, it had nothing to do with political parties.
Bollier said her values and votes no longer fit with the current Republican Party and that she is proud of her move to the Democratic Party and ready to serve Kansas in Washington.
"Tonight I am here to listen to you, because my job as a U.S senator isn’t to take my agenda, it’s to take what you need to Washington so your voice can be heard," Bollier said.
Bollier puts trust in her 11 years in the Legislature and knowing the people of Kansas well and voting for their needs.
Bollier said Congress needs to come back together and communicate to pass another relief bill to bring unemployment insurance, paycheck protection programs and personal protective equipment to people and small businesses.
Bollier is currently three points ahead in the polls against Republican candidate Roger Marshall. Additionally, she has the endorsement of about 100 former and current Republicans.
When asked what she would do to address the labor shortage due to current immigration policies, Bollier answered that a more accessible means to citizenship needs to be found.
Bollier said the Kansas economy is dependent on immigrants and that one in 10 Kansans is an immigrant. She said she has met with several businesses that are suffering because the current immigrant policy keeps them from finding employees.
Bollier also supports giving students who are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program the opportunity to receive in-state tuition if they are on a path to citizenship.
"And of course, we should have safe borders, that is a given, but we don’t just have to build walls," Bollier said. "What we need to do is bring our immigration system up to the 21st century and make sure that those that are protecting our borders have what they need to do that effectively and efficiently."
Bollier said it is important to maintain the Medicare system by keeping money for Medicare in Medicare.
She said everyone needs accessible health care and a public option buy-in.
"If you have private health insurance and you like it, keep it," Bollier said. "We should maintain that."
Bollier said the U.S. needs to be able to be like Canada when it comes to negotiating with pharmaceutical companies in order to bring down drug prices.
When asked to speak about the environment, Bollier said that Democrats and agricultural producers have a common consensus that they need the environment but do not need overregulation.
"We need to be able to bring our farmers and ranchers to the table as we can talk about climate issues so that we can move forward," Bollier said.
Bollier supports Kansas as a leader in wind energy, from the construction of turbines that give people jobs to helping manage climate, and that the state has potential to be the second-best producer of wind energy in the country.
"My commitment is to reduce carbon output, have a goal for whatever legislation gets passed to reduce it by 50% in 10 years," Bollier said. "My hope is that we will do better than that, just like what we did in Kansas with wind energy."