Laura Lombard, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House from the Kansas Fourth District, knows it is a challenge going up against Republican incumbent Congressman Ron Estes in the Nov. 3 general election.
But she is moderate with a business background and she believes that will fit well with the district.
Lombard is a fifth generation Kansan and third-generation graduate of the University of Kansas where she earned her bachelor’s degree in political science. She earned her Master of Arts degree in international relations and economics at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
She started an international business development organization in Washington, D.C called MENA Consultants Association in 2012. More recently, she built an online workforce development company called ImEpik and consulted for the Clean Energy Business Council in Kansas.
She has put together a rural development board.
"We have people from different counties in the district," Lombard said. "We’re developing a rural economic development plan that will consist of rural broadband, child care, roads, rural health, those types of issues that we believe will revitalize and give new life to our communities going forward."
Lombard has a Sumner County connection.
"The town of Mulvane is named after one of my ancestors who brought the railroad to this part of Kansas," she said. "They wanted to honor his entrepreneurship and economic drive in the region."
The district has a great aviation center, but she would like to expand jobs so there are other opportunities for people when there’s a dip in aviation.
"We could be doing more with clean energy," she said. "We just did a tour of clean energy projects in the last two days of energy projects around Wichita and rural counties."
Lombard also sees education as an investment and supports universal pre-K education.
"We know that kids that have pre-K do better with their careers," she said. "They’re less likely to become teen parents, less likely to end up incarcerated. So it’s an investment for the child, but also for society, to start them early."
She also wants to find ways to relieve debt for higher education.
When you come out of school $60, $80, $100,000 in debt, from the get go that prevents you from maybe starting a family as fast as you want to, buying a home as fast as you might, starting a business that you otherwise might’ve started," Lombard said. "You starting in the hole. That’s bad for the individual, but that’s also bad for our economy as a whole. There’s a lot of economic activity that could’ve started, otherwise."
She looks at education as an investment for our society, "a way that’s going to move our country forward and keep us as one of the most innovative and strongest economies in the world."
She also wants to see all Americans have access to affordable healthcare.
"It could be a Medicare-for-all program," she said. "It could be what Europe and other countries have. There’s different ways to do it. It’s an investment into our nation’s health as a whole."
As a new parent to an infant son, Lombard said her perspective is different.
"My policy positions haven’t evolved that much but they’re coming from a different motivation in terms of really wanting him and his generation to have the world that I think they should have," she said.
In a year in which a woman is running for vice-president on the Democratic ticket, Lombard said she is excited "that I’m part of a 5 women federal slate this year out of Kansas."
Democrat Sharice Davids is running for another Congressional term, representing Kansas’s third district. Kali Barnett is running as a Democrat in Kansas’s first district. Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla is running as a Democrat for Kansas’s second district and Barbara Bollier, a member of the Kansas state Senate who switched from the Republican to Democratic party in 2018, is running to fill retiring U.S. Senator Pat Roberts’ seat.
"Both men and women can be great leaders but what I do think is that we need more women in Congress and in all areas of politics," she said. "We represent 50 percent of the population. We come from a different perspective and that perspective needs to be represented as well."