Navajo woman seeks to become youngest member of Kansas Legislature
Updated: Jun 2, 2020
"It is important for young people, especially our Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiians, to understand their true purpose in life. Your passion defines your character and gives you the ability to meander through whatever lays in your path. After you know your purpose, you will have an innate sense of responsibility to uphold your commitment to those that you love the most."
Freddy Gipp, CEO - Lead Horse LLC
Thursday marked the beginning of Christina Haswood's entrance into the political arena.
Haswood, a Democrat, is running for a seat in the Kansas House of the 10th District and seeks to become one of the youngest members of the Kansas Legislature - if elected - at age 26.
"I want to bring public health expertise” said Haswood. “Especially at a trying time such as this [COVID-19]. I believe I am a qualified voice for rural health, sustainability and infrastructure, with the overall purpose of protecting Mother Earth.”
“I also believe it's time to expand Medicaid, and it’s long overdue. There is no excuse as to why we are missing out on Federal funding that can provide over 130,000 Kansans with health insurance.”
Haswood, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, is a lifelong resident of Lawrence, Kansas and the 10th District, attending Prairie Park Elementary, Billy Mills Middle School (formerly known as South Junior High), Lawrence High School and Haskell Indian Nations University, where she graduated in 2014 with her Associate’s in Community Health.
After Haskell, she enrolled into Arizona State University and graduated with her Bachelor’s in Public Health. This month, Haswood went on to receive her Master’s in Public Health with an emphasis in Public Health Management from the University of Kansas Medical Center.
“One of the most important values that we have as Natives, is that we are told to get our education and come back to help our communities,” Haswood said.
“Especially being an urban Native, I have two homes, one in the Navajo Nation and one here in Lawrence.”
Throughout her academic career, Haswood has been engaged at each level of government, helping local, national and tribal organizations, such as Native Health in Phoenix, the Arizona Department of Health Services, Indian Health Services, The Navajo Nation and many others, disseminate data to understand complex problems within health such as diabetes and suicide prevention.
And with each internship, came a different problem, which has only provided her with the necessary experience she believes is needed to represent the 10th District.
“It is important to branch out and see how others operate, whether it is in a different state, or in [Washington] D.C., understanding how the federal system works. We gain these experiences then come back, and apply it to our communities.”
Haswood currently serves as a Research Assistant for the National Council of Urban Indian Health, based in Washington D.C., and the Center for American Indian Community Health, which is a part of the KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas.
“When you look at healthcare, we can identify risk factors early in people’s lives, where you can intervene and make a difference. I am passionate about using preventative medicine and measures and believe through education, with all the tools they need, to make healthy and informed decisions.”
The 10th District, which includes portions of Lawrence, Southeast Douglas County and the entirety of Baldwin City, two educational institutions (Haskell Indian Nations University and Baker University) and holds over 22,000 residents.
The vacancy was announced on April 24, when current incumbent, Representative Eileen Horn (D-Lawrence) informed that she would not be seeking re-election this year.
Horn, who has served as the 10th District representative since 2017, just recently endorsed Haswood and was able to be reached for comment during her final legislative session.
"We desperately need the voice and perspective of talented young people like Christina in elected office," Representative Horn said. "I'm certain she will bring great ideas and energy to the Kansas Legislature."
Haswood will be the youngest to represent the 10th District and only the second Native American member, if elected, this upcoming legislative session.
She enters the August 4 Democratic primary against two others, A.J. Stevens, a business owner and former Baldwin City councilman and Brandon Holland, manager of a small liquor store and son of Kansas State Senator, Tom Holland.
*** Lead Horse LLC is a non-partisan organization and does not endorse any candidate ***