U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler is vacating the Fourth Congressional District seat she’s held for more than a decade.
Hartzler’s run for U.S. Senate has left her House seat open in the November election, with seven Republicans rushing in to fill the vacuum. But they must win the August primary before they can move on to take on the Democratic and Libertarian candidates in November.
Bill Irwin is one of two candidates from Hartzler's hometown of Harrisonville. He's running in part on his military experience and Missouri roots.
Deborah Kendrick: Give us an introduction to who you are. I know you're a Mizzou grad, you're a Missourian.
Bill Irwin: Yes, ma'am. Well, I'm also a retired Navy SEAL. I spent 33 years in the United States Navy. I’m a retired Lee’s Summit police officer. I'm an Eagle Scout. Yes, I am a graduate of University of Missouri. And I think the most important thing people need to know for my foundation of what I'm going to make decisions on is I am a Bible-believing Christian, I believe this is the infallible, inerrant word of God. So that's me in a nutshell.
Kendrick: You mentioned military experience. You were a retired police officer. How are you going to bring that experience into Congress?
Irwin: I think it's going to help me a lot. And because I am a strategic planner. I graduated from the United States Naval War College with a master's in national security strategy, so I can plan and I'm a team builder, SWAT teams, SEAL team, I know how to bring together the best, smartest people to make a plan. And then being a frogman, I am a decisive executor. I know how to execute a plan. And that's what we got to do to save our country.
Kendrick: What is your approach to gun violence? What are some of your solutions? And how can we hopefully prevent this from happening?
Irwin: You know, the biggest thing is the evil and wickedness inside men's hearts. And that's because we've gotten away from this (points to Bible). And we need to push more the love of the love of Christ, rather than the hate. And we got two people out there that are pushing issues, you got one that's pushing, deceptions lies discord among the brethren. And another that's pushing love, joy, peace. So you got, in my view, you got the devil, and you got Jesus Christ, fighting for the hearts and souls of our children, because they're going after our kids. And we need to change that and change our dialogue and the way we talk to each other. Both sides need to come together and talk. I sat down with the Taliban in Afghanistan and talked with them saying, “Okay, how do we work this out so that you don't come in and rape the women and kill the children? And if you don't work something out, we're going to come back and have a different conversation,” which was what we did. But we got to be able to talk both sides of the aisle, there's too much hate.
Kendrick: Are you in support of (gun legislation that) was just passed? What's your thought on some of the progress that we have been making here?
Irwin: You know, I'm a cop, retired. So I'm a big law guy. Number one, we got to enforce the laws that we have, we have so many laws on the books that the cops are having a hard time going, “Well, can I do it? Can I not? If I take off the gloves and do my job, am I going to jail?” So we got to make it so our police officers can do their job because they want to, but they also want to take care of their families. And so the gun laws, it's a long thread that in two minutes, we're not going to be able to discuss. I'm a Second Amendment guy. I believe that our founding fathers made the Second Amendment so we could defend ourselves against extremist governments.
Kendrick: We're more politically divided than we have been in a long time, at least in modern American history. How can Congress get meaningful work done for the American people and for Missourians, and how can you possibly be a part of that?
Irwin: It's team building. We got to work together. I may not agree with everything you said. I was knocking on doors today. And I ran into one gentleman, and he was from England a long time ago, and we disagreed. But you know what? We sat there and talked for about three or four minutes and just said, “Okay, well, good,” but we talked and that's where we got to talk with other people. And I got to ask you, why do you feel that way? And then listen to you. I need to listen, and I need to bring on the MIZ-ZOU with that too, to let them know, I'm not always dour and all that kind of stuff. I can be a cheerleader -- and I was -- and I can be a tiger if I need to be.