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Longtime KC anchorman aims to be 'steward' of new congressional office

Posted at 5:00 AM, Jan 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-03 09:58:07-05

RAYMORE, Mo. — Missouri's 4th Congressional District is the only district in the state that will have a new representative in congress starting Tuesday.

Mark Alford, who spent more than 20 years as a television anchor in Kansas City, will take the oath of office in Washington, D.C., marking his first day in elected office.

"I had no idea two years ago that I would be doing this,” Alford said. “Sixteen months ago, this was not on my radar."

Alford has a famous face and a famous voice in Kansas City, so when he decided to leave television, he had options. Politics, specifically running for Congress, represented a big shift in his personal life.

“I wanted to do something for my country," Alford said.

Travel alone is a challenge. Alford says he and his wife Leslie have already picked apart the calendar, deciding which days he intends to be in Washington and which in the 4th District.

"I'm not moving to Washington, D.C.,” Alford said. “I don't want to be comfortable there. I'm going to sleep in my office."

Alford has specific areas he wants to tackle, including:

  • Rural broadband: “Only about 20% of our constituents have high-speed internet."
  • Military bases: “We have two strong military bases in the 4th Congressional District. We’re trying to get on the House Armed Services Committee and the Ag Committee, to make sure that our bases are protected.”
  • Farmers: “We need to get the EPA off their backs.”

But he also has goals for the skillset he says he has to offer.

“That's what I think I'm going to be able to do that other people don't have the advantage, not having been in the media,” Alford said. “I know how to tell stories."

During his campaign, Alford often referenced that he felt he was unable to say what he wanted to say during his time on television.

So, KSHB 41 asked him from which sources he believes his constituents should get information about his work in Washington as well as events in the rest of the world.

"We do have a wide variety,” Alford said. “And I am a voracious consumer of news and information. I watch CNN, MSNBC, Fox, NewsMax. You have to have a healthy diet, and that means a balanced diet of information, and then you make the determination. The more voices the better."

Alford, a Republican, recently attended President Donald Trump's winter gala at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Cass County Democratic Party Chair Kevin Rusnak issued a statement about Alford’s upcoming term, referencing the trip:

"We are hopeful that Representative-elect Alford will be a quick learner when it comes to knowing and understanding the needs of our district. As we saw nationwide during the 2022 midterms, the politics of division, lies and constant cultural wars is not what the people want in a leader.

"While Representative-elect Alford embraced the MAGA brand last weekend at Mar-A-Lago, we hope that in the future he will understand that he works for all the people in the 4th Congressional District, not the extremist right of the Republican party."

In response to Rusnak's thoughts, Alford assures he is in touch with his constituency.

"I have said from the get-go that when we win this office, I will represent all 770,000 people in this district,” Alford said. “I don't want people to come here and think this is a Republican congressman. I am the congressman for the 4th Congressional District. For all people. I'm listening to all people, everyone's concerns, everyone is equal when it comes to representation."

Alford says he knows he will make mistakes as he transitions into a job he's never held, comparing it to being a first-time parent.

"You can read all the books in the world, get all the advice, but until you take that baby home..." he said. "I'm going to try to be the best steward, I think that's a good word, the best steward I can be of this office."

KSHB 41 also spoke with Raymore Mayor Kristofer Turnbow about the transition to Alford from Vicky Hartzler, who has held the office since 2011.

"We feel like he does have our best interests in heart, and we're looking forward to working with him," Turnbow said. "There's always something that might pop up that we might need.

"We really do need to sit down and have that discussion, and see what resources at the federal level they can provide and what the true needs are here in our community."