xSteven Hedrick is no politician.
A 25-year-old student at the University of Central Missouri, Hedrick said his true passion is music.
Every Friday night in high school, he took his dad’s old CD player to the town’s gazebo. It had a karaoke function that satisfied his need to sing.
Now, in Warrensburg karaoke circles, the people know Hedrick as “Steven King.”
“I’m not no politician,” he said. “I’m actually an aspiring singer.”
So why is he running for Congress in a district he’s never lived in and knows little about?
“To get the Libertarians at least 2 percent,” Hedrick said honestly, referring to the Missouri requirement that a party garner at least 2 percent of the vote to maintain ballot status.
That same honesty, friends say, is his greatest asset in this election.
“People see that he’s not a politician and he’s honest,” said Randy Langkraer, a friend of Hedrick’s who is running for Congress in the 5th District.
It was through karaoke at a bar one night that Hedrick met Langkraer. They became friends, and soon Hedrick started helping with political campaigns. He became hooked when he attended a Libertarian Party meeting in Kansas City back in 2005 and learned about the party’s views.
“If the country is going to run us instead of us running the country, I think we ought to have at least honest people in office,” he said.
In 2004, Hedrick spent roughly 40 to 60 hours going door to door, handing out fliers for the party.
“Every free moment he had, he was going and handing out fliers,” Langkraer said.
As a reward for his dedication, leaders in the Libertarian Party decided to let him run for a spot in 2006. Originally, he planned on running for a county position. But as time wound down to fill slots, members of the Libertarian Party found themselves in desperate need of a “placeholder candidate” in the 9th District.
“We’re always desperate for candidates,” Langkraer said. He concedes that Hedrick isn’t familiar with all the issues, but that isn’t the main priority.
“He’s up on the most important issue, which is to reform the government,” he said. “All the other issues need to be set aside so we can work on that.”
It’s obvious at the beginning of an interview that Hedrick is new to this. He’s nervous at first, sitting straight up and fumbling with his hands. When he’s asked a question about a political issue, he occasionally glances at Langkraer, who serves as his political mentor and adviser. Hedrick becomes more comfortable as time goes on, though, relaxing in his chair and throwing his arm over the back of it. Still, his answers to tough questions often lack substance.
Hedrick grew up in Independence with two brothers and a sister, where his life had a bumpy start.
After a fight with between his father and mother on Christmas Day, 1986, Hedrick’s mother walked out.
“They yelled at each other,” Hedrick said. “I went in my room and cried, and she left. I yelled for her to come back. She didn’t change her mind.”
He was 6.
After his mom left, Hedrick’s father struggled to take care of the four children.
“My older brother was watching me all the time because my dad was always working,” he said.
Despite his best efforts, his dad was unable to support the family financially, and they moved into Hedrick’s aunt’s house, where he spent his high school years.
A deeply religious woman, his aunt encouraged Hedrick to attend Corder Baptist Church, where he taught Sunday school to fifth-graders, he said. Hedrick said he grew frustrated with his aunt’s religious persistence and rules, and eventually, she asked him to leave the house.
He spent the next few years moving frequently and working odd jobs before finding work at Johnson County Care Center. At the insistence of his father’s girlfriend, he decided to apply to the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg to study music.
Hedrick said music has always been a part of his life.
When he was a teenager, his father started taking him to concerts every week. Afterward, Hedrick would go and talk to band members, who would encourage him to continue with singing.
In high school, he sang at talent shows and in the choir, and he was awarded the Most Dedicated to Music Award his senior year.
“The day I graduated, my music teacher was crying,” he said.
He began his first semester in August. But he dropped the major upon finding out that the curriculum included courses that required previous experience playing an instrument.
Now, he’s in search of another major, and he’s contemplating taking a political science class next semester.
Meanwhile, you’ll still be able to find him down at Warrensburg’s East Pine Pub on Friday nights, singing his heart out karaoke-style. He’s trying to balance the life of a college student and a candidate.
But he’s “not no politician.”
CAMPAIGN PHONE: 660-429-2516
CAMPAIGN WEB SITE: votestevenforchange.com
POSITION SOUGHT: U.S. House of Representatives for the 9th District
PERSONAL: 25 years old; he is single.
OCCUPATION: Student at University of Central Missouri
EDUCATION: Currently enrolled at CMSU, studying music
BACKGROUND: Volunteers at a nursing home in Higginsville. He enjoys music, particularly singing.