TO RENEW THE KANSAS SPIRIT
I have been telling the story of western Kansas and western Kansans for more than 40 years. I have seen plenty of changes in that time, from the advent of an Interstate highway to the loss of talented young people as they look for better opportunities elsewhere.
We are living in changing times, not often of our own control or design. Our leadership in Topeka needs to understand the people of our region, how they want to continue the folkways, mores, and traditions of the mostly small towns, while realizing that in order to survive there must be acceptance and tolerance of the multiple viewpoints, cultures, and identifications of the young, the immigrant, and those on the margins of society.
As I’ve faced a crossroads in my career path, I’ve realized an opportunity to serve humanity is now front of me, one I’ve been seeking since a heart operation nine years ago gave me the ability to carry on with my life, but, for some reason, I’ve been seeking something greater than just writing stories.
Well, here it is. I’m running for State Senate from District 40 in Kansas.
Why am I running? Why me?
I’m running for the farmers of the biggest district in the state. These are farmers who truly care about leaving a legacy for their children and grandchildren. I especially admire the farmers who’ve recently turned a groundwater management district into a local enhanced management area. These people deserve our support and their efforts need to be expanded to save our precious groundwater for generations to come.
I’m running for local marketers who want to sell products raised on local farms and ranches, and further develop laws that will enable the Kansas Departments of Commerce and Agriculture to help them sell those products at maximum profits.
I’m running for the kids being taught in rural public schools who aren’t getting a fair shake from a Legislature that’s more interested in handing out income tax breaks to their wealthy big city donors than to making small schools the best they can be.
I’m running to make sure our technical colleges get adequate state funding, too. The jobs of the region will depend more on applied technology skills
We’re going back to the future to restore the three-legged stool to fund our state’s schools and other institutions.
Speaking of funding, I’m running to make sure the two largest state institutions, Fort Hays State University and Norton Correctional Facility get the funding they deserve. Nobody will ever say I did them wrong. Ever.
I’m running to help Main Street, whether in Hays or Weskan. Every local business is vital, every shopkeeper is important. I will do my best to make sure our towns are thriving.
I’m running to get our roads fixed. Yes, Johnson County is growing people, but District 40 grows crops to feed people in Johnson County and the world. Without good roads, we can’t get crops to market.
And yes, I am running to help Gov. Laura Kelly go back to the future. We will fund all this with a system of revenue production and outlays that are, in the words of her predecessor, the late Gov. Robert Docking, “austere but adequate.”
For too many years, our legislators have concentrated on issues that work to separate us into opposing camps. Now it is time to fully bind up the wounds of division we’ve suffered over the last few years and to renew the Kansas spirit of cooperation and mutual intent. This is the same spirit that gave us good people serving this district over the years, and it gave us some lousy ones, too.
I intend to be one of the good ones. I’ll be beholden to no one but my voters. I just want to take care of this district. The people of Northwest Kansas, who used to be my faithful readers and viewers, now could use a little faithful stewardship of their money in Topeka. I intend to do that.
Hope this explains it. Now, let’s get running and renew the Kansas spirit.
“There are very few media people in the country, let alone Kansas, who truly understand farm policy and what it means to the country at large; I’m mean, who really get it. Well, Larry Dreiling gets it.” —U.S. Senator Pat Roberts