The push for more representation in Kansas politics

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – All 40 Kansas Senate and 125 Kansas House of Representative seats are up for election in November. There is a push on both sides to get more women and people of color represented in the Kansas government.

Currently, less than 30% of the Kansas legislature are women, and even fewer are people of color. Ahead of the next election, both Republican and Democratic candidates are fighting for more representation.

“When we have more of that diversity at the table, there’s more creativity, all of the voices are heard and we come up with better outcomes,” said Rachel Willis a Democratic candidate for the Kansas Senate.

Willis is running for a seat in the Senate, which currently has just 13 women. Her opponent, Representative Brenda Dietrich, is one of 34 women currently serving in the House of Representatives. Dietrich agrees that women and people of color need to be better represented.

“The more people you have at the table with diverse backgrounds and ethnicities and genders, makes the conversation just deeper and richer,” said Rep. Dietrich, R-Topeka.

But, she added, it’s getting people to run for office that is difficult.

“It can be kind of painful when you’re going through a primary or general election and you have an opponent,” she said. “It’s just a very new experience that some folks find uncomfortable.”

Christina Haswood is running unopposed for a seat in the Kansas House of Representatives. If elected, she would be one of two Native Americans in the Kansas legislature. Campaigning for Haswood has been difficult.

“Not only barriers of getting into this, but discrimination as well, which I faced during my primary,” explained Haswood.

Willis added that young people are also less represented in the Kansas legislature. She said retired Kansans may have more time and money to run a campaign and serve the state, if elected.

“We’re all so much younger and we’re at that point where we’re looking to make advancements in our careers and we have young children and all of these competing demands,” said Willis.

If elected, Haswood would be one of the youngest sitting legislators in the state. She says representation, not only for Native cultures, but young Kansans is important.

“Me being a young person, I don’t want to be the only one there, I need everyone else to come with me,” added Haswood.

The general election in on November 3, 2020, but the deadline to register to vote is October 13, 2020. To check your registration or to register to vote, click here.

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