WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — KSN News sent a questionnaire to each candidate facing a challenger in the November general election. We have not made any edits to the candidate’s answers.

Biographical Information:

Chuck Schmidt grew up on a dairy farm in Western Kansas. He attended the University of Kansas on a football and academic scholarship and graduated with a degree in secondary education with majors in history and government. After teaching and coaching for two years in the Topeka area he returned to the family dairy and wheat farm and partnered with his parents for 10 years. He then worked as a chemical dependency counselor and did prevention programs in schools before returning to teaching and coaching full time.

He received a Master’s Degree in School Administration from Fort Hays State University and a District Leadership Certification from Emporia State University. After 9 years of teaching and coaching in the Hays area, which included being named Kansas Track Coach of the Year, he returned to the Topeka area as an administrator serving as assistant principal, principal and then superintendent. He then served 10 years as superintendent in Independence, KS. At his retirement after 33 years in education he went back to teaching sixth grade social studies.

He has served as Chairman of the Southeast Kansas Superintendent’s Forum, was a two-time finalist for Kansas Superintendent of the Year and served in leadership positions in several educational organizations. In 2014 he graduated from the Kansas Chamber’s Leadership Kansas Program. He and his wife are active in All Saints Parish in Wichita.

In recent years he was a state officer in the Silver Haired Legislature and has served on the Wichita Public Library Board. In 2021 he was selected to fill the unexpired term of State Representative Elizabeth Bishop in the 88th District. Schmidt lives with his wife, Mary. She is a Wichita native and healthcare professional at the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center. They have 5 children and 7 grandchildren.

Campaign website/Facebook/Social Media:

Facebook: Chuck Schmidt Kansas House
Twitter: @cschmidt31

What do you think should be done to help Kansans dealing with high costs?

The best thing we can do is to return much of the state surplus to Kansans in the form of tax relief. We must eliminate the sales tax on food taking it to 0% as soon as possible. We can also help by providing property tax relief through the Ad Valorem Property Tax Relief Fund. I have signed on with a group of Democratic legislators who have proposed a three-pronged approach to reducing residential property taxes.

Share your thoughts on abortion rights and restrictions.

The voters spoke loud and clear on the amendment vote on August 2nd. We need to respect that vote and not try to legislate around it. There are current restrictions on abortion and we should not add any more.

Do you think KanCare should be expanded? Why or why not?

Absolutely yes. We are paying for it in other states and there is no reason we should not have it in Kansas other than some in leadership holding ideological beliefs ahead of the needs of Kansans. We have bipartisan agreement that mental health services need to be expanded, but until those 150,000 Kansans without insurance are finally insured, we will not make major improvements in mental or physical health. By expanding Medicaid, we also support our healthcare providers by enabling them to be reimbursed for services they are required to provide. And finally, we are already paying the cost of the uninsured by paying higher insurance premiums and or healthcare costs to make up for the 150,000 who receive emergency services without reimbursement to the provider.

What is your stance on the legalization of medical marijuana? Recreational marijuana?

I am fully supportive of legalizing medical marijuana. I recently talked to a parent who lost his daughter to cancer. She had previously been in a state that had legalization and she was able to alleviate some of the pain. When she moved back to Kansas to be near family, she could no longer get medical marijuana and suffered more than was necessary. I have some reservations about recreational marijuana that stem from my time as a chemical dependency counselor. However, I think it will eventually have to be legalized and at least then it can be regulated. The recent action by the President to pardon those convicted of possession of marijuana is a step in the right direction.

Share your thoughts about transgender athletes in sports.

This is a controversial issue for many and I don’t fully understand the transgender process. I am not in favor of boys competing in girls’ sports. I have coached both boys and girls for many years. However, what I do know is that those few kids who are transgender are at extremely high risk for suicide. I also know that there has only been one transgender girl that we know of who competed in girls’ sports in Kansas in the past 5 years. I don’t think we should make a law for such a minute number of cases. And because of the above mention of the high risk of suicide among transgender kids, I believe making a law that marginalizes them is a bad idea and will only lead to more suicides.

I also know that the Kansas State High School Athletic Association has established guidelines that any transgender athlete is required to follow for their entire high school athletic career. This assures that it is not just some boy deciding he can compete better in girls’ sports. It is my contention that at this time the KSHSAA guidelines are sufficient.

What are your thoughts on election integrity in Kansas? Across the United States? Would you change the election process and how?

Some have done a great disservice to the democratic process by casting doubt on every election that doesn’t go their way, and even some that do. I believe that our elections are fair with only minimal amount of fraud and that would not change any outcomes. As a previous poll worker, I have seen our election officials do a commendable job of insuring election integrity. I hope Kansas doesn’t get into the practice of selecting election officials who publicly state they will challenge election results if they don’t agree with them.

The only thing I would change about the election process is to make it as easy as possible to vote with early voting, mail in voting, drop boxes and simplified registration. I would also like to see an election holiday. I support anything we can do to encourage higher voter turnout while still maintaining process integrity.

What are the issues you would address for farmers and ranchers?

As a long time farmer and someone who has been endorsed by Farm Bureau, I have the utmost respect for the importance of agriculture in the Kansas culture and economy. We need to keep our roads and train tracks in good working order to allow for the fast and efficient transport of agricultural products. I would also support the state developing international markets for our farmers by working with other countries in need of our products.

As a member of the Water Committee, I have learned that we need to get irrigation farmers to understand that their supply of water will run out if major changes are not enacted soon in some parts of the state. I supported establishing a cabinet-level Water Department for that purpose. This committee has also supported providing some funding to help farmers reduce erosion near rivers and streams and at the same time reduce pollution of those rivers and streams.

What are the key education issues in Kansas for K-12? For universities?

I have been an educator for the past 33 years and have seen many changes in our educational system. My first concern is to reverse the achievement losses our students have displayed in the past couple of years due to the disruption of the pandemic. It will take some time to get back to the level our schools were before this time. Kansas has consistently been among the top ten states in almost every educational measurement pre-pandemic. Unfortunately, most other states had the same declines. We will need to be patient to let this process take place.

We need to continue to fully fund our K-12 educational system but also fully fund special education. We also need to stop the legislative and public bullying of educators that destroys morale. Until this stops, we will not increase the number of teachers and staff that are needed. In the last legislative session I introduced a bill to temporarily remove the KPERS penalty for retirees returning to the classroom. This would help with the teacher shortage. Unfortunately, this bill passed through committee but never reached the House Floor for a vote.

We must better fund our universities so they are not so dependent on continually rising tuition income. We also have to address the deferred maintenance issue on many campuses. This will take a sustained and well-planned effort which is a process the Board of Regents has begun.

What do you think needs to be done to promote social and racial justice?

Governor Kelly helped this situation in a major way by banning discrimination based on sexual orientation at the very beginning of her term. We also need to continue to support diversity in all aspects of our society. There is no room for discrimination of any kind against anyone. This is not only the right thing to do, but it is the smart thing to do. Younger generations tend to accept people as they are and they are not going to settle in a state that practices discrimination and lacks social justice. In Kansas we live and let live.