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.
I grew up in rural Nebraska on a farm. From there I went to University of Nebraska – Lincoln and received a degree in finance. After starting my career, I moved to Kansas and accepted a position with the Federal Land Bank and began financing the agricultural dreams of Kansans. I met my wife, Kris, while at UNL. We made the move to Wichita together, where she was a teacher. We raised 3 kids together, and they turned out pretty great. I was elected to the Wichita School Board in 2001 and served for almost 17 years. I then ran for State Senate, changing my affiliation to the Democratic party in light of the financial crisis the state was going through in 2016. After my time in the State Senate, I joined the gubernatorial ticket as Lt. Governor, and served in that position from 2019 until I was appointed as the State Treasurer in January of 2021.
Campaign website/Facebook/Social Media:
If you are elected, what are the first three things that you want to accomplish?
I would like to immediately work with the Legislature to approve a COLA increase to KPERS. Now that Republicans have finally made good on the 15 payments that impacted over $845 million in KPERS accounts – it’s time to actually keep the promise we made to Kansas workers and be there for them in their retirement. Then we need to look at how we help Kansas families as a whole – housing availability and costs, being able to access education and health care opportunities, and actually be able to retire.
For years, over $60 million in housing assistance sat dormant because previous Treasurers wouldn’t prioritize it and fix the program so it could be used. We need to work with the Legislature to make it accessible to people who truly need it and not just something that helps people that already have money. Access to safe, affordable housing is essential for the health of the state. This program could make a huge impact on access to housing for Kansans. Secondly, I want to see an expansion to ABLE account eligibility. ABLE accounts allow individuals with disabilities to save for the future without jeopardizing their income. Currently, you have to have developed your disability before the age of 26 to access an ABLE account, but I believe it doesn’t matter when you develop your disability, you should have access to the support structures that exist. Finally, I want to continue to update the Treasurer’s Office technology systems to provide better service to the public as we perform the duties of the Office.
What do you think is the main role of the state treasurer?
The State Treasurer is the People’s Banker. I manage the bank accounts for the state, as well as facilitate the lending programs, serve on the KPERS board of trustees, and advocate for economic and financial policies that benefit the public. We also serve as the bank for the Kansas Board of Regents – and we need to do a lot more to work with our colleges, universities and trade schools that were neglected under GOP leadership. As an independently elected official, we have a responsibility to advocate and support an array of state policies.
Why should people vote for you?
I’m committed to doing the job for all Kansans. Previous occupants of this position have neglected basic updates, compliance guidelines, and their duty to the public while in search of higher office. I have a history in agricultural finance that enables me to represent the interests of Kansas, and have toured the state in order to know what Kitchen Table issues Kansans care about. Voting for me is voting for a proven State Treasurer who has been working to support Kansans through the drought impacting the state, to address the housing crisis, and protect Kansas’ investments. We’ve gotten a lot done in the last two years, and I will work to make the next four even better. After tens of thousands of miles, hundreds of visits to communities, and direct support for schools, teachers, schools, farmers, and seniors we have put billions in investments into the people of Kansas. A vote for me is a vote to continue this work for Kansas.