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.
Steve is a retired engineer who served eight years as an elected official on the Kansas State Board of Education. He is a Professional Engineer and is now a licensed teacher in Kansas with three endorsements on his license: mathematics, physics, and earth/space science. His bachelor’s degree is in electrical engineering. His master’s degree is in education. He lives in Overland Park and works as a math tutor and a Lyft driver. After the election, if unsuccessful, Steve will retire to a mathematics classroom. If successful, Steve will be moving to Topeka.
Campaign website/Facebook/Social Media:
If you are elected, what are the first three things that you want to accomplish?
First, let members of the staff know that continuity is important. We are not looking to make changes in the reporting of where the money goes, which is the basic responsibility of the treasurer’s office. The Kansas State Treasurer is essentially an administrative position, with just a bit of executive quality to it. Our auditors and accountants need to have ample time and access to data to file reports in a timely fashion and to ensure the readability of those reports. Our job is not to say where the money should go. Rather, it is to report where the money does go.
Second, build a stronger and wider bridge between the governor and the department of education. The commissioner, Dr. Randy Watson, and the Kansas State Board of Education need to have a wider and more flexible conduit to the legislature (who controls the purse strings) and the governor, whether it’s Kelly or Schmidt (or even Cordell). With my familiarity with the board and the commissioner (I am proud to say I helped hire Dr. Watson) I can build those necessary bridges to actually make positive changes to “the system.”
Third, let people in the field understand that fundamental changes to “the system” can be positive for both teachers and students. Kansan families deserve better. We can pay teachers higher salaries and have smaller early primary classes without raising taxes. I am serious. Our state spends two-thirds of its budget on education. We allocate about 52% of the total budget to K-12 schooling and another 14% on post-secondary education, for colleges, universities, trade schools and the like. I speak the language of educators. I can build the necessary bridges to genuinely change things for the better. We should have excellent schooling for any family, for any student, for any child who desires it. Presently that is not the case.
What do you think is the main role of the state treasurer?
The principal function of the treasurer’s office is to tell citizens where their money goes. Of course, there are varied functions within the treasurer’s office, from return of lost property, to service of municipal bonds. Markets need to know we favor continuity. The changes this candidate wants to make are in schooling, not on the reporting of expenditures. We also give counsel to decision makers. I am a Libertarian; I do not favor one major political party over the other. Learning Quest is an interesting aspect within the domain of the office; investors may lose money, as described within the offerings from American Century. My understanding is that such losses rarely, if ever, happen. My take on Learning Quest is this: if you can put money aside monthly for your kids’ college, you probably do not need Learning Quest to assist you in that endeavor. If you’re a good little saver, you can be successful on your own.
Why should people vote for you?
I know how to fix schools. That can be considered an audacious claim, I realize. But I have been at the business of education for 30 years, and there are genuine flaws in the system. I even taught for a year on an Indian reservation, the Kickapoo Nation School in Powhattan, in Brown County, Kansas. I know the lay of the land. In politics, you have to be in sales first and foremost. As an engineer and as a math teacher, admittedly, I often get more more quickly to actual solutions than some other candidates would be inclined to do. I am committed to make good on the vision I helped form during my service on the State Board of Education: Kansas Leads the World in the Success of Each Student.
Additional comment from Steve Roberts:
There is also a document that citizens should avail themselves to, which can be found at the campaign website; it is only two pages:
To this day, Dr. Randy Watson (Kansas Commissioner of Education) keeps a laminated copy of this document on his desk in Topeka.