I am a fifth-generation Kansan, brought up milking cows and cutting wheat on a family farm in western Kansas. As the middle child of two teachers, I was raised with an appreciation for hard work, community involvement, education and service. My parents, in addition to teaching and farming, served their community on local boards, as coaches, mentors, and in the case of my mother, as the first female mayor of Hays, KS. Having a debate coach for a mother, two siblings, and a politically involved father also taught me that it is okay to disagree but it is not okay to not talk about our disagreements.
My roots are important to me. They taught me that with hard work and the support of those around you, no challenge is too great.
After high school I came to Topeka to earn my degree in computer science with a minor in math from Washburn University. I grew to love the area and decided to make it my home. I’ve been here now for more than two decades. Several years ago, I knew that it was time for me to become more involved in my community and stepped forward to serve on the Topeka City Council in addition to numerous boards and commissions. Serving in that capacity allowed me to interact with citizens from all over the city and see government in action. When I started we had just gone through multiple credit downgrades, largely stemming from how the city reacted to the Great Recession. We had no money in the coffers and too many neglected departments and areas of the city. We made some tough decisions, brought in some new people and turned the financial situation around, positioning Topeka for future growth for the first time in decades. It was tough, and not everyone agreed on everything, but through honest effort we were able to confront shortcomings and work to overcome them. Today Topeka has seen multiple credit upgrades and won awards for budgetary accounting and transparency.
Like many of you I have grown increasingly frustrated with the current state of our political system. After the 2016 election, I stepped back and took stock of where we were as a country. I, like many of you, found myself increasingly motivated to change the direction of our country and not just with regard to the other side but also with my own Democratic party. I have seen first-hand how we struggle to reach people who should be inclined to receive our message. I see how there is a large community of people out there who feel disconnected from the political process and their own elected officials and choose to disengage out of frustration. I want to reach those people along with those who have been engaged from the beginning. I believe to reach those people and to inspire others to reach out we need to change the way we interact with voters. For too long we have been afraid to champion our ideals for fear that someone might find reason to disagree. Getting along to get along doesn’t change what needs to be changed.
I believe in constructive discussion of the issues. It doesn’t have to be combative but it does have to contain substance. I believe access to health care should be a right of all Americans as it is everywhere else in the developed world. I believe that young people who are willing to put in the hard work required to earn a degree in higher education shouldn’t have to be tied to mountains of debt. I believe we can find reasonable legislation on gun control that doesn’t impede on individual rights but does require more responsible gun ownership. I believe we need to address our crumbling infrastructure that has been neglected for decades. Those and many other issues should be the focus of this campaign, not political gamesmanship and simplistic marketing tactics.
I ask for your support in bringing substantive conversation back to the electoral process first. If you find yourself agreeing with me more often than not, I ask for your support in the voting booth.