Representative Dennis Hedke (R) faced some rough criticism as the guest speaker at a round-table forum hosted by “Educate Andover,” on Thursday.

Representative Dennis Hedke (R) faced some rough criticism as the guest speaker at a round-table forum hosted by “Educate Andover,” on Thursday.

Parents, grandparents, teachers and board of education members were among those who questioned Hedke about his voting history as the District 99 representative and what his plans are if he is elected.

Hedke was appointed to his seat in 2011, then went on to win the seat in the 2012 election. He has been married for 33 years to his wife, Annette, and is a geophysicist who co-owns a consulting business for oil and gas exploration.

“Having served four years now, I feel like my political perspective has changed quite a bit,” said Hedke. “I am not going to be a lifer in the Kansas legislature, but I feel like I have unfinished business in Topeka.”

Several people who attended the forum were upset with his vote in the last session that took away teacher tenure and due process for termination. Several spoke out against adding those items, at the last minute, to a bill that was meant to fund education. Despite the criticism, Hedke defended his vote.

“The point I want to make about due process, and the movement we took to allow local districts to deal with their own problems, my personal belief is that it will, in 10 years time, bring us to a better place,” said Hedke.

Hedke said by allowing districts to get rid of teachers who aren’t performing up to par, you are left with only the best equipped teachers for the job. He also praised Andover for their quality of education and teaching staff, and said he wanted to help districts like Andover retain the best and brightest educators.

“One of the key things I try to emphasize is to give the ability to the districts to reward good teachers and high quality in the classroom,” said Hedke. “We have to offer incentives to keep the best ones here and bring them into the district. It is not an easy task.”

There was also comment from one man that Hedke didn’t vote to enhance education funding until the Kansas Supreme Court said it had to be done and another who was upset that $10 million was allocated for private scholarships and not put into public education.

“The focus was to get disadvantage families to a place where they could do better,” said Hedke.

Hedke also told the group he believes in communication and is glad they followed the issues so closely. He proposed holding quarterly meetings with school administrators, teachers and parents so he would know where they stand on the issues.

“In the middle of session you have things to consider, after session you have things to discuss, and again in December there are things to talk about before the session gets started,” said Hedke.

Hedke’s Republican challenger is Randy Banwart and there are no Democrats running. That means whichever candidate wins the primary election on Aug. 5, will most likely be the District 99 representative.