This year’s election has been one of the most contentious in history, both nationally and here in Kansas.
As the votes have been counted and the winners declared, there are many things we need to focus on. First, we need to focus on governing not just campaigning. We need lawmakers to focus on our state’s immediate needs, including economic recovery. We also need lawmakers who are willing to work with each other and for Kansas.
Kansas’ economic recovery should be a top concern for Kansas leaders headed into the 2021 legislative session. Our communities are hurting. We need to grow our state’s economy. We need a Department of Commerce that aggressively markets our state. We need state leaders who make this a priority.
We need state leaders who remember that Kansas is made up of 105 counties that each have their own unique character and history. There is no one size fits all way to address issues in our state, with what’s best for Johnson County or Sedgwick County not being what’s best for Grant County and Ellis County, and vice versa.
Rural Kansas is of particular concern to me and it should be of concern to all of our state’s leaders, no matter where you are from. Our rural communities are the backbone of Kansas and we need to address the needs of rural Kansas, so these communities can be revitalized and prosper.
We need a rural broadband plan in place. We need lower property taxes and electricity rates. We need an economic development and tourism marketing campaign that will aggressively promote our rural communities.
To achieve any good rural agenda, we need our state’s leaders to spend time in our rural communities and listen to the business leaders and the community. We need state leaders willing to break out of the Topeka bubble and spend time in communities not like their own.
Speaking of the Topeka bubble, we need leaders who remember that they were elected by their neighbors and that’s who they should be listening to, along with people in other areas of the state. They should also be talking and listening to their colleagues and to all stakeholders in the legislative process. This can provide valuable technical information.
At the same time, they should not worry about what the Topeka bubble thinks or what Twitter thinks about every vote or every discussion.
Our state leaders should also remember that they work for the people of Kansas, not the Washington, D.C., special interests or people in communities around the country. It is no secret that money has flowed into state legislative candidates this year from people in towns around the country. What’s important is that our lawmakers represent Kansas and not California or Washington.
Kansas has many issues facing our state leaders and our newly elected leaders need to buckle down and focus. The campaign is over, and now is the time to do the hard work and make the tough decisions.
The future of our state is riding on it.
Wink Hartman is the CEO of the Hartman Group of Coss in Wichita and was the 2018 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor.