Wichita resident Gary Mason, who owns an environmental consulting and services firm, announced Tuesday that he plans to run in the Republican primary against Sen. Carolyn McGinn for a seat in the Kansas Legislature.
Mason, 55, is CEO of iSi Environmental, a Wichita company that he said he and his wife started in 1990 in their dining room. He said he decided about a month ago to run for office, concerned about Kansas’ economy.
He said he would work to lower income taxes for Kansas residents.
“We’ve learned from our hard work, and we’ve learned from our clients,” Mason said. “I think we need someone in Topeka that’s going to focus on jobs and not protecting government programs.”
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Asked if his announcement was in response to a push by some for a more conservative Kansas Senate, Mason said “I do think the Senate is a stumbling block as far as job creation and moving the state forward.”
Moderate forces in the Senate have blocked more conservative legislation from the House in the past. At least nine Senate Republican primary races are already shaping up, and observers say conservatives could claim control of the Senate with two to six victories next fall.
McGinn was first elected to the Senate in 2004 in District 31, which covers northeast Sedgwick County and all of Harvey County. Earlier, she was a Sedgwick County commissioner.
Mason was critical of McGinn, saying, “While I was in Wichita creating jobs and fighting to make payroll, my opponent was in Topeka raising your taxes.”
He said McGinn “raised your taxes so the state could spend even more” instead of living within its means.
McGinn noted that “in the last couple of years, we’ve actually been cutting (the state’s budget). I’ve worked alongside the governor to balance the budget. As chairman of the (Senate’s) Ways and Means Committee last year, we had some of the largest budget cuts in history.”
She also said that she has worked to cut corporate franchise and machinery and equipment taxes, among “ a number of other taxes that we have worked to reduce to be more encouraging for businesses to be here.”
McGinn said she plans to run again and likely will file later this month.
Mason is new to campaigning. He has been involved in the state and Wichita chambers of commerce.
He is married and has three children.
Mason is from St. Louis and said he moved to Wichita in 1982 to work for Vulcan Chemicals.
Chock Chapple, founder of CIG Insurance Group, will serve as Mason’s campaign treasurer.