Two political newcomers are running to become the Republican candidate for a House seat left vacant by redistricting.
Bridget Schneider and Dan Hawkins seek the House District 100 seat formerly held by Mario Goico in western Wichita. The winner of the Aug. 7 primary will face Democrat John Willoughby in November.
Redistricting shifted the boundaries of District 100 to include parts of District 90, 94 and 105. Goico was placed in District 94, where he is running unopposed. About 45 percent of District 100 remains the same as before.
Schneider, a stay-at-home mom who grew up on a farm in Lebo, has lived in the district for seven years.
She decided to run for office after seeing friends lose their jobs and families move out of state for work.
“That pulls on my heartstrings,” she said. “The economy needs to be jumpstarted.”
To do so, Schneider wants to continue Brownback’s tax and spending cuts. She doesn’t think it will be difficult to find areas in which to cut spending.
“There’s a lot of waste in government,” she said. “There are a lot of areas we can do with less.”
She could not say for certain what areas could be cut. She also did not offer specifics about what areas of the state budget would be a priority for her. She said she would learn should she become elected.
“I don’t think it’s necessary for me to speak in specifics right now,” Schneider said. “I’m not going to say things that I’m not yet comfortable with, if I haven’t grasped all the information. I think it’s important that I learn and grow before I make a specific decision.”
Schneider said it’s important to create jobs, reduce taxes and reduce regulations on small businesses.
She offered the way she runs her own family as an example.
“We’re a cash-only family — we don’t spend what we don’t have,” Schneider said. Kansans should expect the same from her regarding the state budget, she said.
“Nothing is sacred when the funds aren’t there.”
As for education, Schneider, a former elementary schoolteacher, doesn’t think schools need more money.
“We can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results,” she said. Teachers “don’t need more money, they need less restrictions.”
Hawkins takes a slightly different approach to education but agrees that the education budget doesn’t need to be increased.
“Throwing more money doesn’t solve the problem,” Hawkins said. “Maybe what we need to do is to start looking at some of the internal parts of the school.”
Hawkins has owned his own insurance business for 21 years. He said he would bring a business approach to education and suggested possibly combining school districts to find efficiencies.
“Before we cut or add to our education budget, wouldn’t it be nice to know if the system itself is operating properly?” he said.
Hawkins would apply this business logic to other areas of government.
“There are a lot of places where we can make government more efficient,” he said. “I don’t necessarily think cutting is the answer, but we have to have a balanced budget.”
Like Schneider, Hawkins doesn’t have specific areas he would cut. He said changes in taxes and regulations would encourage businesses to come to Kansas.
On taxes, Hawkins would like to see relief for grocery sales taxes and property taxes. He also is intrigued by the flat tax and “fair tax” models.
Should a “fair tax” be proposed in the House, Hawkins said he would support it.
One area Hawkins would like to focus on is getting health care for the uninsurable.
Hawkins, who has specialized in employee benefits for 11 years, opposes the Affordable Healthcare Act and thinks health care should be administered at the state level.
“In Kansas, we have the ability to do that right now,” he said. “Instead of redoing the entire system, why don’t we subsidize that system and help the uninsurable?”