Rep. Les Osterman will face at least two challengers to his seat in the Legislature this year.
Former Wichita City Council Member Stan Reeser, a Democrat, filed Monday to run for the House seat in District 97, which includes parts of southwest Wichita and Delano.
Republican Nick Hoheisel, 30, filed for the seat about a month ago. He’s a sales and media adviser for a pest control company and is running for public office for the first time.
Osterman, 68, plans to seek a fourth term.
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Both Reeser and Hoheisel are critical of the state’s finances under Gov. Sam Brownback.
“You get the feeling that people really want to start returning to our traditional Kansas moderate viewpoints and that includes strong schools and balancing the budget,” Reeser said Monday. “If we want to reverse the extremist policies of Gov. Brownback then you have to take out these ‘yes’ men and these ‘yes’ women who are currently holding Statehouse seats.”
Reeser says he wants to repeal last year’s state sales tax increase and end sweeps from the state’s transportation fund.
If we want to reverse the extremist policies of Gov. (Sam) Brownback then you have to take out these ‘yes’ men ... who are currently holding Statehouse seats.
Stan Reeser, Democratic candidate for House District 97
Reeser, 54, was a Wichita City council member from 1991 to 1995. He ran for the District 97 seat back in 1998 and lost to Dale Swenson.
He works for Via Christi as a supply clerk, or the “supply guy” for the hospital. He has served on the Wichita Transit Advisory Board for about a year and a half.
“We spent a good year trying to work out compromises,” Reeser said, referring to changes to Wichita’s Transit system. “We came up with a proposal to keep it going and it’s the art of the compromise. And that’s what I plan to take to Topeka.”
Hoheisel criticized state leaders for responding to Kansas’s budget woes with temporary fixes “instead of sitting down, showing leadership and solving this problem from the get go.”
Everything right now has to be on the table. We’re Republicans. We shouldn’t be running budget shortfalls.
Nick Hoheisel, Republican candidate for House District 97
“Everything right now has to be on the table,” he said. “We’re Republicans. We shouldn’t be running budget shortfalls.”
“I believe in low taxes,” he added. “But at some point, we shouldn’t be passing a tax break to LLCs off on working people, which is what we did last year.”
Hoheisel referred to how lawmakers increased the state sales tax last June while opting not to revisit the 2012 law that cut income taxes across the board and eliminated them for the owners of limited liability companies and some other businesses.
Both challengers criticized Osterman for not being tougher against Brownback.
“He kind of just goes to Topeka, does what the governor says and comes back home,” Hoheisel said. “I think we need legislators that will go to Topeka and when the governor is wrong, stand up and say, ‘No, governor, you’re wrong.’”
Osterman deflected that criticism late Monday afternoon.
I can’t say that I haven’t tried to stand up against Brownback. There’s just not enough of us that have said ‘enough is enough.
Les Osterman, a Republican and state representative in House District 97
“I can’t say that I haven’t tried to stand up against Brownback,” Osterman said. “There’s just not enough of us that have said ‘enough is enough.’”
He also cast doubt on Reeser’s chances in the general election.
“I know Stan’s going to have a tough time whether it’s going against me or Nick because of the amount of Republicans that are in this district,” Osterman said.
Voter registration in the district is 41 percent unaffiliated, 38 percent Republican, 20 percent Democratic and 1 percent Libertarian.