Politics & Government

Rodney Wren launches campaign for House seat being vacated by Jo Ann Pottorff

Rodney Wren is a teacher and debate coach at Wichita Collegiate high school, and he defines himself as a free-market conservative.

That may explain why he says taxes and education are the key issues in his bid for the 83rd District seat in the Kansas House of Representatives.

During a kickoff rally Saturday at the Beech Lake picnic ground in east Wichita, Wren said he got into the race to provide a conservative alternative to moderate Republican Jo Ann Pottorff, who has since announced that she is retiring. No other candidates have filed for the office, a predominantly Republican district that takes in Eastborough and parts of east Wichita.

Wren last week won his first challenge to the office when a state panel ruled that he legally established residency in the district when he moved in with his fiancee in last summer,

Wren, 31, who is divorced with a 10-year-old son, said he sees no irony in a conservative Republican living with a woman he’s not yet married to.

“This election shouldn’t be about which candidate has led the more storybook-type life,” he said. “This election should be about how to we move Kansas in a direction that encourages businesses to come here and people to come here.”

Wren said the state’s current tax structure discourages economic growth.

“The only way we’re going to start attracting businesses and jobs to Kansas is to fundamentally reform the tax code,” he said. “We have to move from a tax on production to a tax on consumption. We have got to have a tax code that encourages people to move here and businesses to move here, and that encourages small-business startups.”

In the education debate, he said, one side always seems to be complaining about cuts to education while the other side argues that school taxes already are too high. He said neither side seems interested in sitting down and calculating exactly how much it costs to educate Kansas students.

“I want to figure out how much it takes, and then let’s fund it,” he said.