Elections

Two challenge incumbent in 94th District election

Republican incumbent Rep. Joe McLeland is facing two challengers in the Aug. 3 primary: neighborhood consumer lender Wade Waterbury, and educator and wrestling coach Roy "Coach" Oeser.

District 94, on the west side of Wichita, also encompasses parts of Attica, Delano and Waco townships. There is no Democratic contender, so whoever wins the primary wins the seat.

McLeland, 63, was first elected to the 94th District in 2000. He sits on the House Appropriations Committee, chairs the House Education Budget Committee and is vice-chair of the Joint Committee on Information Technology. He has developed a reputation as a reliable conservative vote.

He said he isn't surprised to have primary challengers.

"You expect challengers and you have to take every challenger seriously," McLeland said.

During the session, McLeland voted against the smoking ban, the state sales tax increase and a budget plan that relied in part on $300 million from the sales tax increase to balance.

"I've never served trying to avoid opponents and have always done what I thought was the right thing to do for my district," he said. "I think I voted my district very well."

For Oeser — who has taught and coached in area schools for more than 20 years — those votes have not been a good fit. He is especially concerned about McLeland's comments on school funding.

Oeser, 52, disagrees with statements that schools had money and were doing well. During the session, some lawmakers considered lifting restrictions on some money that schools received to allow the dollars to go to general funds. He described the move as "robbing Peter to pay Paul," and said it would eventually cause problems.

Oeser, who has taught business education and marketing in Wichita high schools and coached wrestling at Maize High School, said he is not a strong supporter of increasing taxes, but "I am an advocate to have good strong schools."

"Our legislators have to go in the direction of supplying a strong work force for all industry to come to our state so there is economic growth," he said.

Oeser has a bachelor's degree in business education from Friends University, a bachelor's in business administration and petroleum land management from the University of Oklahoma and a master's of sports administration from Mankato State University.

Waterbury said he was motivated to run when he started looking at what the state was spending on education from kindergarten through the university level.

"The state keeps cutting back on education," he said. "We are asking our children to do a lot more with a lot less."

Waterbury said he isn't running against McLeland because of his voting record but because things need to change in Topeka.

"If things aren't changing, new people have to go in and change them," he said.

Waterbury, 44, said he hopes to see government run like a business and that schools could run more efficiently by eliminating administrative costs.

"There are a lot of administrative costs that are involved in education, costs that don't need to be there," he said.

Waterbury holds a bachelor's degree from Wayne State College in Nebraska and a master's of business administration from Wichita State University.

"I'm all new. I am not an actual career politician," he said. "One man, one idea starting to change the world."

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