Voting in Kansas

2000px-Kansas_in_United_States.svgOn Saturday we had 7 different knocks on the door from political volunteers polling, informing, and urging me to vote.  Eventually, my wife placed a sheet of paper on the door instructing people not to knock or ring the bell…she detailed the people we were planning to vote for so parties could get their polls in order.  The knocking stopped, though we were visited by a Boy Scout selling popcorn.  We declined.  I have more Halloween popcorn than I know what to do with right now.  While the Scout walked back to his mother, I waved…then read the note on the door announcing our family’s political values and realized November 4th would be the first time my wife and I would not have matching voting ballots.  We differed ever so slightly.  I removed the note from the door.

For most of my life I never understood how my mother and father got along when their political views seemed to differ so much.  Now I get it.  I was young and saw everything left or right, then a whole bunch of life happened and my views moved closer to the center.  I now am closer to the center than I’ve ever been and suddenly politics takes on a whole new meaning.

Vote-Counts1Today I filled out a sample ballot in preparation for tomorrow’s November 4th midterm election in Kansas.  I conducted some final research on Judges I didn’t have enough information on that are on the ballot to be retained in office for the court of appeals.  There are some big-ticket items on the ballot that are no-brainers for me, some running for office who I am going to vote out of party for, and some people I feel are best for the job though I disagree with certain stances they have taken.  Basically, this is the most important vote I have experienced as a resident of Wichita, KS and I’m not going into it without fully researching the items outside my scope of knowledge or awareness.  This is a very important election with immediate ramifications that will affect me, my children, my family, my friends, my businesses, my state, and my country…all of which I love.  I feel this is the most important election I have been a part of ever, even more so than past Presidential elections I felt so strongly about as a young adult in New York.  I feel like Kansas is teetering back and forth on a sharp political blade and our future within and beyond our borders is at stake.

kansas flag mapKate and I are 100% on the same wave length politically but our ballots will be 7% different tomorrow.  In a vote with less than 30 items, that’s not very much but its the first time for us.  Of these votes, our 3% difference is a major difference and already is an apple of discord with some of my friends.  There are a few items I’m just flat-out not politically educated on enough because they have been overshadowed by the race for Senator and Governor, so I am choosing to abstain.  I am doing my best to make the most informed decisions that I feel will benefit my city, state, and country best.  This narrowness between our votes is democracy at its finest and will be reflected large-scale in tomorrow’s election, where Kate and I are aligned on the big-ticket items.

We’re taught never to talk about one’s age, politics, religious beliefs or personal matters in large social settings.  Clearly I have violated most of those rules with this site where I have managed to anger both sides of parenting debates, I discuss my personal matters ad nauseam, my age is clear (hi…I’m 35), and here we go with politics.  The 7% difference between Kate and my ballot is no big deal.  The 2-4 points separating the race for Senator and Governor are because that is the blade upon which we’ll cut the path for the future of Kansas.  I am in support of Independent, Greg Orman for Senate and Democrat, Paul Davis for Governor.

OrmanRobertsGreg Orman is an entrepreneur like me, like my dad, and like most people I know.  He has been unaffiliated with any political party since 2010.  He worked for the consulting firm “McKinsey & Company” and founded “Environmental Light Concepts” in 1992, which designs and installs energy-efficient lighting systems for commercial and industrial companies.  He’s a progressive businessman living in Kansas.  If Orman is elected he’ll be the first non-republican Senator from the state of Kansas since George McGill in 1939.  1939!  That’s when World War II started!  Orman has been quoted saying he will “seek to caucus with the party that was in the majority as that would be in the best interest for the state of Kansas.”  Meaning, the balance of the U.S. Senate could end up in this guy’s hands…and here’s the kicker, he’s left/center…and winning.  He’s not far left.  He’s not far right.  He’s left center.  He’s been a Republican and a Democrat.  Now, he’s an Independent willing to reach across the aisle from whichever side he ends up on.

Orman gets my vote.

BrownbackDavisGovernor Brownback has practically bankrupted this state through excessive tax cuts, proven himself a liar, tried to eliminate the Kansas Arts Commission by executive order, made massive cuts to education, messed up health care, and is so far right that almost every Republican I know thinks he’s an idiot…because he’s an idiot.  A lampshade could run this state better.  Luckily, Paul Davis is much better than a lampshade and has what I feel may be his strongest asset vying for the Lieutenant Governor seat, Jill Docking.  Kansas has flipped back and forth between Democrats and Republicans for Governor…but the last time it had a Democratic Governor and non-Republican Senator?  You guessed it…1939.  Davis a lawyer from Lawrence, KS and is the son of a school teacher who has been the head of the House of Democrats in the Kansas House of Representatives since 2008.  Before then, Davis worked as Assistant Director of Government Affairs for former Insurance Commissioner Kathleen Sebelius, worked as the Legislative and Ethics Counsel to the Kansas Bar Association, and served as President of the Health Care Access Clinic Board of Directors and Vice President of the Arc of Douglas County Board of Directors.  Yes…much better than a lampshade.

Davis gets my vote.

YesWichita-BlueThe last big-ticket item I’ll bring up pisses me off.  It’s the one-percent Sales Tax increase for Wichita.  This has no bearing on anyone reading this outside of Wichita but if you get the opportunity to vote on this city matter, you should vote “YES.”  I’ve never seen such negative ad campaigns like those opposing the increase and am shocked to see the “NO’s” are polling 20+ points ahead of the “YES’s.”  This makes me sad as a Wichitan because apparently everyone forgot 2013 when we almost ran out of water and Cheney Reservoir dipped below emergency levels.  How did everyone forget?  Easy, an act of nature…or God…whichever you want to call it.  A freak storm rolled in and it rained…no, poured…for over a week!  In the end the reservoir was full, the Arkansas River was high, and the ditch was nearly overflowing.  Waiting, praying, and hoping are not solutions.  A vote for “NO” is a vote for lethargy.  While this vote is about a new water source (which Wichita desperately needs) along with infrastructure, a struggling downtown, and failing public transit system…it will get voted “NO” because the “The Coalition for a Better Wichita” spent $436,565 through a so-called grassroots campaign backed by corporations versus the $58,200 “Yes Wichita” was able to raise through an actual grassroots campaign that I was proud to donate to.  A vote for “YES” is a vote for your own city.  A vote for “NO” is a vote for corporations.  You stand to spend an additional $100-$300 per year based on your income over a 5 year period…at which time the tax goes away unless voted to continue.  One penny.  You know that “Give a Penny – Take a Penny” tray at the grocery store?  That’s how much we’re voting over, and if you vote “YES” your water bills won’t soar, the less fortunate might be able to go to work on a bus, and we might be able to create job opportunities in a state ravaged by Brownback’s tax cuts.  Vote “NO” to have higher water bills for everyone, no long-term water plan for your children, pot-holes, and no public transit system.

That gets my vote…vote “YES.”

Those are the three big-ticket items tomorrow (in my opinion), though there are some great races such as the U.S. Representative 4th District, Secretary of State, and State Treasurer.  You also get to vote on legalizing raffles.  Churches have been breaking Kansas gambling laws for years!  Now you can legalize it with this stupid vote on the same ballot as the most important Senatorial race of your life, wherever you stand on the matter.  No matter what happens tomorrow in Kansas, just do your state a favor and be an informed voter.  This isn’t the race track and we’re picking California Chrome because purple is your favorite color.  This is the future of Kansas.  Republican, Democrat, Independent, whatever…just vote with knowledge and research.  Watching TV ad campaigns doesn’t count as research…remember The Coalition for a Better Wichita has spent almost 10 times as much as Yes Wichita…that alone should tell you something.  If you are not sure at the booth who someone is…don’t fill in the oval.  Your other votes still count.  Don’t blindly vote for a party…some of the “other side’s” people are better suited for the job.  With the exception of the Sales Tax increase (apparently), every vote is going to count tomorrow…so make them count.  Tomorrow is going to be an interesting day and I’m excited to be a part of it…as an individual, a father, a businessman, a co-founder of an arts organization, a board member of a health clinic, a board member of a city organization, a Wichitan, a Kansan, an American, and most importantly as a human being.


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