It is never easy being a Democrat. We always feel we must explain not only what’s on our minds, but what is in our hearts as well. For me, matters have gotten even more complicated in recent years because I keep running into great people who turn out to be Republicans. There are two local races for statewide offices that typify how torn I am between the two parties these days.

First, although I like Eber Phelps and feel he did alright when he was in Topeka and also has served well while back in Hays on the city commission and recently as mayor, I have to respect the valuable work Sue Boldra has done during her first two terms in the Kansas House of Representatives. She communicates effectively with the Republican leadership in the House and has stood up to her Republican colleagues when some of them have advocated policies that would have resulted in harmful changes in our Kansas schools. As a teacher herself and a teacher-educator, Boldra just plain “gets it.” She knows our teachers deserve much more respect than some politicians give them, and I mean those who beat up on teachers and schools to score rhetorical points with voters instead of giving us straight information and the truth.

On that basis, because Boldra is a Republican who is respected by her Republican colleagues but also who has the integrity to stand up to them and has been successful in protecting the quality of education Kansas children are receiving, I am supporting her re-election.

At the same time, I am for the Democrat Alex Herman, a local Hays lawyer who is in a race against Rick Billinger of Goodland to fill Ralph Ostmeyer’s seat in the Kansas Senate.

Alex has a big heart and some wonderful ideals, which always appeal to us Democrats. His big campaign message is against Gov. Sam Brownback’s economic and social agenda, which many people feel has wrecked the Kansas economy and possibly will leave things in shambles for a number of years.

However, what has convinced me to vote for Herman is his intention to introduce a bill in the Kansas Senate to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain Kansas driver’s licenses. Right now, the District of Columbia and 12 states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Vermont and Washington — issue licenses to immigrants, and this just seems like such a sensible way to incorporate them into the social, legal and economic fabric. The situation in Kansas, on the other hand, leaves these people in a Catch-22 limbo that makes little or no sense at all.

I am proud to support Herman for his principled stand on behalf of these families who make such important contributions already in our state, through hard work, ethical behavior, spending money on goods and services, and adding their culture and heritage to strengthen the future of Kansas and America.

I know Herman is being idealistic to put forth such a plan, but his heart is in the right place, and he knows treating our fellow human beings with dignity and respect is just the right thing to do. I also know Boldra, like Alex, cares about the children who are the future of the great state of Kansas, and that is why she takes such principled stands to protect the quality of education in Kansas schools and shows true respect for the valuable contribution our hard-working teachers make in training our youth to become successful adults and responsible members of Kansas communities.

I hope they both win, and perhaps I am dreaming a little here, but I want to imagine a Kansas statehouse where Republicans such as Boldra and Democrats such as Herman can work hand in hand to help our state and our country re-discover the language of compromise and collaboration, like the stalwart politicians of the past, such as Bob Dole, John Carlin, Keith Sebelius and Kathleen Sebelius, too.

I checked the other day to be sure I am properly registered — as a Democrat of course — but I am voting for Boldra and Herman, with great hopes their ideas will help to influence our state’s leaders to move in positive directions to guarantee a solid future for my home state that I love deeply.

Robert Bruce Scott, Ed.D.,