Leiker fits the bill

Two years ago, western Kansas, including Hays, sent a new contingent of representatives to the state Legislature who were ardent Brownbackians, enthusiastic that a lack of any opposition would create a legislative utopia where Brownback economics would make Kansas an economic Eden within the U.S. Our representatives became rubber-stampers. Today, we see the results of our actions. Our state trails the region and most of the nation in job growth. Even with incredible slashes in state spending, the lack of job growth in conjunction with massive tax cuts still leaves the state with a mounting deficit resulting in the downgrading of our credit rating twice in the past few months. As a percentage of spending, education is the largest part of the state budget. Thus, massive cuts to the budget have had drastic effects on both K-12 and university funding.

I voted early in this election for James Leiker to be our state representative for the 111th district. I want you to understand why I think this was important. Leiker has experience as a museum education director. He worked in this capacity with energy and passion in successfully taking the museum's education programs in new directions. This included creating nature trails with numerous outdoor programs. He designed new school and after-school programs working with students, teachers as well as businesses and state agencies to create opportunities for learning about water, energy, and wildlife issues affecting western Kansas. Leiker became interested and researched issues facing our public education system and was elected to the Hays USD 489 school board after leaving the museum and while working to build a successful small business. He is presently the president of the school board and has had to deal with the myriad budget issues dealing directly with the massive Brownback cuts. He has seen the effect on teachers and students of shrinking budgets and increasing class sizes.

Leiker understands education from all perspectives and uniquely sees the importance of state funding in allowing local schools to focus on providing high quality education for our children. An education vital to creating learned and motivated new generations that will spur on our economy. He understands the perils of underfunding our university systems with respect to creating accessible opportunities for everyone without mortgaging their future.

Leiker has two degrees from Fort Hays State University, with a master's focusing on rangeland management. This education, added with the experience of working on a farm and also working for K-State Extension as a research technician on water conservation issues prior to joining the museum, give him a vital perspective other main priorities for western Kansas water, agriculture and natural resource management.

Finally, Leiker is a leader. He listens to others and researches diligently while making decisions and creating solutions to problems. He is not a follower. He has the work ethic and integrity I trust to be my representative. That is not easy to do, and I don't take lightly the decision I make in endorsing Leiker as worthy of your vote this election. I have spent a lot of time with him discussing the future of our state and country and told him at some point, he would need to get into politics. That time is now.

Reese Barrick,