House Ag member to visit Hays for Q&A at Pavilion

Margaret Allen
Hays Daily News
State Rep. Rui Xu

Kansas State Rep. Rui Xu (pronounced REE shoe), D-Westwood, will come to Hays for an outdoor question-and-answer session with the Ellis County Democratic Party from 4 to 5 p.m. Friday, March 19, in the Downtown Hays Pavilion.

The public is invited.

His visit will also include an appearance at 7 p.m. on Smoky Hills Public Television.

Xu said the visit is part of an effort to hear from “people who don’t get to talk to Democrats very much.”

“Democrats have a reputation for not talking to people in rural areas,” he said. “I don’t see any reason why that should be the case. That’s a disservice to rural Kansas. This is part of an effort to talk to people all over the state.”

For Smoky Hills Public Television, Xu will participate at 7 p.m. on “Kansas Legislature,” a live, one-hour call-in show. The March 19 program, hosted by Dr. Jay Steinmetz, assistant professor of political science at Fort Hays State University, will include State Rep. Clarke Sanders, R-Salina.

Xu, a marketing analyst, noted that while he lives and works in Kansas City, “I grew up in Rolla, Missouri, so I am very familiar with rural issues, and those issues fit right into Democratic ideals.”

Rolla, a city of about 20,000, is the largest community in Phelps County, a rural county in south-central Missouri surrounded by rural counties.

Xu, the first Chinese-American ever to serve in the Kansas Legislature, is on the Agriculture Committee, the Financial Institutions and Pensions Committee (which includes Barb Wasinger, Hays’ Republican representative), and the Special Committee on Mental Health Modernization.

One of the bills he has introduced in the Kansas Legislature is a right-to-repair bill.

“When you buy a new combine and it breaks down,” he said, “you have to go through an authorized repair shop, which means you have to pay those prices and wait until they can get to you. My bill requires that equipment suppliers make parts and repair manuals available so that farmers can make repairs themselves.”

He will also touch on environmental issues such as carbon farming and healthy-soil legislation.

His district, House 25, encompasses Westwood, Westwood Hills, Roeland Park, Mission Woods, Fairway and portions of Mission, Mission Hills and Prairie Village, all in Johnson County.

The only Asian-American in the Kansas Legislature, Xu was first elected to the House in 2018, defeating incumbent Republican Melissa Rooker. He was unopposed in 2020. His legislative webpage is at http://www.kslegislature.org/li_2020/b2019_20/members/rep_xu_rui_1/.