Democrat Senator Laura Kelly is running for governor, with a record of cooperation across the aisle in the Kansas legislature.
Kansas Senator and Democrat Laura Kelly is a mathematician, a psychiatric specialist and a proponent of a strong educational system. She hopes to use all her skills to bring legislators together to build Kansas back to pre-Brownback days of strength if she is elected governor of the state.
"Serving as governor is not a one-person show," Kelly said on July 11 in Pratt. "My management style is to work collaboratively and I am very confident that I can walk into the office on day one and bring folks together to get what's best for Kansas done."
Kelly said her mathematician skills came in handy as a Senator because with only 10 Democrats in the floor, she needed 21 votes to get anything accomplished.
"I can count," she said. "I formed good solid relationships with moderate Republicans in the Senate and will carry those forward with me as governor."
Kelly was elected to the Senate in 2004 and has served three and a half terms. She is currently the ranking Democrat on the Senate Ways and Means Committee and the Public Health and Welfare Committee. She also serves as assistant minority leader in the Senate.
"As a legislative body we have gone through some dark years," Kelly said. "It's time for a more collaborative atmosphere because we've got a lot to do."
Kelly said funding education was one of her personal top priorities, because it is one of the things that drew her and her husband to Kansas when their children were young.
"I grew up in a military family and moved around a lot," she said. "When I got married we wanted to put down more permanent roots. We were living in Denver and had noticed the stellar schools, good job opportunities and deep sense of community in Kansas. That's what drew us here. That is my motivation to run for governor, to see that every child in Kansas has the same opportunities in education that my daughters did here."
Kelly said there was money in the state coffers for education, it just had to be managed right.
"As we put our economy back together we have got to invest more in schools, roads, Medicaid expansion and the tax base," she said.
She said her early post-college background in the mental health field would benefit her as she worked to bring opposing views and differing personalities in the Kansas legislature to the table to get things put back together for Kansans as they should be.
"My number one priority is emphasis on early childhood intervention for education readiness," Kelly said. "Education is connected to every aspect of our success as a government and a state. Our economy, our transportation system, our Medicare, everything depends on top-notch education for our students. They are our future."
Kelly said that in her visits throughout the state, wherever she went, education has been what voters want to talk about.
"It is mandated by our Constitution," she said. "People of Kansas want to have a good solid education system."
Kelly picked fellow Senator Lynn Rogers as her running mate for the governorship. He was elected to the Kansas Senate in 2016, taking a seat formerly held by Republican Michael O'Donnell. Rogers is a former member of the Wichita school board.