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Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016

Contenders stake claims to Kansas House seat

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Kansas redistricting tossed Rep. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, out of the House of Representatives in Topeka and into a state senate race, prompted former Democratic Rep. Shirley Palmer of Fort Scott to stage a comeback and drew former Linn County Commissioner Marty Read into the District 4 House race as Palmer's Republican opponent.

The somewhat dizzying sequence saw Read campaign door-to-door throughout much of Bourbon and Linn counties and beat two rivals in the Aug. 7 GOP primary. "I'm for less government spending, lower taxes and fewer regulations," Read said.

"That's how you help small businesses grow and increase the tax base. Small businesses make up 85 percent of the business in the country and the private sector supports the public sector.

"Education is the big bugaboo and I'm glad to see Gov. (Sam) Brownback has added $40 million to the schools. The Democrats are supposed to be the big school people, but the largest cut was in 2009, when (Democrat Mark) Parkinson was governor."

Read's opposition to abortion is another key feature of his platform for the Nov. 6 general election. "I want to have a more conservative government and get rid of liberalism as much as possible," he said Thursday night from his home three miles east of Mound City.

"Continuing the fight against abortion is a big reason I'm running. Kansas was one of the No. 1 states for abortion, but we have reduced it quite a bit since (former governor, now U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen) Sebelius has left our state."

Read is a 62-year-old fourth generation Linn Countian who graduated from high school at La Cygne, attended Northeastern Oklahoma A&M University and took an animal science and industry degree at Kansas State University. He is an auctioneer, Realtor and cow-calf producer. He and his wife Beverly have two children.

Having served two four-year terms on the Linn County Commissioners Court in the 1990s before declining to seek re-election, Read expects to raise and spend about $15,000 on the House race.

Redistricting deleted the northwest corner of Linn County, including Parker and Centerville, and the southwest corner of Bourbon County from District 4, which Palmer represented for four years until Tyson unseated her two years ago.

The redistricting panel of judges removed Uniontown and the area south of there while adding Kincaid and Lone Elm in the south sliver of Anderson County to the district. "I believe the U.S. Constitution is being threatened," said Read.

"When I go door to door, people tell me they're afraid we have spent so much that their children and grandchildren will suffer. When we suffer federally, we suffer statewide, too. People want me to be available to hear them out like Rep. Tyson, who did a super job.

"If I'm elected, I will be in the learning process."

Asked if he had any criticisms of Palmer's representation, Read said, "I am not going to say anything negative about her."

Expressing strong opposition to some aspects of Brownback's Republican administration, Palmer says the governor's intention to cut $2.7 billion in state expenditures in five years "would almost bankrupt our state.

"My main priorities are fiscal responsibility, creating jobs, economic development, funding for schools and fair taxes," Palmer said. "The governor's reckless tax-cutting plan will be very bad because it will raise property taxes and cut vitally important things like schools, public safety and benefits to veterans, senior citizens and those with intellectual disabilities.

"Our corrections centers are at 104 percent capacity and I don't want to take away Meals on Wheels. We want to keep our seniors in their homes for as long as possible because they will be happier and it will end up costing the state less in the long run. They are priceless, very special people.

"The Republicans have cut to the bone and we are down to the point where if they cut any more, they'll be breaking bones."

Palmer, 69, is a Garland native who graduated from Fort Scott High School and Fort Scott Junior College before earning a bachelor's degree and two master's degrees at Pittsburg State University and teaching second grade for 36 years at Winfield Scott Elementary School in Fort Scott. She and her husband Ron have two children and two grandchildren.

Palmer devoted $45,000 to her race against Tyson and will use "at least $20,000 and maybe a little more if I have it" this year, spending less because the strained economy made fundraising harder, she said.

"No Child Left Behind's goal to have all children at grade level by 2014 is not reasonable now," said Palmer, who was unopposed in her primary.

"Kansas test scores were in the top 10 percent, but now that they're reducing staff, taking away para-educators and making classes larger, students with special needs are no longer getting extra help, although teachers are doing a great job and schools are putting forth great effort."

Palmer previously served on the House Commerce and Labor, Higher Education and Agriculture and Natural Resources committees and on the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules and Regulations.

If she returns to Topeka, she said, she will seek appointments to address issues involving education, transportation, agriculture, veterans and Homeland Security.

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