I am a fourth generation Kansan. I was born into a home committed to values and community service. As a kid, I never thought it was fair that my mom was a teacher at my school and my dad was the preacher at my church. I never got in trouble without my parents getting involved. I learned something about faith, hard work, and honesty. Values I have worked to instill in my own four children.
We moved a lot, following my dad’s church appointments. I lived in 7 houses before I was 18 years old, between Kansas City, Topeka, and Lenexa. I learned more than how to pack a box—I learned the stuff in boxes is just stuff. I learned that wherever I went to school or church, family and faith came first. I also learned to take plain-spoken Kansas commonsense to heart.
I heard the call to ministry when I was 14. When I graduated from high school, I went off to college at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Then I went to seminary at Iliff School of Theology in Denver. The more I lived in other places, the more I was ready to come home to Kansas. I served my first two churches in rural Kansas, then 19 years as pastor in my hometown of Kansas City.
I heard my call to wider community service while I was in the church. I believe pastors are not just called to serve a congregation, but the community in which the church sits. In 2007 I was elected Commissioner in the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas. Six years later I was elected Mayor of the third largest population and economy in Kansas.
In a church, we do not sit on the left or right side of the sanctuary, depending on political party. Democrats and Republicans worship together, sing in the choir together, and serve in the food kitchen together. In the city, there is no Democrat or Republican way to pave a street. Elected local offices are non-partisan and we work across the aisle to get things done. Washington DC could learn something from the church and the city.
As mayor I oversaw $2.8 billion in private investment that created over 12,000 new jobs in Wyandotte County. We grew the economy by looking forward to new industries and opportunities, not backwards at who we used to be.
I am running for US Senate because our country is bitterly divided by partisan politics. We need to come together to solve real problems, American problems, Kansas problems. I will put values, my country, and my state ahead of partisan politics.
We cannot change the political climate in our country if we do not change who is representing us.