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Dear Friend:

First and foremost – VOTE AUGUST 2! If you don’t like what’s going on in DC and Topeka, it’s because people who vote in primaries run the world – and 80% of us aren’t voting in primaries. Whether you click a button, fill in a bubble, or sit on your couch and complain, you’re voting!
 
Second, I always mean to get this out before ballots are mailed because so many of you ask me for a list – and then life gets in the way. But for good reason – I am thrilled to tell you about some truly amazing public servants seeking to represent hundreds of thousands of Kansans starving for a voice and an end to the chaos that has wrecked our state.
 
For attention span and word count, I’ve split this newsletter in two – primary races in Johnson County and non-Johnson County. I’m sure I’ve missed some, so please reply if you have questions about races not detailed in either version.
 
There are dozens of great candidates across the state, but only a handful I know well enough to endorse. Even in the midst of chaos, I am optimistic and if you need hope for Kansas, I have it in spades and there's plenty to go around! Heck, there's Good for Kansas and Joy for Kansas, too – read on...
 
Disclaimer: Many of these candidates are clients in some way –
I'm either helping them with printing/yard signs/paraphernalia or
they're using my VoteSharp constituent communications app.
 
CANDIDATE RESEARCH
If voters are given access to resources in an unbiased way, I know they’re smart enough to make educated decisions. However, that information is difficult to find – and I know where to look! For unbiased information about the candidates, please visit KanVote.com/learn, a site I developed to provide a 1-stop shop for candidate research: surveys, endorsements, articles, forum videos, etc. Yes, I have a bias and you can read that below or ask me for more specifics, but I keep KanVote pure of bias.
  • (I'm only human and doing this as a side project, so if you know of other articles/endorsements, not listed, please forward them to me with the source link.) 
VOTING RESOURCES
Am I registered?
Where do I vote?
What races will be on my ballot?
I want to vote before August 2!
I want to vote by mail!

Again, please reply to this email if you have questions and feel free to share with your networks!

Stephanie Sharp
Owner, Sharp Connections
Translating Politics Into English
Senate 11 (all of Leawood, parts of OP): John Skubal

I’ve known John for a number of years as an Overland Park City Councilman and JCCC’s Director of Campus Facilities for more than two decades – he knows how to budget public funds, use them efficiently, and get the biggest bang for taxpayer buck. He now works for an engineering company on the front lines of the negative impacts of the legislature’s constant raids of KDOT. He’s already doing the work it takes to be your Senator – accessible, educated on the issues, and hard-working (8,000+ doors and counting).
  • It helps that the incumbent says things like Supreme Court opinions are “dropping little turds” on the legislature. Not kidding. The highest educated per-capita district in the state (top five in the US), and the highest income zip codes in the state, and you can’t think of something more insightful?
  • Candidate Forum Video: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
House 8 (OP, Switzer-Pflumm, 119th-159thish): Patty Markley

I’m sure she’s tired of me gushing about it, but Patty had me at “Sen. John Danforth.” I have a bit of a professional crush on her first boss... But I digress. Upon returning to KC from DC, she worked at Union Station, sat on the Prairie Village City Council, and was appointed by Governor Bill Graves to the KS Council on Travel & Tourism before having kids and moving south. She stayed at home with her girls and was a leader in their elementary PTA, as well as Junior League and Metro Lutheran Ministries. Her Representative is invisible in the community, yet leads the legislature’s efforts to eliminate funding and authority of the 3rd branch of government – our courts.
Senate 21 (all of Lenexa, part of NW OP): Dinah Sykes
Dinah. Sweet, unassuming, Dinah. HA!
Woe is he who underestimates the southern charm. She is fearless and doesn’t get intimidated. (I REALLY wanted to insert a honey badger video here, but couldn’t find a funny one without cursing in it!) Dinah was a university development officer and since having two boys (now both at Prairie Trail Middle), is a personal chef, food blogger, former PTA President and Treasurer, and passionate advocate for fixing the Kansas budget, stopping KDOT raids, and supporting public schools.
  • Lenexa and Overland Park are these lovely bastions of citizens who respect and appreciate local control (I see “love” replaced with “like” more often than not in the city’s motto – hat-tip to Rich Becker), top-notch community-based schools, recognize the work their teachers and city employees do for each of us, and yet our representation in the Kansas Senate could not be more opposite.
  • Public service should be focused on listening to voters, hearing their concerns and needs, and collaboration with colleagues across the state to craft good policy for every Kansan. There is no place in public service for disrespect of the institution, condescension to voters, or at worst, complete invisibility. Dinah is already skilled in the art of the former.
  • In 15 years of watching elections in Kansas, I’ve never seen anything like it:
    • Dinah has held more town hall meetings in a year than her opponent has in six;
    • She’s walked nearly 10,000 doors, people leave their houses to bear hug her for running, chase her down to request signs, write her big checks at doors; and
    • Lifelong Republicans about to give up on the process and the party are committing to vote in their first primaries in 30 years.
  • I ask for YOUR vote for Dinah Sykes – click here to commit to vote on August 2!
  • Candidate Forum Video
House 14 (Lenexa/Olathe Renner-K7, south to 119thish): Leesa Gabel

A mutual friend through the American Cancer Society introduced us after Leesa filed to be my next State Representative. As a cancer survivor, technical writer for a firewall company, Olathe Northwest and Santa Fe Trail mom, and Girl Scout Leader, I know she will be an amazing legislator! On Monday, my current legislator said our current tax policy is going in the right direction and he wants to tax professional services. In this and so many other ways, Leesa will be a great improvement!
House 28 (OP/Leawood 127th-151st): Joy Koesten

We could all use a little Joy for Kansas! Knock-it-outta-the-park-organization and grassroots support are the hallmarks of Joy’s campaign. She’s smart and connected with small business and higher education experience. With the threats against schools and the potential impact on student achievement, let alone property values, the Blue Valley area is activated like never before. It helps when the incumbent Representative and Senator lambast “scrapbooking PTA moms” on social media (SERIOUSLY?). They poked the sleeping bear and Blue Valley will be better for it!
House 21 (State Line-Metcalf, 67th-83rd): Dorothy Hughes

I’ve known Dorothy for a number of years, mostly through her legislative work at KU Hospital. She knows the ins and outs of health care policy and is even finishing up her PhD. She’s young, hard-working, and has the support of a bunch of people I deeply respect, namely the current Rep. Barbara Bollier (who is running for Senate) and former Rep. and Sen. Terrie Huntington. Dorothy will be a thoughtful, responsive legislator and Kansas could use a little more Dorothy!
House 17 (Shawnee/Lenexa/LQ, Pflumm-Renner north of 87th): Tom Cox

Little Tommy Cox is all grown up (actual quote on a doorstep)! Tom grew up in this district and was a constituent back when I represented part of it. Anyone that lives in this part of JoCo knows people move there and stay. Forever. So these neighborhoods are still packed with Tom’s friends’ parents from school and extra-curricular activities. Heck, a lot of his SMNW classmates have moved back to start families. He got his bachelors and masters at KU, worked for a startup that took him to San Diego, but was able to bring his job back here a few years ago. He’s from here, so knows what quality of life means to constituents and stand up for it!
  • Also of note: The incumbent was elected to another district in 2010. When the maps changed in 2012, he resigned his seat, abandoned his voters, and moved into this district, which he thought to be an easier win for his Tea Party views.
  • I lived in OP before moving to Lenexa a few months before running, so I’m not complaining about the moving. It’s the “grass is greener” political convenience and voter abandonment that’s always bothered me.
  • Candidate Forum: Thursday, July 21 – keep an eye on KanVote.com/learn, I’ll post it there. Tom is confirmed, incumbent will not attend.
House 38 (Gardner Lake north to De Soto, Basehor, Bonner Springs): Mitra Templin

A former De Soto City Councilwoman, Mitra knows this area and its citizens inside and out. She is bright, determined, engaged and accountable in her community, evidenced by her strong endorsements throughout the district’s major population centers:
  • Basehor Mayor David Breuer
  • Current and former De Soto Mayors Tim Maniez and Dave Anderson
  • Longtime Gardner Mayor Carol Lehman
  • Candidate Forum Video not yet available, keep an eye on KanVote.com/learn.
House 39 (western Shawnee): Shelee Brim

By and large, this part of JoCo, as everything outside of 435, has been politically sleepy – a lot of new residents, young families busy with school and kids’ activities, resulting in extremely low turnout and representation without accountability because few are paying attention… Until now.
  • What happens when moms realize what’s going on at the board and administrative levels is impacting teacher morale, their kids’ class size, how the PTA is fundraising and what they’re paying for (curriculum)? They force a recall election to oust a board member. And then they look west to Topeka and begin to wonder what the heck happened to the Kansas where they grew up.
  • So while the two previous incumbents compete for who can strip school funding the most or neuter the courts faster, here comes a recently retired teacher (two weeks before filing for office) whose husband has 30-years of service with the Shawnee Police. They know a few people in Shawnee and know what to do about it!
House 20 (OP/Leawood, 99thish to 127thish): Jan Kessinger

This is the most unexpected race this year. Jan is a business consultant and Congregational Care Minister (CCM) at United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, but I didn’t meet him until late last year. I told him he couldn’t win, because:
  1. In Topeka, while the incumbent flies under the radar, jokes about not responding to constituents like they’re an annoyance, and literally disappears during controversial votes, he hasn’t been terrible enough to get much negative attention, and
  2. Being a Representative is part of his identity and those folks are hard to beat because they’re willing to do anything…
When I said that, I meant work harder than anyone, hire a bunch of fraternity buddies to walk doors, and drop thousands on mail. Turns out “anything” was an understatement.
  • The incumbent is smart and adept at turning the conversation (as attorneys are wont to do), so I was surprised when he refused to show up to any public forums.
  • Then, AFTER BVSD and SMSD Superintendents reiterated “thank you letters” were not endorsements and asked candidates not to use them, he sent them far and wide on a glossy 8.5 x 11” spread in mailboxes. He outright lies at doors, and we know this because it drives voters to Jan’s website contact form – ending in a yard sign location and votes for Jan!
  • Jan delivered the gut punch for me – “Even if he isn’t beatable, don’t our citizens deserve someone who will try to do a better job?”
  • This race has shocked me and I know Jan will bring honest, responsive, accountable, and fiscally conservative business-smarts to the legislature. Walking more than 4,000 doors is a darn good start!
House 43 (Gardner/Edgerton): Don Roberts

26 years at Gardner Public Works, 15 elected to Edgerton (7 as Mayor), is there anyone in this district that doesn’t know Don? Or can’t credit their job to him? This guy (and his Council) is pretty much the only reason Kansas has stayed afloat on job growth. Yes, we’re pretty much at net zero growth over the last year, but we’d be far in the negative without the work he has put in to recruit companies to the Intermodal. Check out the video for the Gardner candidate forum a few weeks ago, telling it like it is!
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