Mulberry convenience store owner Ken Collins is seeking re-election to the Kansas House Second District in Tuesday’s voting.
Collins is running as the incumbent Republican against Democratic challenger Lynn Grant of Frontenac. He first ran in 2018 and said he was always interested in government. In the 1980s, he was involved with the Mulberry city council for two years and later he was on the Edgerton council for 1 1/2 years. He resigned when he had a job transfer. When Collins returned to Mulberry in 2011, he served on the council again for two terms. He said he had a good teacher and likes to be involved in the community. His retirement allowed him the time to pursue politics.
“It seemed like a good next step,” Collins said.
He said the most positive thing to come from his first term was an effort by the Farm Bureau to establish an association health plan. Although the proposal initially died in committee, it later passed, and Collins said it is providing health coverage to many families.
Collins said he is pro-life and he tried to pass a proposal to bring an amendment to a referendum that would put reasonable restrictions on abortion. He said the measure would not outlaw abortion or overturn Roe vs. Wade but would set restrictions, which he said other medical procedures face. The measure failed by four votes of having the two-thirds majority necessary for it to go to a vote of the public.
He said the economy is an issue facing the district and he compares towns in Kansas with those across the state line in Missouri. He said those on the other side seem to be thriving.
“I feel a lot of it has to do with taxes,” Collins said, adding that the state should not raise taxes if it can be avoided.
Collins said he is a conservative who served four years of active duty in the US Air Force and six years in the Army National Guard.
The decision to run in the Second District Kansas House of Representatives race was a last-minute one for Democrat Lynn Grant, Frontenac, who is challenging incumbent Republican Ken Collins of Mulberry.
Grant said she wanted to see both parties represented in the race, and she had a difference of opinion with the current representative.
She said it is hard to tell how the election is shaping up in the last week before the vote. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic there have not been the chances for door-to-door visits or meet-and-greets to get feedback from the voters, but Grant said she feels comfortable with what she has done, and she did the best she could to get her message out. Grant previously served on the Cherokee city council for 12 years and the Frontenac city council for three years. Since her husband was a state representative for 20 years, she said she is acquainted with the legislative process and has established her own contacts.
She grew up in Overland Park but came to Pittsburg to attend college. There she met her future husband and fell in love with him and southeast Kansas.
In addition to being a business owner, she worked for the Cherokee school district for 20 years as a secretary.
Medicaid expansion will be her top priority, Grant said.
“It’s something we need to do,” she said, adding that some people do not make enough to afford healthcare coverage without it.
“Those people should not be left out,” she said. “It has to be on the table and it has to pass.”
Because of COVID, she foresees economic challenges.
“We’ll probably have to make some cuts,” she said, but she would like to see them be prudent and maintain services, not just make cuts to fit a budget.
She said she is interested in education and wants cuts to be done wisely.
“We can’t cut our future off,” Grant said, and the state needs quality of life to attracted economic development.
Regarding transportation, she said the state is on the right path but she does not want to go back to earlier directions.
She said she would like to see the state government have more bipartisanship and less arguing.
“Work for the people and less for the party,” Grant said.