Healthcare, cultural diversity and education were among the topics discussed Thursday at the Finney County Democrats’ monthly meeting, with Democratic Kansas gubernatorial candidate Carl Brewer the guest of honor.
Brewer, D-Wichita, was the second Democratic candidate for governor to meet with local Democrats in recent weeks, as gubernatorial candidate Josh Svaty, D-Ellsworth, met with the group on Aug. 31.
“They may be registered democratic, but they have different opinions about things, and it’s important to hear each of them and their ideals,” said Zach Worf, chairperson for the Finney County Democrats. “If you get that opportunity in person, it’s even better.”
Worf said he would like more people to be involved in the democratic process.
“I want to see more people involved in the process, Democratic or Republican, I don’t care,” he said. “I want to see more people involved.”
Brewer introduced himself to the group, saying he served 21 years in the military. He also spent eight years as mayor of Wichita, and before that was a sheet metal mechanic in the aircraft industry. Later, he served as a senior manager of government relations at Spirit Aviation.
“I decided to take the early retirement and to run for governor,” he said.
After his introduction, Brewer explained why he wanted to run for governor.
“The big thing is we’ve got to get Kansas turned around,” he said. “I’m recognizing some of the needs that are there. Western Kansas seems to be neglected.”
Worf asked Brewer what his three top issues would be if he was elected. Brewer responded with education, giving authority back to local government and water.
Brewer said he sees education as the key to growing the state's economy.
“We must reinvest in education, putting the dollars back that were there,” he said.
He also said that he feels it's important that Kansas provide an educational climate that makes teachers want to stay in the state. He said Kansas children are competing with children throughout the world, not just Kansas.
“To do that, we need to provide them with all the support, education that they need,” he said.
Brewer said he wants to empower local government to make decisions.
As for water issues, Brewer favors conservation through investing in various crops that preserve water.
“We have to make that a priority,” he said. “As mayor (of Wichita), it was my job to educate citizens how important water was.”
Brewer went on to talk about how businesses need to be held accountable for the way they hire workers.
“We are the fathers of our states and our communities, and it’s our job to take care of the community,” he said.
He also talked about infrastructure.
“We need to make sure we have nice roads and access to transport our goods outside of Kansas,” he said.
Garden City's cultural diversity impresses Brewer, who said the community would not be what it is without having citizens from many different cultures.
“You have to take some time and not stay in your comfort zone, but go look and see the various cultures you have and take the time to learn more about them,” he said. “You’ve got to reach out and embrace cultures, embrace different individuals. You have to embrace change and you have to embrace everyone, and that’s what I’m all about.”
In regards to health care, Brewer said he was disappointed that Medicaid has lost a lot of funding.
“We have to go back, and we are going to have to recapture those dollars,” he said. “We need to address the Medicaid issue. My strategy is to reinvest in health care in your community.”
Brewer was back on the campaign trail after taking a short hiatus to be with his family to grieve the unexpected death of his 3-year-old grandson, Evan Brewer.
On Sept. 2, Wichita police discovered Evan’s remains encased in concrete at a rental home where the boy lived with his mother and her boyfriend. Police have not said how Evan, who was Brewer's son Carlos' son, died.
Brewer said he was glad to come to Garden City.
“I like visiting with people, and I like coming and talking to the everyday person,” Brewer said.