Independent gubernatorial candidate Rick Kloos visited Garden City on Saturday as part of a campaign tour with his youngest son and running mate, Nate Kloos.
Kloos, his wife and son stopped at Patrick Dugan’s Coffee House to visit with locals and articulate their vision for Kansas.
Kloos, who has no prior political experience, is a Kansas native who has lived in Topeka for the past 20 years. He says he wants to bring the power back to the people. His campaign promises include supporting education redesign, adjusting the state budget, preserving the state’s appeal, and uniting the state through bipartisan efforts.
Kloos’ name will be on the ballot even after the primaries, and he says he has no concerns about his decision to take on his youngest son, who is about to be 25, as a running mate for the position of lieutenant governor.
“I was originally looking for someone older, more experienced and in a bigger county,” Kloos said. “It just kept coming back to the young people need a voice.”
Nate said he has worked with his dad his entire life and was onboard with the electoral bid announced last May from the beginning.
“It was definitely very intimidating. I know I’m young,” he said.
Nate harped on the Legislature’s historic inability to find a middle ground on many issues in recent years.
“Why can’t we just get along?” he said. “Why can’t we find middle ground where we can work together instead of bashing each other? That’s why we need someone who can unite in a bipartisan manner."
Nate added that there are a lot of moderates in Kansas and a lot of people “going independent.” He said Kansas now has 550,000 registered independents, “and people are getting tired of the two-party system.”
Kloos said he’s looking past the primaries in his bid for the governor’s office.
While he didn't share a concrete plan for resolving the school finance issue, he did say that public education will need more money.
“How much is still to be determined, but there again, I want to look at it as an investment versus a liability,” he said.
Kloos also supported Medicaid expansion to help fund services for the mentally ill. He said health care and education are both crucial to making communities thrive.
When asked about whether he supported arming teachers with guns, Kloos was noncommittal in his answer, but Nate said the best solution is not to arm teachers but to look at other solutions while leaving the authority in the hands of local officials instead of legislating a blanket solution.
Both agreed that the focus of the campaign is putting Kansas back in the hands of the people.
Kloos said the school funding issue should have never gone to the Supreme Court, suggesting that a suitable solution should have been developed before it became such a big issue.
Scott Glass, a science teacher at Garden City High School, asked Kloos if Kansas can successfully continue with the current education system, or if it's more likely to become like Oklahoma, where school walkouts and strikes are becoming increasingly common threats under the existing funding formula.
Kloos reiterated that if the Kansas Legislature understood that education is an asset and not a liability, the issue would have never gone to the Supreme Court.
“If we’re going to move forward, then education has got to be an asset to us,” Kloos said. “We’ve got to change our thinking. You know where that starts? From the governor up.”
Contact Mark Minton at firstname.lastname@example.org.