Grant County Commissioner Marty Long filed on Friday in Topeka to run for the Kansas House of Representatives’ 124th District seat.
Long, 61, is a fourth-generation farmer in Grant County of 40 years and a Ulysses hotel owner. He is serving his fourth term as a Grant County commissioner since his election in 2004.
Long says his experience as a county commissioner, in which capacity he works closely with the Legislature on county issues, has prepared him for the role.
This is Long’s first time running for a state-level position, he said, and his biggest motivator for running is to keep momentum strong at the legislative level for a stronger Kansas.
“Kansas has struggled financially at the hands of a failed tax policy since 2012,” Long said. “This policy, coupled with additional elements, has created a burden funding schools, KDOT, pension plans and other core functions of the state. It has also led to several downgrades of Kansas’ credit ratings by S&P.”
Long lauded the reversal of the Brownback tax policies and the income tax hikes designed to bring revenue back to state agencies that came with them. He said representation from southwest Kansas is “more important now than it’s ever been.”
“I am extremely excited about running in the 124th House District,” Long said. “My wife and I love southwest Kansas and have always believed it is a remarkable place to live and do business. After farming for 40 years and being involved in local politics, I now believe it’s time to pursue the next step representing District 124 in Topeka.”
Incumbent 124th District Rep. Steve Alford, who caused a firestorm at the start of the legislative session in January when he cited Jim Crow-era drug policies suggesting that African Americans are genetically and characteristically more susceptible to intoxication by cannabis, has not filed for re-election.
After losing his leadership positions in the House as a result of the scandal, Alford issued an apology.
Long said Alford is “a friend of mine” and has been a great representative, “but I think it’s time for a change, and I think the timing is right for me to make a run for this.”
Alford declined to state whether he intends to file before the noon deadline on June 1. He said he maintains a “policy” not to interview with The Telegram after coverage of his remarks in January.
Alford said the remarks “destroyed” him, suggesting that the remarks should not have been reported, even though they were given in an open town hall-style meeting with many in attendance.
“You have no idea the extreme it’s gone,” Alford told The Telegram Wednesday. “You’ve just got to put caps on stuff, and you guys want to take the caps off and let it roll.”
Sublette resident Jeffrey Locke, 54, who has been a teacher for almost 30 years, also has filed for the 124th District seat.
Locke described himself as a problem solver, attributing the skill to his experience as an art teacher.
“To solve a problem, you have to define it first,” he said. “But a lot of people don’t define problems. They just throw money at it or something inefficient, and it doesn’t ever work because they’re never addressing the root of the problem.”
Locke said he is a lifetime Republican who follows the Kansas Republican Party platform to the letter. However, he said, he supports capital punishment in extreme cases.
He also said he’s “pro-life,” a lifetime endowed member of the National Rifle Association, and a fervent supporter of the Second Amendment.
“I believe it’s a God-given right to be able to defend yourself, and the Second Amendment is about that right, codified,” Locke said.
Telegram staff writer Amber Friend contributed to this report.