New option arises for governor

5/5/2014

By Matthew Kenwright

By Matthew Kenwright

Special to the Telegram

Gov. Sam Brownback's challenger in the Republican primary visited Massey Park in Hays on Saturday.

Jennifer Winn, an owner of two small businesses in Wichita, said she is campaigning because she is dissatisfied by the state of politics.

"I've had enough of the corporate agendas," Winn said. "I've had enough of politicians that don't listen to the people."

Funding education is a priority for her.

"I struggle with my own children in public education, and I felt like I was the teacher," she said. "My kids would come home and have all this homework, and I'm thinking, 'Oh my gosh, I have to go back to fifth grade history.' "

Winn advocates for farming hemp as a new source of revenue. The drought-resistant crop can be used for biofuel, paper production, rope fiber and hempcrete instead of concrete because it would be more cost effective and eco-friendly, she said.

Legalizing medicinal marijuana is another plank of her campaign platform.

Winn said her 23-year-old son, Kyler, was involved in a fatal marijuana transaction in April 2013. The son helped arrange for the deal between two acquaintances, but the buyers shot and injured Kyler as the dealer was shot and killed.

Kyler was charged with felony murder and faces at least 20 years in prison. Winn said she is running for governor in part to highlight the law allowing her son to be charged with a murder he did not commit.

"Can I prevent it from happening to your son in the future? I hope so," Winn said.

Millions of dollars are being spent on jailing offenders who violate marijuana laws, and the money can be better-appropriated, she said.

Resources can be directed towards schools and services for the elderly and veterans, Winn said. She has seen teachers buying classroom supplies with their own money, and she believes her ideas can help the budget.

Mike Shatz, Winn's campaign manager, said rural schools feel the limited education funding more than the bigger cities.

"Some of these schools, I know out here in western Kansas, if you lose a teacher, you lose a program," Shatz said.

Winn said western Kansas is a leader in water conservation, but the whole state needs to look at the issue and engage surrounding states for regional cooperation.

Regarding gay marriage, Winn said she would let Kansans decide because she does not want to push her Christian faith on people. Winn is pro-life, but she supports contraceptives.

Winn said she is relying on personal interactions with voters to overcome the better-funded incumbent governor.

"The only options I have are to go city to city, knock on the doors, meet people at the parks, answer their questions, pick up the phone and call and let them know that they do have another option," she said.

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