Holland touts small business experience

9/30/2010

By SHAJIA AHMAD

By SHAJIA AHMAD

sahmad@gctelegram.com

Tom Holland made his first stop in Garden City Wednesday on his gubernatorial campaign trail, touting his expertise as a small business owner and four-term state legislator as what's needed to help fix and strengthen the state's economy.

The Democratic state senator from Baldwin City stopped by the Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce, 1511 E. Fulton St., to speak with members of the public on what is his third swing through western Kansas, he said.

He trails in name recognition and fundraising behind his chief Republican opponent, U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, a former presidential hopeful who was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996.

Holland drew several distinctions between himself and his front-running opponent on Wednesday, blasting Brownback as "a Washington insider" and "career politician."

"In Kansas, we've enjoyed moderate and pragmatic leadership for a number of years. (Brownback) is an extremist and falls well outside that band," Holland said.

Holland offered three of his primary goals to get the "economy back on track," which is his campaign's central focus, he said.

He said he'd like to see the state divert some economic development dollars toward "sustained investments in education and technology," create a "rainy day fund" for the state legislature, and added that he will do everything in his power to make state government more transparent and efficient.

Kansans would benefit from expanded funding for technological and other vocational training programs, Holland said.

"Not all jobs require four-year degrees," Holland said.

The state senator also proposed that in years in which the Legislature collects more than 3 percent of the revenue it has budgeted for, one-third of the money should be diverted to a rainy day fund later used to buffer possible budget cuts that hurt historically vulnerable groups such as the elderly.

Holland, who has owned his own information technology consulting business for 16 years, proposed greater scrutiny over the state's information technology data centers, too.

"We need to clean up the systems that don't work well together," he said.

Holland also said Wednesday he was a supporter of Sunflower Electric Power Corp.'s plans to built a 895-megawatt coal-fired expansion unit at its existing plant south of Holcomb in Finney County, a sticking point for many southwest Kansas voters.

Holland and Brownback had their only public debate at the state fair in Hutchinson on Sept. 11, a meeting of the pair Holland said he was sure he had conquered.

The pair will meet again at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 7 with two other governor hopefuls — Libertarian Andrew Gray and Reform Party candidate Ken Cannon — during a half-hour-long televised debate on Wichita-based KWCH-TV.

Holland said Wednesday he did not feel the length of time was adequate for all four candidates to present and debate their ideas.

Holland's candidate for lieutenant governor is State Sen. Kelly Kultala, D-Kansas City. Kultala did not accompany Holland's campaign staff Wednesday.

The general election will be Nov. 2.

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