Tracey Mann visits Garden City

Meghan Flynn

As the Aug. 4 Kansas primary nears, Tracey Mann, former Kansas lieutenant governor and candidate for Kansas’ District 1 Congressional seat, returned to Garden City on July 17.

Mann is one of the four candidates seeking the Republican bid.

Garden City was one of the seven stops Mann made on his tour in southwest Kansas, which included Ellsworth, Great Bend, Dodge City, Cimarron, Larned, Moscow and Liberal.

During his visit to Garden City, Mann had a private meeting with a local business, touching base on things such as how the business is doing and what the workforce is like.

Mann discussed a few topics and issues during his stop in the city; one was agriculture.

“We have got to do a better job to have a strong ag economy, and we do that by opening up and returning to normal demand levels and so that restaurants are open, so that people’s eating habits are typical, then as a result it will increase demand which increases prices, which helps our feed yards, our commodity growers, our milk producers here in southwest Kansas,” he said. “That's one of the biggest things I'm talking about is the importance of agriculture and getting our commodity prices up.”

An increase of commodity prices is tied to trade, Mann said. There’s been a decrease in trade and it needs to return, he said, because many of the United States’ and southwest Kansas’ agriculture products are consumed both in and outside of the country.

“We've got to return to normal free trade,” he said.

Mann also discussed the mask mandate implemented by Gov. Laura Kelly. He believes leaving the decision up to the counties about whether or not to require masks to be worn in public is the right decision.

“I think a top-down approach on COVID is probably not the best thing,” he said. “I support the counties making the decision, the more local the decision, the better. That's why I think that local school boards should make the decisions on school re-openings and local counties, cities should make the decision on masks.”

Broadband coverage in rural areas was another topic Mann touched on.

Access to broadband in rural areas need to be discussed and expanded because of COVID-19 and how it’s impacted schools and telemedicine.

“We talk about doing school from home, we talk about telehealth, telemedicine, that doesn't really work unless you have a really good internet connection, so I think that is a critical thing that is going to come out,” he said. “I hope to see Congress and others put a higher priority on getting rural broadband in all of our communities.”

Mann also discussed day care.

It’s not always a topic at the forefront of talk about economic development, but it’s an issue that needs to be addressed, Mann said. To get people to return to work, to return to places like Garden City and other communities in District 1, there needs to be good day care.

“I think we need to look at the regulations around day cares,” he said. “Of course everybody is for safety for our kids, the regulations that we require maybe in downtown Wichita should be different than in a smaller, more rural community.”