Voters have duty to stay engaged beyond election
According to the official tally released Friday, voter turnout among Kansans for the 2018 midterm election bested that of 2014’s midterm by 20 percent.
A full 58 percent of the state’s 1,841,776 registered voters participated; 39 percent by advanced ballot.
Elections official Kris Kobach regarded the turnout as “extraordinary.”
AND WHILE VOTERS — especially first-time voters — deserve a round of applause, please, don’t take your seats. Instead, use this as a stepping stone to further your civic engagement, starting with keeping a keen eye on the legislature as its session unfolds come January.
In fact, it’s already begun.
On Monday, House Republicans denied moderate Don Hineman of Dighton a second term as majority leader in favor of the more conservative Dan Hawkins of Wichita. With Hawkins and Ron Ryckman, House Speaker from Olathe, at the helm, the House has taken a decided turn to the political right. House Republicans hold a 2-to-1 advantage over Democrats.
Out of the gate, things got even harder for Gov.-elect Laura Kelly, a Democrat.
Harder, but not impossible.
For the last several years, Hawkins and Kelly have worked on health and welfare issues. And while each has taken opposite sides — Kelly is for expanding Medicaid and Hawkins wants to impose eligibility restrictions for food stamps — they reportedly have developed a mutual respect.
With critical issues such as school funding, expanding Medicaid and returning the Kansas Department of Transportation to its original task of funding roads and bridges and not the state budget, such attitudes will be critical.
AMONG the eulogies delivered for recently deceased President George H.W. Bush, runs a prevalent theme of him regarding opponents as those simply with different opinions, not outright enemies, and, hence, an opportunity for corroboration and compromise. President Bush, especially in light of today’s political climate, reminded us that being a public servant is an honorable profession.
By their participation in November’s election, Kansas voters demonstrated they are eager for such leaders; but their job is not done. An engaged citizenry helps remind elected officials to whom they owe their allegiance. Without it, their guiding light can be easily obscured by causes less worthy.