A former Wellsville High School graduate and current lawyer has a burning desire to make life better for everyone.

That obsession led Mark Samsel, Wellsville, to announce he is a Republican candidate for the Kansas House of Representative District 5 post. The seat is held by Kevin Jones, R-Wellsville, who has announced his intentions to run for the 2nd Congressional District seat being vacated by Lynn Jenkins.

The Kansas House District 5 spans parts of Anderson, Franklin, Linn, and Miami counties, including the cities of Osawatomie, Garnett, Colony, Rantoul, Westphalia, Lane, Princeton, Greeley, Richmond and Wellsville.

“I’m running to represent District 5 in the Kansas House of Representatives because our state is at a crossroads,” Samsel, a 2003 Wellsville grad, said. “We need to ensure our state budget funds and prioritizes critical state services like public safety and mental health even as we increase education dollars to give Kansas students the tools to thrive in the 21st century economy.”

Samsel wants to inspire the state to work together to solve problems.

“The biggest thing for me is a culture change,” Samsel, who practices law with the Lathrop Gage law firm, Kansas City, Missouri, said. “Culture is No. 1 and showing people that we can be still be civil and do these things in a democratic fashion and get along with one another. I am not running to be a politician. That has such a negative connotation. To me, it is all about public service and helping people. That means everybody.”

Samsel said education is an issue close to his heart. He said education is the backbone to a better work force throughout the state and nation and sees all generations sharing his passion for a better tomorrow.

“We see these fires in the eyes of everyone at high school graduations,” Samsel said. “We see it in our trade school and college graduates, millennials and non-traditional students alike. We see it every time our friends and neighbors buy their first homes, get married, and continue the circle of life. We see it as well in our farmers, school teachers, police officers, firefighters, first responders, military veterans, manual laborers, oil field workers, health care professionals, and other hardworking individuals and families. Our seniors, too, carry this fire as they pass on their infinite wisdom, love, and affection to our younger generations.”

Samsel said the Legislature made strides in 2017 to get the state’s economic woes on the right path, but other issues need to be addressed.

“While the Legislature’s perspective on responsible governing improved since the 2016 election cycle, more work can be done, specifically with regard to our state’s physical and mental health infrastructure,” Samsel said.

“I want to work with change agents in the Legislature to continue forward progress on these issues which hit close to home for my future constituents in Osawatomie and the surrounding communities which staff and serve the facility. I care about our community and want to see our state grow and prosper. We need strong, independent leadership willing to ask the tough questions and make the tough choices to get our state back on track.”

Samsel said his experience working as a lawyer and a high school official for basketball and soccer gives him a perspective on how to view both sides of an issue.

“From enforcing the rules on one court to litigating them in another, both sports and the law have taught [me] to ‘call it both ways, ref!,’” Samsel said. “Understanding and empathy for all sides of an issue helps to arrive at a better solution for all Kansans — and for the Fifth District.”

Samsel is looking forward to talking issues with voters, he said.

“I’m honored and humbled by this opportunity,” he said. “House District 5, we can be the light to ignite and spread the fire all over Kansas and beyond. We’ve got serious problems to solve, and there’s no time to waste. I hope you’ll join this movement and make us ‘One Louder and One Brighter,’ as we tell the world loud and clear that Kansas House District 5 has had enough. I don’t pretend to be perfect or that we’ll always agree on every single detail, but I do promise you my best, and to be honest, respectful, consider all sides and possible solutions, and then exercise my independent judgment each and every time I’m called to do so.”