Legislative candidates expect to debate familiar issues

Greg Mast

Kansas House incumbents expect COVID-19, the economy and personal safety issues to dominate during the general election season.

Blaine Finch, R-Ottawa, said those issues face every Kansan.

“People want to know that (legislators) are working for them and trying to come up with the right path forward,” Finch said. “That is something I have been trying to do all the years I have been a public servant.

“This one is broader than most we deal with. It is affecting the lives of all Kansans. It is even more important that we be focused and doing everything we can to help people out.’

Mark Samsel, R-Wellsville, said issues can’t be solved without everyone working together.

“The culture and working together (is important),” he said. ‘When we remain divided and at odds with one another (it is tough). The economy and dealing with COVID, those are the two overriding issues. You can’t do one without the other.”

Franklin County’s incumbent state legislators advanced to November’s general election following Tuesday’s primary.

Finch and Samsel won their primaries.

Finch took 70% of the vote in the primary to defeat Shari Weber — in a rematch from the 2018 primary — to earn the Republican nomination for the 59th District. He faces Caren Rugg, D-Ottawa, in the general election.

Samsel won three of the four counties he represents in defeating challenger Mark Powls, R-Garnett, 60% to 40%. He faces Roger Sims, D-Parker, in House District 5 in November.

Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, ran unopposed in the Senate District 12 primary. She faces Mike Bruner, D-Humboldt, a retired teacher, in the general election. Tyson is seeking her third term.

Samsel said the margin of victory shows he is on the right path with voters.

“It was a reassurance we are doing the right thing,” he said. “Two years ago, my No. 1 thing is that we needed to do is we have to change the culture. That remains to be true. It is time to come together for the good of our district. I was proud to have that support.”

Finch said voters resonate with how he represents them in Topeka.

“I consistently try to put the people in this district first with the work I do,” Finch said. “I try to be their voice in Topeka. I try to do my homework on issues. I do explain (my vote), the reasons behind it, so that everyone can understand that. Whether we agree or not may be in question. What I try to [pride] myself on doing is providing good service to the people in this district and letting them know where I stand.”

Finch said the fall campaign is important for many reasons.

“When you work in this job you have to be focused on how you bring people together, how you unite people and how you work together to get something accomplished,” he said. “I have the experience in doing that. I will continue to do that regardless of whether we are in a primary or general election.

“The thing we have coming up in the next year or two is looking at redistricting. We will be redrawing all those district boundaries. Franklin County has been cut up in four different districts before. We don’t want that to happen again. One of the ways we do that is by having experience in the legislature at the time we redistrict.”

Samsel said there are groups he is fighting to keep at bay in Topeka.

“Special interests, their interests are different than the public good,” Samsel said. (Being divided) is when they are able to get more of what they want at the expense of the rest of us. The longer we stay divided, it hurts the rest of us.

“Our actions have consequences.”