We are the Johnson County Democratic Women, North and South
We are sister organizations, working together to engage women in politics and help get Democrats in Johnson County elected.
A Light in the Dark
by: Christine Morgan
The 2021 legislative session has been turbulent, to say the least. From déjà vu over tax cuts eerily reminiscent of the Brownback experiment to attacks on our transgender friends and legislative overreach into our schools, it has sometimes been hard to watch. Yet each and every day, our elected Democrats have gone into those chambers, heads held high, and made the case for sanity.
A few weeks ago, I asked Democratic Senators and Representatives from Johnson County to share something positive from the legislative session, a point of pride or glimmer of hope. This proved to be a challenging request! There is no doubt that this has been a dark year, and that we have a lot of work ahead of us to re-elect Governor Kelly in 2022 and get our Democratic Representatives a few more friends.
Despite the challenges, many of our elected officials were able to shine a light in the dark, presented below in their own words. But the consensus was that we need to build our base. Our best hope is for the future, and to achieve that, we must all work together, starting now.
THANK YOU to every Democratic senator and representative in Topeka, fighting the good fight. And a special thank you to those who were able to take time from their busy schedules to share some hope with us today.
From Our Democratic Legislators…
Dinah Sykes, Senate Minority Leader:
While the 2021 legislative session has been politically challenging – and I don’t want to downplay the very real problems our state is facing as a result of the extremism in the Kansas Legislature – it has also been very rewarding for me as a Kansas Democrat. My caucus has fought tirelessly for commonsense policies that put Kansans first and has fought just as hard against the many bad bills that have come to the Senate floor. We are a dynamic and resilient group, and I know that while we don’t win every fight, we will never stop fighting for what’s right for Kansas families.
Senator Ethan Corson:
I’m proud that I was able to get my worker safety bill signed into law. The legislation is supported by both our friends in Organized Labor and the utility and telecommunications companies. The bill passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support. It requires drivers approaching utility and telecommunications vehicles pulled over on the side of the road with their flashing lights on, to slow down and move over a lane if they can safely do so, and if they can’t move over, to proceed with caution and slow down, just like drivers have to do for police cars and ambulances. It’s a simple but important step we can take to protect these workers, whose jobs are already dangerous and difficult.
Senator Pat Pettey:
The 2021 legislative session has been extremely challenging with a super majority of conservative Republicans in the Kansas senate. Under the leadership of Dinah Sykes, the Democratic senators have worked extremely hard to support Governor Kelly and her fiscally conservative budget to fund K-12 schools, provide for higher ed, maintain our infrastructure system, and state services that Kansans rely on.
I am most proud of my work through the Early Learning caucus to provide three educational seminars for legislators and for working to defeat the Student Enpowerment Act. Just a name for vouchers that directly take base state aid. A strong public education system is good for our children, our families, our economy, and the future stability of our state. Public education is the fuel for individual and state prosperity.
Thank you so much for all the support the JOCO Dems have provided.
Representative Jarrod Ousley:
While this year has been challenging, there have been surprising successes. The Senate blocking the horrible education funding position pushed by far right extremists in the house, and the failure of the Senate’s attempt to co-opt the good work the House Children and Seniors committee accomplished with the Office of the Child Advocate bill will allow us to fight once again to pass a positive, bi-partisan Office of the Child Advocate for our state’s vulnerable children. While the horrible and discriminatory anti-trans bill has unfortunately passed along with voter suppression bills, we have Governor Kelly as a backstop to veto dangerous legislation, and that is because of everyone who worked so hard to get her elected. With the success of the Biden Administration in delivering stimulus checks and vaccines, we are hopefully now able to see the light at the end of the Covid tunnel, and we can continue to work for good policy here in Kansas.
Representative Linda Featherston:
The highlight of my first legislative session was Music in our Schools Day on March 18th. Along with Reps. Stogsdill and Curtis, I helped arrange a proclamation celebrating music and the arts in schools and the teachers of these subjects. The proclamation had widespread support from both sides of the aisle. To top off the day, Rep. Byers, Thomas, and I performed over the noon hour. For one hour, the Capitol was a joyful place where we didn’t have to worry about all the issues on which we disagree. Legislators and staff just gathered in the rotunda to enjoy the celebration. I must say that a good time was had by all. Although, this wasn’t part of my motivation in scheduling Rep. Byers to perform, I hope her performance can help our colleagues across the aisle see what a truly wonderful person she is and realize that our LGBTQ+ sisters and brothers deserve our support and protection.
Senator Cindy Holscher:
There are two rules about Topeka:
1) Bad bills never die
2) If you think it’s bad now, keep in mind, it can always get worse
So, here are the implications. First, there were a number of bad bills that were brought forward in the session that didn’t make it all the way through the process. Don’t expect those bills to just go away; they’ll be back next session or even possibly, during the veto session in May. We have to be vigilant and keep putting pressure on legislators to do the right thing.
Secondly, things are bad in Topeka, but know it CAN get worse, in fact, much worse. Right now the extremists have a supermajority, however, they can’t always get members of their party aligned to get the 2/3 needed to overturn vetoes by the Governor. If, however, we lose Laura Kelly in 2022, then they will only need a simple majority to get horrible bills across the finish line. Frankly, this group with their extreme ideology will make the Brownback years look like child’s play. Keep in mind, Senators have four year terms; none of them will be on the ballot in 2022. So, our lot is cast in that regard. That is why it is imperative that we re-elect Gov. Kelly and try to pick up a few House seats. That work starts now. Donate what you can to Laura’s re-election. Communicate to your friends and neighbors the fact that despite a pandemic, Gov. Kelly and Lt. Gov. Toland are bringing in a substantial level of business growth to our state. Additionally, she started her term with the state in shambles. Due to her efforts and the fact that revenue growth increased, we were able to enter this pandemic on much stronger footing than if her predecessor had been in office. Additionally, she gets no help in any way from the extremist legislature, particularly leadership; their goal has consistently been to deny the Governor any wins, even if that means it hurts the people (i.e. preventing Medicaid Expansion).
So, there’s no time to rest; it’s time to get busy! The future of our state hangs in the balance.
Building the Future of Tomorrow, Today
The work of electing Democrats doesn’t take a year off. In odd years, we still have to organize, engage voters, and recruit volunteers. Much of this work is done by candidates for local office, at the bedrock of American democracy where many important decisions are made that directly impact our lives. These public servants set policies for essential infrastructure such as schools, roads, and energy. They also often become our future senators, representatives, and governors.
Dean Vakas for Olathe City Council At Large is already hard at work, and he needs your help to reach over a hundred thousand potential voters. His campaign is actively recruiting volunteers right now to knock doors and make phone calls. They’re even offering training, so whether you’re an old pro or have never canvassed before, they can help you make a real difference in your community. Get started now by clicking one of the links below.
Feel free to e-mail the campaign with any questions or concerns, or if none of the canvassing shifts will work out for you: firstname.lastname@example.org
Let’s all get to work today to build a better world for tomorrow.
April South Meeting Recap
Thank you to Representative Brandon Woodard for a riveting discussion about student debt and the cost of college education. And for fighting for student debt relief in Kansas.
Representative Woodard shared that Kansas has done practically nothing to attract youth to our state, or to help keep them here after graduation. No wonder we’re losing our youth! In the recession of 2008, Kansas made significant cuts to funding for higher education, causing tuition to go up dramatically. We now need senators and representatives in Topeka who believe in funding education at ALL levels, from prekindergarten through post-secondary education.
Thanks to all who attended – it was a lively discussion!
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Ready to take political discussions to the next level? Why not run for office!
We’ve already got some great candidates, but we still need a few more. If you have EVER thought of running for office, we have great opportunities on a local level – school board, city councils, mayors, and more. Check out the list of positions available at:
See you online soon!
President, JCDW South
April North Meeting Recap
Highlights from Becky Fast, Johnson Board of County Commissioners, April 1, 2021
In 2016, the BOCC was all male; since 2020, there is a 4-3 majority of women.
Every 10 years, a Charter Commission must be formed to review the County Charter. This commission was convened in 2021 to have recommendations by February 2022. The importance of electing Democrats to the Kansas legislature from Johnson County has had a major positive effect on the Charter Commission. The Republican majority Kansas Senate has assigned three Republicans to the commission. The Johnson County majority Democratic legislators have assigned three Democrats. Republicans and Democrats are evenly represented in the Charter Commission.
Appointed by the Senate – Republican Legislators have the majority
1. Wendy Bingesser
2. Jane Dirks
3. Karin Brownlee
Appointed by the JOCO-KS House of Representatives – Johnson County Democratic Legislators have the majority
1. Dawn Rattan
2. Zach Thomas
3. Ed Peterson
By Johnson County Political Parties
1. Jim Denning – R
2. Greg Smith – R
3. Joy Koesten – D
4. Greg Shelton – D
The KC Regional Climate Action Plan has a goal of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The county has placed greater emphasis on aging services like in-home services and meals delivered.
There is increased emphasis on mental health.
The issue of affordable housing is being studied.
The process of renaming Negro Creek is underway with community input.
Becky Fast is up for reelection in 2022!
KFDW 2021 Virtual State Convention April 30-May 2
The women of the Kansas First Congressional District are pleased to host the 2021 KFDW Virtual State Convention. We are proud to offer an interesting, fun and robust program over the 3 days of the convention. From the meet-n-greet on Friday night to the presenters, speakers and elections on Saturday, we look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones, as well as walking away on Sunday with actionable information on leadership and fundraising.
Friday, April 30-Sunday, May 2.
Cost: FREE, but love donations are welcome.
It is through donations that KFDW is able to turn around and donate to candidates. During the 2020 election cycle, KFDW donated $3,000 to the following State House and Senate candidates:
2022, KFDW will donate to Governor/Lt Governor and five statewide races as well as the State House races.
Our mission is to empower women to run for office and to support the election of like-minded Democrats to state and local office. We do this through education and training, but especially through donations to qualified candidates. Your financial donation to either of our organizations will go directly to Democratic candidates running in Johnson County.