Democratic First District congressional hopeful Jim Sherow said Monday he understands where local officials are coming from when they worry about federal funding, transportation, agriculture and other issues that impact the economy of rural Kansas.
Sherow, who hopes to unseat incumbent two-term Republican Tim Huelskamp, is the former Mayor of Manhattan. Many of the issues he faced are being faced by leaders in similar small cities, he said.
He was in town Monday afternoon to meet with Great Bend Chamber of Commerce President Jan Peters and Great Bend City Administrator Howard Partington. He will kick off a 10-day tour of the communities of the Big First Saturday in Emporia.
“People wonder why can’t congressmen and women work together to solve the problems of this nation,” Sherow said. “I have a willingness to work with others, regardless of their party.”
In the partisan bickering and extremist views, these issues get lost.
“We have practical things that need to be solved,” he said. Ranging from infrastructure to energy to the economy, these get overshadowed by social issues.
With over 63 counties, the First District is one of the largest congressional districts in the United States. It is also number one in wheat and beef production, and has the third largest ag economy of any district, Sherow said.
“Yet, we have no representation on the House ag committee,” he said, noting Huelskamp’s ouster from the panel. “Why? He doesn’t get along with his own party’s leadership, let alone those across the aisle.”
Sherow did say a more moderate budgetary stance is emerging, even from the Republican ranks. He called the so-called sequester (an across-the-board spending cut that hit all federal agencies) a blunt instrument. “There needs to be more common sense about these cuts.”
He has been slammed by his opponents as wanting to slash defense spending, but he said that is not the case. He believes in a more targeted approach, such as reviewing how many services the military farms out to private contractors.
It is unconscionable, he said, there are families of service personnel on food stamps, while the service man or woman keeps getting redeployed overseas.
Meanwhile, Sherow worries about the influence of lobbyists in Washington. “If you don’t pay attention to what’s going one on the ground in your own district, it is easy to lose touch.”
As for himself, “I’m 63. This isn’t a career move. My intetrest is really representing the district.”
Since the beginning of his campaign, Sherow has been criss-crossing Western Kansas. “I’m incredibly excited to re-visit these communities I’ve come to know and love,” Sherow said. “The Big First is a unique, innovative and vitally important district in this country.”
Sherow will be making personal stops along the way, visiting his family homestead in Reno County, where his great-grandparents settled after the Civil War. Major community stops include Colby, Dodge City, Garden City, Hays, Hutchinson, Liberal, Larned, McPherson, Salina, Scott City and Wamego.
He will also probably be back in Great Bend at some point.
“I think voters want a chance to be heard,” Sherow said. “Kansans want more than charts and lectures, they want solutions to the problems their families face. I want to represent more than just the people who agree with me, I want to represent everyone in the Big First.”
Just prior to the kick off event in Emporia, Sherow will be visiting with republican farmers in Northwest Kansas, then returning to Manhattan for the K-State Homecoming Parade on Friday, Oct. 24.
Sherow is a historian and former Mayor of Manhattan. From 2007 to 2012, as city commissioner and as mayor, he helped launch major projects creating a new shopping district, an entertainment district, and an enhanced main street.
He served in the United States Air Force from 1970 to 1974.
After leaving the USAF, he graduated from Wichita State University with dual degrees in History and Secondary Education in 1976, and he received in Masters in History in 1978. After three years teaching high school, he went on to earn his PhD at the University of Colorado.
In 1992 he joined the Department of History at Kansas State University. He and his wife Bonnie are the parents of four daughters. The couple also run the Daughters House Bed and Breakfast.