By JIM MISUNAS
STAFFORD — Stafford USD 349 Superintendent Mary Jo Taylor, (R-Stafford) has filed to run in the Aug. 2 Republican primary for Kansas State Senate District 33. The Senate District seat 33 is held by Sen. Mitch Holmes, R-St. John.
The 33rd District covers Barton, Edwards, Kiowa, Lane, Ness, Pawnee, Pratt, Rush, Scott and Stafford counties, and parts of Hodgeman and Rice counties. Holmes and Taylor both reside in Stafford County.
“Our state and our rural way of life are under attack by legislation which compromises our very livelihood. Every day, decisions are made which threaten the sustainability of our schools, our infrastructure and our businesses,” Taylor said. “As our state revenues have fallen off a cliff, irresponsible politicians who claim to be fiscally responsible are spending on a credit card instead of addressing real issues. These Washington DC-style politics are unacceptable.”
She served as principal of Stafford’s middle school/high school for five years before becoming superintendent. Taylor has received several supportive calls.
“Being a teacher, principal and superintendent, I’ve worried about public education and about the way things are going,” she said. “I didn’t have to think very long about running. I like what I’m doing as a superintendent. I’m always hopeful it will be a good legislative session. But already there has been legislation proposed that has some people concerned.”
Taylor will focus her campaign on providing a quality education, fiscal responsibility and protecting rural Kansas. The native Kansan has worked in education for 30 years as a teacher, principal and district superintendent.
“Our district needs a strong leader to solve problems instead of playing politics,” Taylor said. “I will fight for a Kansas where my children and grandchildren can grow up to receive a quality education, good-paying jobs and a bright future — a Kansas we can be proud to call home. Our state has veered away from these goals. I ask for the people of the 33rd Senate District to stand up with me and take back our state from policy-makers who have been remiss in their responsibility.”
She said rural Kansas healthcare and economic development are also important topics.
“Economic development is a topic that I’m passionate about,” she said. “Most of my volunteer time is associated with economic development. Rural healthcare issues are also important. Our state has not approved Medicare reimbursement, which is costing our state.”
Taylor informed the Stafford USD 349 school board of her intention of filing for the Senate District seat. By law, Taylor would not be required to leave her job as superintendent if she earns the legislative spot.
Taylor has served as Stafford USD 349 superintendent for 15 years. Taylor launched the Stafford Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (SEED) Program, an innovative approach for meeting the educational and school-to-work preparation needs of high school students. SEED Center classes are elective classes. Students will learn entrepreneurship and marketing principles while participating in individual and group projects. Students operate an entrepreneurship project and utilize marketing strategies to promote a business project.
Her husband, Todd Taylor, is administrator of the Stafford District Hospital. They are parents to six adult children, ranging in age from 29 to 34.
Taylor was born in Pratt and the family lived in Plains, Claflin, Dodge City and Syracuse. She started her career in education as a high school social studies teacher in Belle Plaine.
Holmes is chairman of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee. Holmes earned the Senate seat by defeating incumbent Ruth Teichman in August 2012. Teichman was a former school board member for Stafford USD 349. Holmes served in the Kansas House of Representatives since 2005. No Democrat ran for the 33rd Senate seat in 2012. Democrats have until June 1 to file for the 2016 race.