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Diverse Voices in Public Policy2022-05-05T17:47:39-05:00

Diverse Voices in Public Policy

About this Collection

Diverse Voices in Public Policy contains interviews with former legislators, cabinet officials, or other prominent policymakers. The collection is significant because interviewers have explored a range of issues including race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. These interviews show how the composition of the legislature and state government changed with respect to diversity, and what challenges existed for persons of color and other minority groups.

Interview of Eugene Anderson, April 21, 2022

Interviewed by Frances Jackson
Senator Anderson's interview covers his 20 year career in Kansas politics, serving in both House and Senate and later, in the administration of Governor Joan Finney and as a Wichita business man and author. Anderson describes growing up in Georgia and the values he learned in his segregated community - work hard, never quit, build relationships and make your community better. His issue when he went to the legislature was making the schools better. Anderson describes his friendship with Governor Joan Finney, going back to when she was State Treasurer and how he asked her not to Show Moreinvest in the apartheid government in South Africa. Later, she appointed him Director of Aviation and he was able to work with other state directors to support the Kansas aviation industry on product liability legislation. Throughout the interview Anderson reveals his philosophy of effective governance. Show Less

Interview of Carolyn Campbell, March 25, 2022

Interviewed by Eric. Sexton
Mrs. Campbell, as she is known around the Statehouse, has experienced an important part of state history in Kansas government. Following her 1991 retirement from Southwestern Bell, she has served countless numbers of elected legislators; then using that experience , she became an elected official in her own right in local and state school board positions. becoming the first African American to serve on the Kansas Board of Education. Mrs. Campbell started her interview with this: "I am a proud product of segregation. I tell that because folks sometimes think, “Oh, that’s too bad,” Show Morebut I want everybody to know that as a black child in Topeka with the four all-black elementary schools that we had, we got excellent education, and we were told that we could be whatever we wanted to be, and we were valued every day. " This interview covers her experiences as a 12 year member of the Topeka Public Schools Board of Education, and later her eight year term as a member of the State Board of Education where she was the first African American elected to this post. Show Less

Interview of Paul Feleciano, February 11, 2022

Interviewed by Eric Sexton
Paul Feleciano served from 1972 until 2003 in the Kansas Legislature, primarily in the state Senate. During his 31 year tenure he has served on almost every committee. His interview discusses a wide range of issues including groundwater management, mental health reform, changes in the penal system, but his descriptions of the personalities of Senate leadership make that era come alive. He characterizes the men and women serving in the 1970's and 80's as giants --articulate, caring, compassionate problem solvers who would work "across the aisles" to make things happen. As the legislature moved into Show Morethe 21st Century, Feleciano notes the split in the Republican Party between conservatives and moderates became a real problem because the impact was, "they didn't want to compromise." After leaving the legislature, Feleciano was appointed to the Kansas Parole Board and served there for six years. Show Less

Interview of Delia Garcia, April 21, 2022

Interviewed by Frances Jackson
Garcia's interview describes how she was recruited to run for the Kansas Legislature and how she learned how to be a successful leader. She had many role models from Texas Senator Leticia Van der Putte, to Governors Finney and Sebelius, and Sr. Therese Bangert. She told a story about a legislative colleague who complimented her on speaking good English while she was debating a measure requiring English as the official language. Garcia felt humiliated and angry, but one of her mentors talked her out of quitting. She used that experience to begin intentionally training women, Show Moreparticularly women of color, to run for political office. She has written a book on national Latina leadership, to be published at the end of 2022. Garcia also shares her thoughts on immigration and immigrant rights. She cites the fact that Kansas was the fourth state in the country to pass in-state tuition for undocumented students in 2004. To her, immigration policy has an economic impact. Congress should be willing to come to the table and talk, discuss and even compromise to find a solution. The interview concludes with a description of a program at Wichita State University that invests in developing leadership for students. Show Less

Interview of Carlos Mayans, February 11, 2022

Interviewed by Eric Sexton
Wichita, Kansas seems an unlikely place to find a Cuban-American as mayor. But Carlos Mayans' political career hasn't followed traditional paths. One TV station that supported him for Mayor gave him kudos for his tenacity in lowering airfares at the Wichita airport. Mayans' interview highlights his coming to Kansas because of the revolution in Cuba to join his brother and sister. He started his own insurance agency and later, ran for the legislature before becoming Mayor of Wichita. His interview is replete with examples of his interactions with lobbyists, fellow legislators and campaign stories. Show MoreMayans notes that Americans love to label people, and he is difficult to label. He had an impact on health policy as chair of the committee dealing with health issues such as assisted living and skilled nursing care. As Mayor of WIchita , the development of the Affordable Air Fares program was a significant boost to economic development as was the construction of an arena. Show Less

Interview of Melody McCray-Miller, April 21, 2022

Interviewed by Frances Jackson
Melody McCray-Miller describes her job as speaking truth to issues that were relevant at that time, and representing a group of people who were marginalized. Rep. Miller was not the "status quo." She doesn't consider herself a "politician" but instead, a public servant. Her concept of public policy or public service was influenced by the fact that she is a Black woman who was raised in a Black family. She is the daughter of Billy Q. McCray, the first African American Commissioner in Sedgwick County who also served as a state Senator. Show More One of her mentors described her as "tough as leather." Miller was in business with her husband, and also taught school prior to running for office. She detailed how she handled conflicts or incidents of racial discrimination by "pushing forward." The latter part of the interview deals with a variety of legislative issues McCray-Miller initiated or followed. Those issues ranged from early childhood education, to payday lending, juvenile justice and health policy. Show Less

Interview of Barbara Sabol, January 14, 2022

Interviewed by Joan Wagnon
The former Secretary of Aging and Health and Environment under Governor John Carlin describes herself first and foremost as a nurse. That nursing background propelled her into high level positions in the local, state and federal government, always asking how her actions affected the children and the people she served. She started out in leadership positions in Kansas government and academia before being appointed Secretary of Aging by Governor John Carlin. She worked with advocates to establish the Silver-haired Legislature. She worked for Mayor Marion Barry in Washington DC in his office of Policy and Show MorePlanning in the Department of Human Services. Carlin asked her to return to Kansas as Secretary of Health and Environment where she quickly established a reputation as a problem solver for tough issues such as the permanent closure of a waste dump in Furley that leaked toxic chemicals. Sabol talks candidly about the challenges she faced as an African American and a woman and how she met those challenges. The interview concludes with her describing her latest project, housing for young adults who have aged out of the foster care system. Show Less

Interview of Ben Scott, January 14, 2022

Interviewed by Joan Wagnon
Ben Scott describes his life of service as an activist for schools and the community as well as his church. Scott's early experiences with segregation and racism informed his later activities as a member of the Board of Education in Topeka as the district sought to achieve racial balance in its public schools. The desegregation plans he and Sherman Parks Jr. developed in 1990's were instrumental in dismissing the federal lawsuit against the district. Scott was a leader in the Topeka and Kansas NAACP. He pointed out their priorities were finding enough Black teachers as Show Morewell as improving housing. Racial profiling was another NAACP concern that he carried to the Kansas legislature along with his concerns about student achievement and teachers having enough resources. In his interview, Rep. Scott talks candidly about racism in the juvenile justice system, racial profiling, Critical Race Theory (CRT), and the role of the church in dealing with racism. His hopes for continued legislative service were derailed by loss of election in 2016; however, he still pushes for developing standards for teaching Black history. Show Less

Interview of Raphael Wahwassuck, February 28, 2022

Interviewed by Brad Hamilton
The Tribal Council of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation selected Raphael Wahwassuck to interview with KS Oral History about public policymaking by tribal governments. The interview covers how tribal governments relate to local, state and federal governmental units and how Wahwassuck, as a tribal council member, develops effective working relationships. He gives examples of local cooperation using emergency services and law enforcement. He also speaks to the challenges in ensuring equitable distribution of school funding, COVID relief measures and impact aid. Relationships with local governments are easier than at the state or federal level. Show MoreNation to Nation conversations are more difficult. The development of casino gaming produced increased and adequate revenues for the Tribe since they have no tax revenue from property taxes. Their services to their tribal members and surrounding communities have increased as a result of gaming. At the conclusion of the interview, Wahwassuck told a story about being asked to lead the Pledge of Allegiance in his elementary school class and used that story to talk about how his family viewed that the flag, including those who were career military veterans. Show Less
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