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Topic: Kansas Chamber of Commerce

Senator Fred Kerr

Interview of Fred Kerr, March 30, 2015

Interviewed by Burdett Loomis
This is the first of two oral history interviews of Fred Kerr in this collection. (Ed Flentje conducted the second interview 2018.) Kerr reflects on his 15 years in the Kansas Senate representing the 33rd Senate district. He recalls Senate leaders and fellow Senators who helped him as a freshman and the influence of those mentors on his career. Fred talks extensively about the process involved in securing a leadership position in the Senate and the dynamics of leadership races. He also reflects on the urban-rural divide in Kansas politics that during the late Show More1970s and early to mid 1980s was often more of a force than the partisan divide. A version of this interview is also posted on KansasMemory.org, the website of the Kansas Historical Society. A more recent oral history interview of Fred Kerr is here. Show Less
steve morris kansas senate

Interview of Stephen Morris, July 15, 2020

Interviewed by Joan Wagnon
Senate President Steve Morris gives a lengthy and detailed account of his twenty years in the Senate and his eight years as president. A former Hugoton school board member, Morris challenged a 16 year incumbent Democrat (Leroy Hayden) and won by a 2:1 margin in the 1992 election. During this period there were several high profile issues which Morris championed. Casino gambling passed in 2007 after a 12 hour filibuster. A coal-fired plant (Sunflower Electric) in Holcomb wanted to expand but Governor Sebelius vetoed that bill, twice. The Special Session of 2005 dealt with a Show MoreSupreme Court order to increase education funding to constitutional levels which took 12 days to develop a consensus. A 2010 transportation plan was passed during a recession. Morris initiated a three-university plan to increase the number of engineers in the state by 65 percent beginning in 2011, assisted by Senator Carolyn McGinn. Governor Sam Brownback's "tax experiment" which was passed in 2012 took huge amounts out of the transportation plan to close budget gaps. The interview contains a detailed account of the shenanigans that took place after the Senate refused to pass the Brownback bill. The Governor pleaded with Morris to reverse their action and send the bill to conference, which Morris did, only to find the House concurring to pass the original bill. Morris ran again, but was defeated in a Republican primary. Show Less

Interview of Gary Sherrer, October 15, 2021

Interviewed by Mike Matson
Gary Sherrer was a debater and it changed his life. His reflections on growing up in Topeka, winning a debate scholarship to Kansas State Teachers College and then teaching for eight years are the perfect backdrop to his later achievements. His association with the Graves Trucking Company and soon-to-be-Governor Bill Graves paved the way for him to become Bill Graves' Lt. Governor. Sherrer won the respect of many Kansas leaders, including Henry Bubb and Jordan Haines, two preeminent bankers who recruited him to the banking industry as chief marketing officer, and later, lobbyist when multi-bank holding company Show Morelegislation was pending. His debate skills served him well as a lobbyist, enabling the controversial bill to pass by one vote. He developed the Leadership Kansas model to train leaders. He knew how to solve community problems and displayed those skills as Secretary of Commerce for Governor Graves. One of his proudest accomplishments was the STAR bonds project in Wyandotte County, with Mayor Carol Marinovich. The interview is replete with examples of programs he developed or guided to fruition. It is interesting to read all the anecdotes about the political scene. Show Less
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