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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

Interview of James (Jim) Maag, July 17, 2014

Interviewed by Burdett Loomis
In this 2014 oral history interview, Jim Maag reflects on his service in the Kansas House of Representatives (1969-1976) including his term as Speaker Pro Tem (1975-1976). It was a time of significant change and modernization of the Kansas Legislature and its processes. Maag provides a clear view into the evolution of the Legislature into a more professional organization. He comments on the bipartisan approaches to policymaking during that era when the urban-rural split affected the dynamic more often than purely partisan considerations. He was witness to the impact of the one person, one vote Show Morecourt case as well as the increased number of women legislators and the reduced number of attorneys. Jim's recollections draw a vivid picture of an institution in transition. His connection with the Legislature continued in his role of legislative liaison for Governor Bennett and later as a lobbyist for the Kansas Bankers Association. Show Less
Speaker Doug Mays

Interview of Doug Mays, September 25, 2020

Interviewed by Alan Conroy
This interview with former Speaker Doug Mays contains good insight into how the Kansas House of Representatives functioned at the end of the Twentieth Century and the first decade of the Twenty-First. The institution was changing as its membership became more conservative. Mays describes in great detail how its leadership dealt with controversial issues such as school finance and taxation. Mays cites two issues as his proudest accomplishments: passing a sales tax to lower property taxes for Washburn University and neighborhood revitalization legislation. Speaker Mays notes that every time a bill came through, he read Show Moreit. His discussion of the power of the speaker is illustrated with numerous examples. “ I believed in the process. I believed that the speaker was the keeper, the protector of the process.” He promoted civility in the body and developed a good relationship with the Minority Leader Dennis McKinney which allowed him to end the 2005 Special Session without adjourning sine die. Mays promoted greater use of technology for the legislature and tightening of deadlines to ensure smooth operations. There are several examples of his relationship with governors. Anyone interested in being a speaker should read this interview. Show Less
Alicia Salisbury, Kansas

Interview of Alicia Salisbury, October 23, 2020

Interviewed by Patty Clark
Former Senator Alicia Salisbury grew up in a political family--both father and grandfather served in the legislature--so her sixteen years of service as a Kansas Senator continued the family tradition. She also was a serious legislator who believed in community service as witnessed by the numerous boards and committees on which she served, both volunteer and elected. Salisbury's driving interests were improving the economy of Kansas and bringing growth in wealth to her community and state. Salisbury's 2020 oral history interview chronicles her work ethic. With her children no longer at home, she had the Show Moretime and the interest to dive into a wide assortment of issues, from workforce development, to interstate banking, to telecommunication reform, to a blue ribbon panel on workers compensation. Salisbury worked long hours and focused on constituent services. She boldly asked for the committees that interested her and championed changes where necessary. Salisbury succeeded in changing the Labor and Industry Committee into the Commerce Committee to handle everything from economic development strategies to workers compensation. She tackled tough issues with a sense of humor and the skills of collaboration learned as a volunteer leader. This interview describes her determination, her commitment, and her legacy to the state of Kansas as Vice President of the Senate. Show Less
Susan Wagle, Kansas

Interview of Susan Wagle, December 18, 2020

Interviewed by Alan Conroy
Former Kansas legislator Susan Wagle describes her interest in politics as "evolving over time." In this interview she candidly talks about her journey to become the first woman to break the glass ceiling and be elected to the top leadership position in the Kansas Senate. And she held onto the Senate Presidency for two terms. Wagle cites several events as having shaped her decision to run: getting a free pregnancy test and learning it was from an abortion clinic; seeing the huge property tax bills resulting from classification and reappraisal and how they angered people; enactment Show Moreof bingo legislation that affected he business negatively--all of which led to awareness that government could have an impact on families and businesses. Once in the Legislature, Wagle developed legislation to control property taxes. When an incumbent left a Senate seat, Wagle moved to the other chamber. She formed alliances in both the House and Senate with a group of conservative legislators enabling her to attain leadership positions. Wagle authored the Woman's Right to Know Act and solicited support from a prochoice Senator to get it passed--the first pro-life legislation. As a committee chair Wagle felt she had greater ability to pass bills that were needed. The issues she addressed ranged from protecting ground water from corporate hog farming, to tax-limiting measures, to ethics. Wagle credits her many years of service to listening to her constituents on issues such as taxation, quality of life, and education. In the closing of this interview, Wagle talks about her last year with COVID which she describes as "horrific" and disruptive. She reflects on her accomplishments changing the Board of Healing Arts and dealing with the Bioscience Authority. Show Less
Interview of Jayne Aylward

Interview of Jayne Aylward, June 18, 2021

Interviewed by Alan Conroy
Jayne Aylward Oral History Interview describes her experiences as one of the youngest members of the Kansas House of Representatives. Aylward was elected in 1978 from the 74th District in Saline County, Kansas. She served from 1979 to 1990 when she resigned to become an administrative tax judge with the Kansas Board of Tax Appeals. She later became a Certified Public Accountant specializing in tax matters. Aylward is a rancher and stockwoman in addition to having a thriving tax practice in Salina. During the interview she discusses her interest in agriculture and taxation which came Show Morefrom growing up on her family farm and her participation in 4-H showing cattle. During the 1985-1986 legislative session, she was the Chair of the House Communications, Computers and Technology Committee. She also served on the House Federal and State Affairs committee and the House Taxation committee, both of which handled high-profile issues that she discussed in the interview, including reappraisal and classification of property taxes and a constitutional amendment authorizing the Kansas lottery. Show Less

Interview of Jack Wempe, September 28, 2021

Interviewed by Alan Conroy
Jack Wempe of Rice County gave a detailed interview about the decade of the 1990's he spent in the Kansas House of Representatives. He played pivotal roles in the passage of the 1992 school finance bill and legislation to consolidate governance in higher education. He worked with members of both parties to pass legislation important to rural communities as well as education. Wempe became interested in taxation and economic development. Wempe also comments on the shift in philosophy of the Republican party during his time in office and its move to a more conservative leadership. Show MoreAt the conclusion of his legislative service, Wempe was appointed to the Board of Regents where he became chair in 2003. Show Less
How Things Got Done

How Things Got Done in the Kansas Legislature

In this video, compiled from interviews on this site, 12 former Kansas legislators who served from 1960-2010 talk about why they ran for public office, how they developed and executed strategy, and how different leaders perceived their roles and what they accomplished. Among others you will hear Dick Bond describe initiating renovation of the Capitol, Steve Morris recall creating a plan to train more engineers, and Fred Kerr explain the need for reappraisal and classification. You also hear Mike Hayden recollect lessons learned from two Speakers with vastly different styles who preceded him – Pete McGill and Wendell Show MoreLady. Show Less

Interview of Jim Maag, September 28, 2021

Interviewed by Joan Wagnon
The Kansas Oral History Project reviewed the original transcript of Dr. Burdett Loomis's interview of Representative Jim Maag and decided to recapture part of the interview on videotape for inclusion in a series on civic education films about the Kansas legislature. This videotaped interview follows the original Loomis interview, asking similar questions. A transcription of the video is also posted here. In the original 2014 oral history interview, Jim Maag reflected on his service in the Kansas House of Representatives (1969-1976) including his term as Speaker pro tem (1975-1976). In this recorded reprise of that interview, Maag's words Show Morecome to life with the video. Maag's years in the House spanned a time of significant change and modernization of the Kansas Legislature and its processes. He provides a view into the evolution of the Legislature into a more professional organization. He comments on the bipartisan approaches to policymaking during that era when the urban-rural split affected the dynamic more often than purely partisan considerations. Maag was witness to the impact of the one person, one vote court case as well as the increased number of women legislators and the reduced number of attorneys. Jim's recollections draw a vivid picture of an institution in transition. His connection with the Legislature continued in his role of legislative liaison for Governor Bennett and later as a lobbyist for the Kansas Bankers Association. 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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