Home/Topic: Democrat/
Refine Your Results
  • Interviewee

Topic: Democrat

John Carlin, Kansas

Interview of John Carlin, June 14, 2019

Interviewed by H. Edward (Ed) Flentje
This 2019 interview focuses on the experiences of John Carlin during his legislative career in the House of Representative from 1971-1978 where he led his caucus to achieve the majority party status, and his becoming only the second Democratic House speaker in the 20th Century. The interview contains anecdotes about his experiences in 4-H which he believes developed his leadership skills as well as the issues he embraced during his terms in the House. Carlin also candidly discusses the challenges he faced in working to overturn a veto of a governor of his party. Issues discussed in this interview included Show Moreprisons, the death penalty, reorganizing government, due process for teachers, court unification, centralization of the welfare system at the state level and the politics of roads and transportation. Carlin points to livestock judging as training for making decisions. Carlin believes learning to make fast, accurate decisions contributed to his political success. Show Less

Interview of Dennis McKinney, August 23, 2019

Interviewed by Dale Goter
Dennis McKinney developed many insights in his sixteen years as a leader in the minority party into how the legislature did work, and how it should work. He recounts numerous instances when things worked well because of bipartisan cooperation and compromise. McKinney's experiences on the House Energy and Natural Resources committee working with Carl Holmes and Ken Grotewiel helped shape water policy in Kansas. His experience as a farmer and rancher in south central Kansas coupled with his focus on problem solving led to his reputation as a "middle of the road legislator" who would work Show Morewith both political sides as well as urban and rural. McKinney was committed to public education as well as conservation. The pursuit of fair and balanced tax policy shaped his actions. The interview highlights the importance of leadership from the governor's office and other legislative leaders (Mays, Shallenburger, D. Kerr, Morris). There is an interesting segment about the 2005 Special Session on school finance where McKinney talks about using the courts as leverage. The interview concludes with a brief discussion of the Greensburg tornado. Show Less
Ardena Matlack

Interview of Ardena Matlack, April 8, 2021

Interviewed by Joan Wagnon
Ardena Matlack describes the Kansas House of Representatives in the 1970’s when so few women were in the Kansas Legislature. Additionally, her second term she experienced being in the majority as a Democrat—something that seldom occurred. While in the majority, she started on the Federal and State Affairs committee as Vice-Chair, and moved up to chair the committee the second year of her term. The committee dealt with the ERA, abortion, liquor and a host of controversial issues. She also served on the Judiciary committee. Her discussion of gerrymandering shows the difficulty in dealing Show Morewith reapportionment that led to her husband losing his Senate seat and encouraging her to run for the House. She also dealt with environmental issues and water issues, particularly in Sedgwick County. Matlack worked with Treasurer Joan Finney to get the first Unclaimed Property law passed. Show Less

Interview of John Solbach, June 11, 2021

Interviewed by Alan Conroy
John Solbach served in the Marines, was wounded in combat in Vietnam, returned to Kansas to finish college and law school and ran for the Kansas legislature in 1978. He represented Lawrence/rural Douglas country in the House for 14 years. Solbach's interview is replete with entertaining stories, starting with his Populist ancestors' takeover of the Kansas House in 1890, to stories about how Mike Hayden helped him get a $4,000 appropriation to bring David Eisenhower to Kansas. He teamed up with Wint Winter Jr. to pass a Uniform Conservation Easement Law in spite of Sen. Ross Doyen; Show More he and R.H. Miller stopped a group of rural electric cooperatives from taking the Wolf Creek Nuclear plant out from under the control of the Kansas Corporation Commission. Solbach considers the sentencing guidelines, passed in 1992 while he chaired the House Judiciary Committee as the best legislation of his career. 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 Anthony Hensley, September 16, 2022

Interviewed by Alan Conroy
Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley was first elected to the Kansas House of Representatives in 1976 at the age of 22. He moved to the Senate in 1992, finishing an unexpired term of Senator Nancy Parrish. His interview covers his 44 years in the House and Senate, and almost every issue the legislature dealt with in those years: taxes, reapportionment, school finance and labor issues, to name a few. His story about negotiating with Dick Bond to increase funding for schools is a "must read". Hensley's description of how the Brownback tax cuts were Show Moreenacted after the Senate reconsidered its vote to kill them is a lesson in how parliamentary maneuvering between House and Senate can have unexpected consequences. There are many stories about other leaders and other issues to illustrate how the legislature makes laws. Show Less
Go to Top