Editor's note: The following includes responses from the candidates in the Republican Primary race for Insurance Commissioner. Those responses were omitted from the July 31 print edition of the Haysville Sun-Times due to space limitations.
We asked candidates in contest primary races to respond to our questionnaire. We contacted candidates in all statewide races as well as the U.S. House and Senate races. There are no countywide races impacting local voters in our coverage area.
Following are the responses that were sent in. If a candidate did not respond, it is noted. Candidates who are not facing a primary challenge were not contacted for this voter’s guide. We will solicit that information as the General Election approaches this fall.
Candidates were asked the following three questions:
1) What is your background (work, family, civic involvement)?
2) What are your qualifications for office?
3) What do you see as the top issues in your race, and how would you address them?
Kansas House 93rd District
George “Joe” Edwards II
1. Ordained Minister with the Assemblies of God for nearly 45 years. Pastored 4 full-time churches in Oklahoma, Tennessee and Kansas. Retired, former owner of J&S Towing, Wichita. Married to Sally for nearly 40 years, four children, three grandkids. Former Secretary of the Haysville Junior Football League along with the South Central Football League for nine years.
2. Pastored, held board meetings. As a pastor I counseled many people. One must listen to those with needs, just as a legislator must listen to the people who are in need. Now I have served two years in the Kansas House District 93.
3. Jobs are a top issue. Kansas legislators have been working on helping bring jobs to Kansas now for more than four years. With the lessening of the Kansas Income Tax and by dropping the taxes for small business, Kansas has more than 30,000 new applications for businesses to come to Kansas. Also, 1.4 million people are working in Kansas. This is more than ever before.
Gun issues are a concern to most of the people of Kansas. They know that the Kansas legislature has worked diligently on these issues over the past many years. Getting more money into the classroom is an issue for legislators. We have worked to get more into the classrooms over the past many years. Since the departure of the last Democratic governor, who took money from the schools, the legislators have put more money back into the schools and much of this money has gone into the classroom. Have all the moneys been returned? No, but it is getting closer to what the high was and will eventually get there. Also, the formula needs to be reworked for how to get money to the child. This has been an ongoing concern with many legislators for many years.
1. My wife, Marlena, and I live in southwest Sedgwick County with our four dogs and welcomed our grandson, Nolan, into the family in March. I have lived in Sedgwick County for more than 30 years and am proud of my family roots in Kansas, which date back to the late 1800s. I attended the University of Kansas and studied Political Science and Public Administration.
I have been in the catering, event planning, sales and marketing industry for more 25 years. While attending the University of Kansas I co-founded a small event production company, which produced conventions and trade shows throughout the state. In 2012, my wife and I decided to start another small business, KanCon Inc., producing conventions and events in Kansas and Oklahoma. In 2008, I was recognized by the Wichita Business Journal as one of Wichita’s “40 Under 40” Honorees for my work in the special events industry.
I am a former member of the Wichita Pachyderm Club’s Board of Directors and currently serve on the City of Wichita’s District IV Advisory Board, the Wichita Crime Commission and the Sedgwick County Community Services Block Grant Review Committee. In 2012, I was appointed by Gov. Sam Brownback to serve a four-year term as Chairman of the Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training.
Members of Asbury United Methodist Church, we are also very active in the local community and are passionate about our public service. We are proud supporters of Music Theatre of Wichita, where I serve on the Celebrations Committee. I have served as President of our H.O.A. and have been involved in a number of charity events including the Cattleman’s Ball, Death by Chocolate at Exploration Place and the annual U.S. Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots campaign.
2. I believe my diverse business background and political and civic involvement give me a good understanding of the issues. I also have a sincere desire to serve the people of our district and have spent years working hard to promote Kansas and pro-business policies. I know that the success of our farmers, ranchers and small businesses is very important to the future of rural Kansas and to the Kansas economy.
3. Job Growth: In order to help grow our economy we must decrease over-reaching regulations and mandates and push tax rates lower. I know small businesses create jobs, not government. Small businesses employ over half of all private sector workers and are responsible for 44 percent of private sector payrolls in Kansas. They have also created 64 percent of the private sector jobs over the past 15 years. I will work to support and promote new and growing businesses.
Education: All of our children deserve a quality education and Kansas invests half of our state general fund each year in our schools to make this possible. At the same time it is irresponsible to merely focus on funding levels without any discussion of how funds are spent or student outcomes achieved. My goal in Topeka will be to ensure more of those education dollars are spent in the classroom – reducing waste and improving results for our children. As a parent whose daughter attended Wichita public schools, I know we must re-establish the control of our education system at the local level – with parents, teachers and administrators working together to provide the best solutions for our communities. Kansas is too diverse to implement a one-size-fits-all approach and the solution is to put the control back into the hands of parents and local school boards.
Budget reform: Kansas needs innovative budgeting strategies to address today’s economic challenges, without resorting to economically damaging tax increases. Priority-based budgeting has to be the model for our state’s long-term financial stability. Kansas taxpayers deserve to see where their money is going and Topeka should maintain a citizen-focused perspective.
Upholding the Tenth Amendment: The federal government is expanding and intruding on our constitutionally-guaranteed states’ rights at an alarming rate and I am passionate about fighting further efforts to erode the rights granted to the states under the Tenth Amendment.
Protecting traditional values and the sanctity of life: I believe life is precious and will defend the vulnerable with action, not just words. Every life is created for a purpose and as such, Kansas should be known not just as a state that protects life, but one that actively promotes a culture of life. The institution of marriage is under attack and we must actively work to protect and preserve it. I will fight any legislation that would change our constitutional definition of traditional marriage as between one man and one woman.
Kansas House 98th District
1. I work in order fulfillment for a bulk oil and tire distributor, have a wonderful wife, Beth, an energetic 3-year-old, Lauren, am expecting another daughter due in November, and I get a lot out of working with my local neighborhood association and city council district advisory board.
2. I currently serve on the District 3 Advisory Board for the Wichita City Council, appointed three times by councilman James Clendenin, am a regular member of the K-15 Neighborhood Association, and come from a longtime politically active family from Hutchinson, with my father being an advocate for the elderly and disabled.
3. I have such a variety of concerns which prompted me to run, but I’ve narrowed it down to sagging job market, our state’s educational budget and elimination of teacher tenure, our state’s refusal to expand Medicare to its full potential, and our state’s uneven tax codes that are hurting our middle, lower middle and lower classes. I have all sorts of policies and methods I’d like to pursue to correct these concerns but in the interest of brevity I’ll just say I’ll work with any party to correct current failed policies in our state’s government. I emphasize, work with, not bicker back and forth and take inflexible, ideological stances.
1. I have been married to Paige Crum for 18 years. We have four children: son Tracy (25), daughter Olyvia (17), son Dawsen (15), and son Daine (13). I graduated from Campus High School in 1984 and Newman University in 1999 with a B.S. in elementary education. I have lived in Haysville for more than 40 years and have taught at the elementary school I went to for the past 15 years. I have been a swim coach at CHS since 1991. I also coached volleyball at Haysville Middle School for eight years and the Haysville School District’s Special Olympics team for more than 20 years. I currently work at state Special Olympic events including volleyball, basketball, swimming, and track. In Haysville I have coached little league soccer, basketball, and volleyball. I am a member of the Friends of the Library and the Campus High Booster Club. I have been involved with the Haysville Pride and Haysville Healthy Habits. I am an active member of St. Cecilia Church in Haysville. I served on the Haysville Planning Commission from 2000 to 2001. I was elected to the Haysville City Council for Ward 3 in 2001 and served in that capacity until I moved into a different ward in 2010. I was elected in my new Ward, Ward 1, in 2012, where I still serve as council member for our citizens. During my time on council I have served on many boards and committees including: library board, recreation committee, finance committee, park board chair, tree board and served multiple terms as council president.
2. As stated previously, I have been on city council in Haysville for most of the past 14 years. I am also the chief negotiator for the Haysville Education Association. I understand how the political process works and how to negotiate amicable solutions to difficult problems. I keep up on state politics, as it has a great impact on our local school districts and how it can affect our city’s budget.
3. First would be the question of how to “adequately” fund schools. This is fundamental to the future success of Kansas. The current “fix” for education funding in Kansas is just a bandage and not a very good one at that. Representatives need to go back and look at the tax code changes made two years ago. These changes have put us in a very poor economic position, which is a detriment to our public education system.
Next would be the tax code that was recklessly passed two years ago. Kansas now finds itself in an economic downward spiral and we must stop it before it is too late. We must look at the code and find ways to take the tax burden off of the state’s poor and middle class.
I have another aspiration as well. I want to help foster the common practice in Topeka of all representatives working together to find solutions to problems. I want to negotiate in good faith with other legislators and make Kansas an example of what a strong, stable government looks like.
Finally, we must find ways to entice businesses to locate and grow in Kansas with proven methods, not experiments. If we have a strong, educated workforce, businesses will come.
U.S. House 4th District
1. I graduated first in my class from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a degree in engineering management; afterward, I served as a cavalry officer in the United States Army. I went on to Harvard Law School and worked as an attorney for several years. Then I started a business with three friends here in South Central Kansas named Thayer Aerospace. Over the 10 years I served as CEO, it grew to 400 employees. I sold my interest and moved on to serve as president of Sentry International until I ran for election to the United States House of Representatives in 2010.
My wife (Susan) and I have one son, Nick, who recently graduated college here in Kansas. Susan and I have been fifth grade Sunday school teachers at Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Wichita. I am a member of the Military Officers Association, a former member of Friends of McConnell, a former trustee of Kansas Policy Institute, and former member of the Board of Directors of YMCA of Wichita.
2. I have not been and will not be a career politician. What I value most is getting government out of the way so families, churches, and local communities can live the way they want to live. I don’t own a home in Washington, D.C. I come home to Kansas whenever I’m not voting or traveling as part of my work on the House Intelligence Committee. I’ve run two successful businesses right here in South Central Kansas and served as a cavalry officer in the Army after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. In other words, I understand what government does well and what government doesn’t do so well. When government is limited to carrying out its more constitutional functions, like protecting our borders and protecting our national security, we all benefit. When Washington tries to tell people how to live their lives or tells businesses how to run, however, things don’t work out.
I believe that solid, common sense Kansas conservative principles, backed by real world experience, are what this country needs in order to get the economy back on track. I’ve balanced budgets, hired employees, and made sales as a regular part of my work in the private sector. As your representative for the last three years, I’ve put that experience to use in scrutinizing the many wasteful spending programs that are part of Washington politics and doing oversight on the sprawling regulatory bureaucracy we’re forced to underwrite. I’ve offered pieces of legislation that range from eliminating a federal agency to defending Kansas farmers to unleashing America’s energy resources – all things that would make Kansans’ life better without costing a single taxpayer dollar.
3. Repealing Obamacare is my top priority. We can’t afford to ignore this issue—Obamacare means disaster for our rural medical centers. It means Kansans are losing the doctors and health care plans they have and like, and it means they are being forced to pay more for their care. It’s even led employers to cut part-time hours and has violated many Americans’ deeply held religious beliefs, a clear violation of our First Amendment rights. I’ve voted 57 times against Obamacare and even took Obamacare architects Sen. Max Baucus and HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius to task for this disaster. We need to return to a system that reflects the values of patients and health care providers, not the government.
Cutting and reforming regulations is my next priority. My bill, the Small Airplane Revitalization Act, was passed unanimously by Congress and signed into law by the President. This law modernizes and reforms outdated regulations that have held back the aviation manufacturing industry for years – it took a lot of work, but it’s finally done. But that’s not the only place we need regulatory reform and relief: the EPA has repeatedly tried to expand its authority unconstitutionally, by regulating our ponds or shutting down affordable coal electricity plants. I’ve fought for Kansans in hearings against unelected bureaucrats who want to tell you how to live your lives. These bureaucrats think nothing of making your life more difficult and hiking your bills so “America can lead the world in climate change policy,” even though no one seems to have any scientific evidence of how these policies can impact climate change.
Finally, my overarching goal is to shrink the size and scope of the federal government and cut spending. Washington’s spending binge has made America less able to defend itself against foreign attack, while at the same time opening the door to massive new entitlements like Obamacare that just don’t work. While some seem to think that spending is the most important function of government, my belief is that spending has instead supplanted all functions of government – including national security.
1. I am married to Vicki and we have been blessed with three children. We have lived in Goddard for 33 years. Vicki and I are actively involved in our church, The Assembly at Goddard, and have been involved in a number of other philanthropic organizations over the years such as Kansans for Life, House of Hope, Susan B Anthony Fund, Catholic Charities, American Collegiate Society for Adapted Athletics, and the Nathan Winter Fund. I began my political career as a volunteer for pro-life organizations in Sedgwick County and it was because of that work that I became active in politics.
2. In the past, I served in the Kansas Senate (1992-1994) and ran for Congress in 1994. I defeated Congressman Dan Glickman and served the 4th District for 16 years until 2011. Over those years, I listened to the voters of the 4th District and responded to the needs and issues in our communities. Jobs are the number one issue and I have a proven track record for securing and creating jobs here in the 4th District. I believe the federal government needs to get out of the way and let our economy thrive and advance so that we can overcome the challenges of our current economy.
3. Economy – the federal government needs to balance the budget – we did it from 1998 to 2001 – and we can do it again. This would be the most important thing Congress could do to begin the work of shoring up our economy.
Jobs – Right now the 4th District has lost half of its major aircraft manufacturers and more than 5,000 jobs have left the district in the last four years. There are a number of things that we can do to help the aircraft industry such as permanent accelerated depreciation. I successfully worked to enact this on a temporary basis after 9/11. Aircraft sales began to take off at that time and it helped our economy locally. We need do it again and make a permanent to encourage the purchase of more aircraft.
Regulation – The federal government is growing faster than our economy and the root of government growth is extensive regulation of business and industry. It is estimated that the government will write more than 80,000 pages of new regulations this year alone. I believe that we need to stop the regulation until the economy is back on track and then we must subject all new regulation to an analysis to determine whether it is helpful or not. Regulations that cost more than the benefit they provide should be eliminated.
United States Senate
1. I have been serving as District Attorney for Shawnee County for six years, having been reelected in 2012 unopposed. Prior to that I practiced for ten years in a private law office in Topeka. I live on my family farm outside Topeka with my wife, Karily.
I am a member of the 25th anniversary class of Leadership Greater Topeka, a member of Leadership Kansas 2010, serve on the board of directors for the Jayhawk Area Council Boy Scouts of America, as well as Housing and Credit Counseling Incorporated. I am an active member of the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) and have represented the NDAA nationally as a guest speaker at numerous conferences.
2. As the district attorney, I have worked tirelessly for the people of Shawnee County by prosecuting violent offenders, drug dealers, and white collar criminals. But more than that, I have developed a responsive and efficient district attorney’s office. Under my leadership, my office has cleared and closed more than a dozen cold case files and reduced a backlog of 4,448 cases to fewer than a hundred.
I believe in pragmatic problem solving for the benefit of the people of Kansas – a skill that is missing in the partisan environment Pat Roberts has come to represent. I will serve Kansas in the U.S. Senate to bring back the practical and commonsense leadership we Kansans deserve and the country needs.
3. Job Growth. Investing in research and development tax credits, we allow businesses and universities to innovate and prosper. The jobs they create are jobs that cannot easily be exported and create a foundation of commerce in our state. A prime example is the burgeoning biosciences corridor in Kansas, which stretches from Manhattan to Kansas City and has attracted Fortune 500 companies as well as start-ups and incubators.
Fiscal Responsibility. The debt is absolutely a problem and needs to be dealt with through common sense solutions. For instance, we should return to PAYGO, or “pay-as-you-go,” budgeting rules that brought us a $236 billion surplus in the last year President Bill Clinton was in office. It provides a transparent means of prioritizing our budget by showing where every dollar of spending would come from – reallocation from other programs, tax increases, or program cuts. Bringing accountability back to the process is the only way we will put our financial house in order.
1. I am a life-long Kansan and live in Lawrence. I grew up in Ellis, attended Colby Community College, and received my degree in accounting from Fort Hays, and law degree from KU. I am a tax attorney and CPA. I own the Overland Park law firm of Wiesner & Frackowiak. I am an Army reserve veteran with 21 years of service. I have two grown children. My son, Frank, graduated with a computer science degree from Wichita State University; he works in Washington state as a computer programmer in the aircraft industry. My daughter, Stephanie, graduated with a finance degree from Clemson University; she works for a Kansas City area medical products company as a business development specialist.
2. I am the “get out of debt” candidate. My Senate work will be guided by the principle that we don’t rely on borrowed money to pay for today’s government spending. The Washington incumbents, both Democrats and Republicans, talk of fiscal responsibility but, instead, pile on more spending. My mission is executing programs that take care of our national security, retirees, and school children and to raise enough revenue to cover our bills and pay off our national debt.
I have experience not offered by any other candidate. For almost 30 years, I have counseled workers and businesses in solving tax problems. This problem solving involved US Tax Court practice, calculating payment plans, and negotiating settlements with the government. I advise clients on tax planning and return preparation. I am the right guy to write the new tax code.
As an Army Reserve attorney, I have served on three one year-long deployments; twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. On my 2013 deployment, I was Chief of Contract and Fiscal Law, United States Forces-Afghanistan. This involved leading the team of military attorneys to give legal opinions to the United States’ Commanders’ requests to spend appropriated funds on operations, communications, security, and construction. This work gives me unique first-hand knowledge of federal budget and appropriations laws. I intend to use my experience to show the Senate how to cut spending and pay off debt.
3. Budgets. My mission is to get our country out of debt. The United States has enough economic power and agricultural wealth to be generous to its citizens and, at the same time, pay for the cost of government. National defense, Social Security, and a safety net for the poor are priorities. Other programs will be limited or cut so that we have enough revenue left to pay off our debt.
Taxes. Two immediate problems come to mind. First, in my tax practice, I found the IRS does not have enough resources to accomplish its revenue collection mission. They need more people. Also, contrary to recent public discussion, the IRS has a culture of integrity and is committed to excellence in customer service. Second, a new simpler code is needed. The current version is complicated and hard to comply with. As Senator, I will write the new code.
Lobbyists. I want to end the practice that allows a lobbyist to draft pet-project language for a Senator or House member to insert into legislation in exchange for arranged campaign contributions. Many times the legislation is not even read before they vote. My policy is before a Senator can vote on legislation, he or she must read the entire bill, acknowledge understanding the proposed law, and guarantee that no lobbyist has arranged a campaign contribution to get their vote. If the Senator can’t say yes to all three, they are disqualified from voting. Lobbyists should never be allowed to draft laws or provide the talking points for a hearing.
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Alvin E. Zahnter
Did not respond.
1. Fourth generation Kansan. Husband Robert and I are parents of four grown children. B.S. in Education and am a former District Manager of Sylvan Learning Centers. Licensed, independent insurance agent in multiple lines for over a decade. Founder/owner of HSA Benefits Consulting.
Member of Nexus Church in Olathe. Past President, Legislative and Professional Development Chair of Greater Kansas City Association of Health Underwriters. Advisory Board member of Doctors/Patients Medical Association. Research Fellow on Health Care for Show Me Institute. Invited to the White House to serve on President Bush’s HSA council.
2. The Insurance Commissioner is a manager over 120 employees, an educator, a consumer advocate, a regulator of insurance carriers and agents, and a consultant who gives testimony and seminars on state government insurance legislation and federal bills through the NAIC.
My qualifications for this position include:
Former manager over 300 employees. Many years as an educator. Licensed insurance agent in multiple lines for over a decade experienced in advocating and assisting clients with insurance needs in nearly half the states. Comfortable meeting with carriers, agents, the public and elected officials.
Given testimony, crafted legislation and conducted seminars in multiple states and on Capitol Hill in D.C. Currently consulting state and federal legislators on the effects of health care and insurance legislation.
Attended the Tornado Summit 2014 and met with other Insurance Commissioners to discuss concerns.Serving on a committee to create the replacement bill for PPACA/Obamacare.
3. The top issues and solutions are:
Health Insurance: High premium rates, fewer plan choices, skinny provider networks, reduced pharmacy formularies, and discontinued policies. Push back against the federal health law and educate federal legislators as to how this law is adversely affecting Kansans
Work to repeal Obamacare and replace it with legislation that returns all regulation of private insurance back to the state. Work to equalize the tax deduction for private plans as is enjoyed by group plans. Invite carriers who have left the state back to Kansas by reviewing the current barriers that prevent competition.
Review our cumbersome regulatory process that discourages carriers from offering products to Kansans that are readily available in other states.
Develop a reciprocity agreement with neighboring states and coordinate efforts to approve products and make them available to the public in a more expeditious and less costly manner. High increases in homeowners and auto insurance premiums. Encourage other carriers to come into the state. Meet with all stakeholders to review the issue
Customer Service. Improve search engine to make it easier for the consumers, agents and carriers to find helpful resources. Ensure that those departments are staffed with experts so we reduce wait time and deliver better satisfaction.
David J. Powell
1. Son of Air Force Officer, born in Florida and lived in many states as well as 3 years in Germany. Child of United States – been in all states and territories. Married to Lois for 47 years – 3 grown children & 6 grandchildren. College graduate with degree in Mathematics – taught High School math & coached many sports for 10 years.
Went into the insurance business 37 years ago and Own and manage my Insurance agency David J Powell & Associates LLC. Work with individuals, families, businesses and insurance agents all over Kansas and many other states. Have been licensed in all major lines as an independent insurance agent with multiple companies as an agent and agency contracts. Earned multiple insurance college degrees: Chartered Life Underwriter, Chartered Financial Consultant, Certified Financial Planner and Registered Health Underwriter (CLU, ChFC, CFP, RHU).
Red Cross Volunteer for 35+ years. Past Chapter Chairman of Bluestem Chapter (Butler County). Past Disaster Chairman – Bluestem Chapter. – Was disaster Chairman during the Andover Tornado and the Butler County Floods.
Member of El Dorado Chamber of Commerce.
Past Exalted Ruler of El Dorado Elks Club.
Member of Kansas Association of Independent Agents (KAIA) (10 years).
Member of National Association Health Underwriters (NAHU) (25 years).
Member of National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) (36 years).
2. I care. I bring more experience, knowledge and passion to the office than any other candidate. I have 37 years experience as a licensed independent agent in all major lines of insurance; four advanced college degrees in insurance noted above.
I have worked with thousands of individuals, families and business owners helping them understand and find solutions for their insurance needs and concerns. Experience working with more than 700 agents in Kansas and other states to provide products and services for their clients. I have also worked with many insurance companies to help them design new products & services for Kansas consumers, many of which are now being sold in Kansas and other states. Trained agents on various insurance products and services. Conducted numerous seminars for consumer education. I have run large businesses so I am prepared for the size and scope of the position. I have read PPACA and the rules & regulations issued since. I have written a book, published on Amazon on the law.
3. Improve product turnaround time, of products and services to be made available to Kansas consumers, from filing with the DOI to when they are marketed to consumers. I will see that the department works with companies to make this happen within 60-90 day time frame. Increase insurance plan and the number of companies offering plans in Kansas. Already working with a number of companies to do just that. Encourage insurance companies to move their domicile to Kansas. Again already working on this. Will also need to address some modification to current regulation with Kansas Legislators to make Kansas more attractive for domicile.
Improve Kansas Regulations to help attract new employers to Kansas with the goal of growing our economy. Mitigate the impact of Obamacare upon Kansas individuals as well as employers. I will use the law against itself until there is enough of a change in the administration in Washington to repeal and replace it. I don’t see the change happening for at least 2 years, so I will use our state sovereignty under the 10th amendment also with the “glitches and loopholes” in the law to delay further impact as long as possible. Consumer outreach. I feel the department needs to return to satellite office presence to better serve Kansas Consumers with face to face help.
1. I am a CPA with 32 years of directly relevant business experience which I will bring to the Commissioners job. I have an accounting degree (with honors) from Kansas State University and an MBA from USC.
I also hold a number of important insurance related designations including CPCU (Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter), ARe (Associate in Reinsurance), and FLMI (Fellow of the Life Management Institute).
I grew up in rural central Kansas near Goessel, where many members of my extended family continue to live. My wife Deb and I currently live in Leawood, and have been married for 33 years. We have two daughters Mallory and Mackenzie. Deb and I also owned a successful small business for 12 years. In addition to my work as an Executive Managing Director at Aon Benfield, my wife and I own and operate a farm together near Louisburg, Kan.
2. As a CPA with 32 years of business experience, we will focus on bringing good business practices to this important state department; a department that affects every Kansan. We will always look for ways to make the department more productive, more innovative, more responsive, and more efficient. This office is an administrative and a regulatory function. It is not a legislative job. Accordingly, the Commissioner is charged with educating and advocating for Kansans, with regulating the insurance companies that operate in Kansas, and with licensing insurance agents. My CPA and insurance designations, and my work experience as both a small business owner and as a reinsurance broker with an insurance services firm provide the experience and qualifications to do a superb job of serving consumers and other constituents of the Kansas Insurance Department.
3. The top issues are affordability and availability of insurance. This is especially for Homeowners insurance and Health insurance. We will work hard to bring more competition to the insurance marketplace in Kansas to benefit all consumers. This will be done developing a fair, balanced and predictable regulatory environment that both protects consumers and encourages companies to compete for business in Kansas.
I am a graduate of Wichita State University and also earned a MBA from Baker University. My wife, Lori, and I have six children and live in Lindsborg, Kansas.
I am currently president of a title insurance company in Wichita. I have also worked to protect consumers across Kansas as a compliance auditor for a national title insurance underwriter.
I served as Chair of the House Insurance Committee for nine years and have been active in both the National Conference of Insurance Legislators and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). I served as a key supporter of many pro-consumer pieces of legislation including the Health Care Freedom Act and a bill ensuring families of fallen police officers and firefighters will continue to have health insurance coverage. I also served as Chairman of the House rules committee. Throughout my 17 years in the legislature, I earned a 100 percent pro-life voting record.
I have also been a school board member, Kiwanis member, Mental Health Advisory Board Member, Community Foundation board member, Sunday School teacher, and I served on our local festival board.
2. I bring a mix of key experiences and qualifications to this office. I have critical insurance industry experience, a proven and public legislative record, and demonstrated insurance regulatory leadership on the state level. As a licensed insurance agent, I’ve worked daily with Kansans in need of the protections that good, quality insurance provides. I understand, first hand, the struggles of both families and business owners. As a small business owner and a father, insurance is a significant percentage of both my business’ budget and my family’s budget.
My service as a Kansas Representative and Senator – and especially as Insurance Committee Chairman – brought an in-depth understanding of current insurance regulations and statutes. I continue to enjoy close relationships with legislators and am prepared to work alongside the Kansas legislature – whether it be to revise existing insurance law or craft and propose entirely new legislation – in order to put Kansas first and give Kansans as much control as the law allows.
All the above has given me the valuable skills and experiences required for service as your next Kansas Commissioner of Insurance, especially at this critical transition time.
3. There are a number of issues that will be my focus as Kansas Insurance Commissioner. We must ensure the Kansas insurance market is affordable and competitive, we must fight the fraud that raises our premiums and we must arm Kansas consumers with the information they want to be able to purchase the insurance they need.
First, the most important role of the Kansas Insurance Commissioner is to regulate the industry. The Commissioner must ensure that when a Kansas consumer files a claim the insurance company who wrote their coverage and collected their premiums can live up to their promise to pay. As Commissioner it will be my priority to ensure that the insurance companies doing business in Kansas are healthy so that, as a result, our insurance marketplace is competitive and our premiums are affordable.
In addition, the Kansas Department of Insurance investigates nearly a thousand insurance fraud cases a year. Insurance fraud impacts all of us by adding unnecessary costs to our premiums. As Commissioner I will ensure the Anti-Fraud Division has all the resources necessary to respond quickly and aggressively to uncover, investigate and submit for prosecution insurance fraud in Kansas. Because reducing fraud reduces premiums.
Thirdly, providing Kansans with the information they need to make good insurance decisions is a key responsibility of the Department. I am committed to ensuring that the Department is an educational resource to help Kansans make good decisions about their insurance needs. I will introduce a new consumer education program through the Insurance Department to launch in the summer of 2015. This series of seminars will educate and inform Kansans about their insurance needs, and the programs and options available to them.
And because treating Kansas consumers with respect will be our highest value, I promise that whenever you call the Insurance Department for help there will always be a human — not a recording — who answers the phone.
John M. Toplikar
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Secretary of State
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Scott M organ
Did not respond.