TOPEKA, Kan.—Longtime rural reporter and farm advocate Larry Dreiling of Hays filed papers May 21 with the Kansas Secretary of State to officially place his name on the ballot for Kansas Senate in the 40th District. The “Big 4-0” includes 14 counties in northwest Kansas comprising over 13,000 square miles and is the state’s largest senate district.
Rural Kansas has faced years of declining population and falling farm and ranch commodity prices. School district consolidation and hospital, post office, and business closures have added to the pressures many rural Kansas families face.
The COVID-19 virus, while only affecting about half the counties of the district as of the filing date, remains a threat, particularly for the future of the district’s critical access hospitals.
“I’m running for the farmers of the biggest district in the state who truly care about leaving a legacy for their children and grandchildren,” Dreiling said. “As the son of a 99-year old WaKeeney raised World War II veteran, I want to make sure proper physical and mental health care is available to all rural Kansans, particularly in these unsettled times. Medicaid expansion is at the top of my legislative checklist, since it’s something my opponent has done nothing but given lip service toward while our endangered critical access hospitals could use that important funding.
“I’m running for the kids in rural K-12 public schools who are ignored by our mostly urban Legislature. I’m running to get our roads funded so they’ll be fixed, and to ensure appropriate support for Fort Hays State and for our local community and technical colleges.
“Also, I’m running to mend our prison system so the violence we saw at the Norton Correctional Facility in 2017 never happens again,” he said.
Dreiling is launching his campaign after a 42-year career in journalism, including stints as a senior field editor at High Plains Journal and news director at KAYS-AM/TV. His reporting has been honored with numerous state, national, and international awards.
“My work as a rural journalist has taken me to every community in the western half of our state,” Dreiling said. “Over the past 42 years, I have learned much about who the people in our rural communities are and heard their voices say what they need and want from state government,” Dreiling said.
“What they don’t want is governance distilled in a three-phrase, six-word slogan. Governance is hard work, and I’m prepared over the next four years to do the hard work needed in service of the people I’ve come to love to make their lives better.”
Dreiling is a triple graduate of Fort Hays State University, with a masters’ degree in communication and bachelors’ degrees in political science and communication. He currently lives in Hays, Kan., is an adjunct professor of agriculture, informatics and political science at FHSU, and serves as a policy fellow at FHSU’s Docking Institute of Public Affairs.