STORY BY ISAK SMITH
PHOTOS BY KATI RIVERA
Candidate Ed Hammond’s Campaign for Kansas’s 111th district visited a local goat grazing event to raise awareness for both the campaign and sustainable agricultural practices.
The event took place at the Jennings/Bird Farm at 1395 Rome Rd.
John Bird, the owner of the property, described the idea of helping host the campaign event for. Hammond.
“When he decided to run, I thought he would be a natural fit for Hays. He’s the perfect guy at the right time because he’s not trying to climb a political ladder and he’s got a proven ability to negotiate…” Bird said.
Hammond spoke clearly about his plans if elected.
The first item on the agenda would be to expand Medicaid without the threat of a governor vetoing the bill as has happened in the past.
“That is worth about t$17.5 million to our community. On top of that, we would qualify for 343 funding. Which is a federal program that gives us access to prescription drugs at a lower rate–about forty percent lower than it is,“ he said.
Hammond went on to explain how the county is ineligible for funding at the moment and needs to change the criteria for Medicaid.
The next priority he outlined was to increase school funding for special education.
“We need to do what we can for these students. It’s a shame that it happened, but we had to transfer out $1.5 million –that’s the equivalent of 22 teaching positions,” Hammond said. “I think we should just listen to the Supreme Court, fund schools how they should be and let the community live and prosper”
He continued, “In addition to that, people think special ed funding is for kids that have trouble learning, but it’s the other end of the spectrum too, the bright kids that are in advanced programs are also special ed.”
Lastly, Hammond hopes to secure more funding for Fort Hays. He made clear how despite WSU and FHSU maintaining similar enrollment numbers, the two schools received $83 million and only $31 million respectively.
“That inequity makes no sense to me, and I know why it happened, and it has to do with the formula base that they’ve used. I think that needs to be changed to fairly fund Fort Hays,” Hammond said.
The formula base that they’re using is 2001 enrollments when FHSU enrolled about 6,000 students. As Fort Hays grew, it never got any additional funding for its growth.
Hammond made the analogy between securing the funding he described and a company moving to town: “if you add all that together it’s at least $100 million for the community for a four-year period. It’s like having a big manufacturing facility come in. Its tremendous economic benefit.”
When asked about how the campaign was going Hammond replied that it was going well.
“It’s been a little warm. We’re knocking on all the doors in the district and it’s about 6,000 doors, and we’re about halfway done.”
The crew generally works from 5-8 p.m.knocking on doors.
“We’re not just out handing out stuff, we want to talk to them. I really want to know what they think, and they want to know what I stand for, and we can have those discussions and it works out pretty well,” he said.
Hammond’s campaign is optimistic about the 2022 elections.
The goats were provided by Mary Powell, a Hays local who operates the Barnyard Weed Warriors goat rental service to manage weeds on acres of land.