The question I am asked most often is “why are you running for governor?”
The short answer is because I love Kansas and want to make it work as well as we all know it can. But there is a longer answer and it really is all about my background.
I grew up on a small farm in Reading, Kansas with an older brother and incredibly hard-working parents. Like so many others, I was a typical Kansas kid, going to a small school where I knew everyone (and occasionally getting into some mild form of trouble), working on the farm with my dad, and hunting or fishing every chance I could with my brother. My favorite teacher was Mrs. Doris Phillips, because she expected so much from all her students.
My dad was on the school board for a number of years because our education was so important to him. My mom, now age 94, kept everything running. Both parents taught me life lessons that I still practice — from my dad, the value of hard work and the importance of education; and from my mom, always keep a positive attitude and a good sense of humor.
Farming was my first love and I would likely be a farmer today were it not for asthma that I suffered from as a child. The simple reality was that while I loved farming, it did not love me. Watching my brother live with diabetes made me think about medicine as a career. I attended Emporia State University and majored in chemistry, then went to the KU School of Medicine to pursue my dream.
Along the way, life threw in it’s challenges. My 22 year old brother, who was my best friend, was in a car/train accident that left him with extensive physical and brain damage. My mom spent months in the hospital with him and then both of my parents cared for him at home. His accident changed the focus of my medical studies to internal medicine, and I joined a medical practice in Emporia, near home. My brother died of a heart attack at age 36, one of the most difficult losses in my life. Like all of us, those difficult experiences shape our lives and our priorities. My parents’ care for my brother was an example of the love and challenges involved in health care for family members with illness and disabilities, experiences shared by many as we care for our loved ones.
When my children, Blake and Chelsea, were in the public school system in Emporia, the superintendent of schools asked me to help pass a bond issue that had failed several times. I worked on that and it passed. Then I was asked to run for the school board, which I did, and served on the board for 8 years, 4 as president. I have a deep appreciation for teachers and a passion for education for all of our citizens.
The school board experience opened my eyes to the importance of public service and the difference each citizen can make in their community. And I realized that I could have an impact at the state level for policy and implementation. As a lifelong Republican, I ran for and won a senate seat and served there for 10 years. Many tried to pigeon-hole me as a conservative or a moderate, but the labels did not fit me any better then than they do now. I evaluate each issue on its merits and make decisions that I feel would best serve Kansans. I have worked with all parts of the Republican Party and across the aisle to achieve results — and we accomplished good things for the state.
One piece of legislation of which I am most proud was the establishment of the Kansas Health Policy Authority. It passed unanimously, and it was landmark legislation to provide health services for our communities. Unfortunately, the current administration eliminated the funding for this program and instead established KanCare, a deeply flawed system for health services that does not provide our citizens what they need in the most effective way.
For the past 35 years I have practiced medicine, the first 28 years in Emporia and now in Topeka at the Cotton-O’Neil clinic, which is part of the Stormont-Vail health system. In addition, I serve on the Board of Trustees of the Kansas Medical Society. Blake and Chelsea -my two, now adult, children – continue to make me exceptionally proud. I live in Topeka with my best friend and wife Rosie.
All of my life experiences have led me to seek the office of Governor of Kansas. I want to bring back Kansas values to the office of Governor, to make sure that Kansas will remain a state where people want to live, work and raise their families.
Business owners around the state have talked with me at length about what they need to help our economy grow. Educators have spoken with me about the challenges in preparing students for a rapidly changing society. Young professionals have shared their concerns about the need for good jobs and a good education for their children.
With the right leadership, our state can do all of this, and more. This is especially true if we act together, in the best interest of all concerned.
I have experience in agriculture, education and health care. I served in the Emporia Chamber of Commerce and the Kansas legislature. My core values were instilled in me by my parents. These values have guided my life and will guide me as governor. I will listen. And I will always remember that my job is to serve you with my best judgment for the common good, working with all people around the state to achieve results.
The theme of my campaign sums it up for me: #OneKansas.
Rosie grew up on a small farm near Americus, Kansas. She earned a BA in Biology from the University of Kansas in 1976, a law degree from the University of Minnesota in 1982, a Master’s in Public Administration from Harvard University in 1993, and was a National Security Affairs Fellow at Stanford University in 1998. From 1985 to 2011, Rosie served as a foreign service officer with the Department of State with U.S. Embassy assignments in Bangladesh, Germany, Bosnia, Australia, Afghanistan, and Thailand, an assignment in the Consulate in Ecuador, and various posts in Washington D.C.
As Director of the New Post Support Unit in Germany, Rosie provided management consulting to new embassies created after the breakup of the Soviet Union. As the war was ending, Rosie developed a fully functioning U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo, Bosnia, where she oversaw all management operations as the American staff grew from 10 to 100 and the local staff grew from 20 to 200 during a one-year period. She also helped set up the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait just after the Gulf War. She served as Management Counselor in Kabul, Afghanistan, where she achieved rank of Minister Counselor with lead oversight of embassy management operations in Thailand, Australia, Bosnia, and Afghanistan. Rosie looks forward to serving as Lieutenant Governor alongside her husband Jim.
- Grew up on a small farm near Americus, Kansas, graduate of Americus High School 1972.
- Graduate of the University of Kansas, BA in Biology 1976.
- Law degree, University of Minnesota 1982.
- Master’s in Public Administration, Kennedy School, Harvard University 1993.
- National Security Affairs Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University 1998.
- Foreign Service Officer, Dept. of State 1985-2011 with overseas assignments in Ecuador (Consulate), and U.S. Embassy assignments in Bangladesh, Germany, Bosnia, Australia, Afghanistan and Thailand. Various assignments in Washington, D.C
- Traveled to Kuwait just after Gulf War ended to help set up U.S. Embassy
- Served as the Director of the New Post Support Unit in Germany, providing management consulting to new embassies created after the breakup of the Soviet Union.
- Developed a fully functioning U.S. embassy in Sarajevo, Bosnia, just as the war ended. Oversaw all management operations as the Embassy grew from 10 Americans to 100, and local staff grew from about 20 to 200 during a one-year period.
- Served as Management Counselor in Kabul, Afghanistan
- Achieved rank of Minister Counselor with lead oversight of Embassy management operations in Thailand, Australia, Bosnia and Afghanistan.
Paid for by Barnett for Governor, Ronald Ramberg, Treasurer