Candidate questionnaire: Shelee Brim, 39th District Kansas House of Representatives
The following are the responses to the Dispatch's candidate questionnaire from Shelee Brim, who is running as a Republican for the 39th District seat in the Kansas House of Representatives, which covers western Shawnee. She faces Owen Donohoe and incumbent Charles Macheers in the Aug. 2 primary.
Education: BS Elementary Education from Kansas State University, MA from Mid America Nazarene University
Occupation: Retired Teacher (USD 232), Realtor (Keller Williams Legacy Partners, Shawnee)
Family: Husband - Mitch Brim (He works for the City of Shawnee); Daughter - Kourtney Martin - She is married to Stephen Martin and they have two children, Mitchell and Julia. She is a police officer in North Carolina; Son - Colby Brim, a commercial diver and construction worker.
Years lived in district: 19 years
Previous political experience: None….yet!
Other community service: Westside Family Church - Children’s Worship Leader, Vacation Bible School, South African Mission Trip; Volunteer coaching
Campaign website: www.sheleebrim.com
What made you decide to run for office?
Many members of my community approached me at the end of the school year about running for House District 39. They shared their dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs in Topeka, concerns about our educational system, and a lack of communication from the current representative. I have never been one to turn down a challenge, so I filed on the first of June which was the deadline for filing. My running joke is I retired from 32 years of teaching, but was only retired about 12 hours before I filed for office. Having recently retired, I have the time to dedicate to the people of western Shawnee. It is important for a representative to be willing to meet with and listen to the people. I have been advocating for the children and families for many years and plan to continue this in my role as the District 39 representative.
What special qualifications would you bring to this office?
I have lived a life of service to the communities where I have lived. As a representative, I will serve the people of District 39. As a teacher, one of my strengths has always been building relationships, listening skills, and communication skills. Some may see my lack of political experience as a negative, but I see this as a positive. Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I want each and every one of my constituents to feel important and valued. Right now, our country, state, city, and district need to come together to work to build a better tomorrow. Success comes from working together.
How do you plan to stay in touch with constituents if you are elected?
Since the first of June, I have visited with the USD #232 superintendent, the USD #232 School Board president, several school board members, the mayor of Shawnee, several Shawnee City Council members, the Shawnee City Manager, the Shawnee Assistant City Manager, and the Shawnee Chief of Police. Building a strong foundation for two-way communication is paramount. In addition, I have held morning coffee Meet and Greets to listen to the needs of the community. When elected, I plan to use a variety of communication techniques ranging from my website, Facebook page, mailers, and most importantly attending events and being available to meet with people. Informing people is important because it disseminates information. However, real communication is reciprocal and is one of the best way to build and strengthen relationships.
As you have been campaigning, what issue have you found is most important for constituents in your district? How would you address this issue?
Education! Having taught in Shawnee for the past 17 years, I know how important education at all levels is to our community. If we want our students to compete in the 21st century, they need to be provided with the highest quality education from the highest quality teachers. As a classroom teacher, I have experienced how recent budget cuts are changing education. This past year, my personal classroom budget was $150. This money was used to buy basic classroom supplies and is usually spent before the students walk through the doors in August in preparation for the new school year. After that, teachers spend their own money, search for grants, or go without. The results of low salaries, cost of continuing education, and eroding tenure protections are causing teachers to retire, leave the profession for higher paying private sector jobs, or leaving the state. This needs to change!
In your own opinion, aside from or in addition to the above issue, what are the three most important issues facing the state and how would you address them?
We use roads to go to work and school, visit family, take vacations, and for commerce. Under the current Brownback administration, $2.4 billion was transferred from the T-Works highway program to address revenue shortfalls which has delayed the start of 25 highway projects. It is imperative that we stop raiding the transportation funds every time there is a shortfall. By doing this, we are creating a long-term problem. Currently, our roads require constant maintenance so that they do not deteriorate quickly. We have huge bridge and rail line issues over the horizon due to the lack of maintenance. Our state needs to allocate the funds to transportation and make them dedicated funds, NOT movable.
The 2012 tax plan that Governor Sam Brownback implemented has created a mess for our state. The plan collapsed the state’s three bracket tax system down to two brackets. The plan also wiped out tax credits including food sales tax rebates and credits for taxpayers who have to work and must care for children, disabled dependents, or spouses. The most concerning part of the bill exempts non-wage business income for LLCs and sole proprietorships. Police officers, firefighters, and teachers pay taxes. It baffles me as to why our current government has created tax breaks for some. We have a misguided governor and many legislators who benefit from these tax breaks. While campaigning, I heard from several business owners who think the plan is unfair and they think they need to pay taxes also. These extra dollars should be going toward, education, infrastructure, and other quality programs that continue to be cut. Revenues are declining while taxes are at a record high. The people I want to represent are hurting and I want to change this by restoring balance and equity.
Public safety is a priority!