Although three local candidates with Kansas University ties are running for seats in the Kansas Legislature, only one had to quit her job to enter the race.
Neva Entrikin, who had been office supervisor of the Spencer Museum of Art, resigned from her job Tuesday when she filed for the 46th District House seat. State law required her to resign from her job when she filed to run for the office.
But Barbara Ballard, acting dean of student life, a KU administrative position, did not have to quit her job to run for office. If elected, she may take a leave of absence from the job while the Legislature is in session.
AND FORREST Swall, assistant professor of social welfare at KU, also did not have to quit his job when he filed for office. As a tenured professor, he also can take a leave of absence if elected, and return to his job when the Legislature is out of session.
"That's what I think is grossly unfair," Entrikin said. "Some people can run for office on the state payroll and some can't."
Entrikin said she not only is losing her salary, but health insurance and other benefits. "There's a gross inequity there," she said.
The difference is a result of state laws governing university employees who have "classified" status and a Kansas Board of Regents policy governing those with "unclassified" status.
Classified employees are generally those who work in state civil service positions in maintenance, clerical and some low-level administrative jobs, said Bill McGlasson, assistant director in the state's division of personnel services.
Classified employees may include librarians, secretaries, groundskeepers and housing workers, he said.
Unclassified employees include higher-level administrators and university faculty.
State law says classified state employees must resign upon filing to run for most state offices, said Judith Siminoe, associate general counsel for the regents. The state law has been on the books since 1941, she said.
"I think one of the reasons is the potential for a conflict of interest," she said. In addition, she said public confidence is eroded when someone on the state payroll is making public policy.
BUT UNDER the regents policy, leave without pay will be granted to unclassified state employees elected or appointed to public office requiring full-time or sustained periods away from assigned duties, such as the state Legislature. The regents policy also states that unclassfied employees must carry out their full employment responsibilities during campaigns or they will not be paid.
Regents General Counsel Ted Ayres said he did not believe the regents needed to change their policies to force unclassified employees to resign if they run for office.
"I don't feel they need to do that at this time," he said. "That doesn't mean that they wouldn't look at it."
AYRES SAID the regents should not consider equal provisions for all employees who run for office because of significant differences in classified and unclassified positions, including wages and retirement benefits. He also said forcing unclassified employees to resign only would discourage some qualified people from running for office.
"That's exactly the point," Entrikin said. "The administration and faculty can afford to run but the rank-and-file workers can't . . . and that isn't fair."
KU General Counsel Victoria Thomas said that in order for all university employees to run for office under the same employment provisions, the Legislature would have to change the law for classified employees, or the regents would have to change policies for unclassified employees.
ENTRIKIN SAID she would like to see either a change in regents policy or in state law.
"I can't change the regents policy, but when I get elected, one of the first things I will do is try to change that law," she said.
Entrikin, a Republican, is seeking the eastern Lawrence seat currently held by Democrat Betty Jo Charlton.
Ballard, also a Lawrence school board member, said it's too early to speculate on whether she would remain on the school board if elected to the Kansas House.
"I haven't really thought about it," she said. "If I should win, I'll consult with the school board members" and reach a decision, Ballard said.
She said there are no rules prohibiting her from serving on both the local school board and in the Legislature, but added that serving in both capacities could be difficult.
BALLARD IS seeking Lawrence's western 44th District House seat on the Democratic ticket.
Ballard said that if elected she would take a leave without pay from her KU position during the legislative session.
Swall is seeking the 45th District House seat being vacated by John Solbach. Swall, a Democrat, could not be reached for comment Friday or this morning.