Archive for Sunday, May 18, 2003

Two freshmen bring years of experience

May 18, 2003

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— At least two freshman legislators in Kansas, who also happen to be senior citizens, said they gave little thought to their ages when they entered the House.

In fact, both of them -- state Reps. Barbara Craft, R-Junction City, and Dr. Roger Reitz, R-Manhattan -- joined a mostly young, bipartisan group of freshmen that pushed for a tax increase during the just-completed legislative session.

The proposal failed, but Craft, 60, and Reitz, 70, said it was worth the effort.

Craft said her years of raising a family and being a businesswoman helped her in the Legislature.

"I think it did help me to have all those life experiences," she said.

Craft also had served for 16 years on the local school board.

"I have always been interested in governance and policy-making," she said. "I have a lot of strong feelings for my hometown. Like so many communities, we are struggling."

Reitz, an internal medicine specialist for the past 37 years, also had a background in local politics, having served on the Manhattan City Commission for more than five years.

He said the conservative bent of the commission was proving distasteful for him, so when former House Speaker Kent Glasscock sought higher office, he ran for that seat.

"The Legislature was a lot different than what I expected. The rules are different, but I was pleased with the younger people that I found there and I identified with them," Reitz said. "We came together with a plan that was viable and that kind of charged me up."

Reitz said he often thought of how his life had changed now that he was in the Legislature.

"As a physician, I've been dealing with people in a very intimate way. As a legislator, I'm dealing with them in a more general way," he said. "I like looking at it from both ways. It's a completely different scene."

Both Craft and Reitz said they were committed to public service.

"I would be willing to commit to three terms, six years. I think it takes two years to really learn the ropes," Craft said.

Reitz said he was ready to run for re-election.

"I feel good, my wife is in good health. Until my health fails, I think I'll keep doing this thing."

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