Topeka The certainty Republican Joan Heffington brings to her campaign for governor is encapsulated in a single sentence borrowed from the Bible.
Heffington, a Derby resident who has never held political office, said insight into how she would tackle the daunting statewide political race and her approach to governing Kansas was covered by Matthew 6:33: "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."
She attempts to be faithful to that train of thought and is convinced more Kansans should do likewise. Failure to adhere to the God-first mantra breeds corruption, especially prevalent in the legal system, and is directly tied to the state's economic tailspin, she said.
"We're a Christian nation, and I feel we need to get back to those principles," said Heffington, who believes the United States has lost its moral compass. "I see our nation going down further and further."
Heffington officially filed as a candidate, but she hasn't sought endorsement by the Kansas Republican Party. She is girding for the GOP primary challenge of U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, a Topeka Republican who appears to be the party's front-runner for governor. The most prominent Democratic candidate is state Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City.
Her running mate is Mark Holick, pastor of Spirit One Christian Center in Wichita. Holick made political news for posting on the church's marquee a declaration to America: "We have a Muslim president. This is a sin against the Lord!"
Heffington, 54, is the daughter of an Air Force fighter pilot killed in 1965 while serving in Vietnam and spent most of her life in the Wichita area.
She graduated from a community college and then earned bachelor's and master's degrees in administration of justice at Wichita State University. After college, she served as a Wichita traffic investigator from 1982 to 1984. She was employed for 17 years at Boeing in the purchasing department and participated in project work on Air Force One.
She obtained a real estate license in 2000 and about the same time became the first woman to join the Wichita Area Builders Association. Some in the organization, she said, didn't welcome her with open arms. She was president of Heffington Homes until 2005. That was the year she fell short in her first bid for public office, finishing fifth among six candidates for the Derby school board.
It was four years ago this Tuesday that Heffington's 50-year-old husband, Mark, died of a heart attack suffered along a highway near Andover. The couple had four sons.
Heffington operates the Association for Honest Attorneys, otherwise known as A.H.A!, to increase public awareness of "illegal and unethical practices of many attorneys." In 2003, she wrote and published "Ten Secrets You Must Know Before Hiring a Lawyer."
Heffington isn't shy about challenging authority figures.
She hit Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston with a 2005 lawsuit alleging wrongful prosecution of her son, who was accused of making a false report of another student's threat to cause violence at school and for allegedly taking a truck on a joy ride.
A lawsuit in 2006 against the U.S. Department of Defense asserted her father, Maj. Jack Farr, and other pilots were sent on a "suicide mission" in an attempt to generate support for U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia.
In 2007, she took legal action against the Derby school district in an attempt to compel changes in the way classroom funding was allocated and filed suit against 10 doctors and two hospitals alleging negligence in handling of her personal medical problems.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed her appeal of a 2008 lawsuit against President George W. Bush and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. She claimed government operatives conspired to cause her husband's death and attempts on her own life. She contended Bush lashed out in response to A.H.A!'s campaign to expose government fraud.
All of this legal wrangling caught the attention of Tai Vokins, an assistant attorney general for the state of Kansas.
In December, Vokins filed a lawsuit in Sedgwick County alleging Heffington dispensed legal advice without a law license. The petition says Heffington violated the Kansas Consumer Protection Act by advertising she could help people bring lawsuits in federal court.
Heffington said the attorney general's office had the wrong impression of her advocacy of legal reform.
Heffington said she would seek election of all judges. The state should guarantee effective legal counsel to plaintiffs in civil lawsuits in the same manner defendants received a court-appointed attorney in criminal cases, she said.
She supports a proposed U.S. constitutional amendment requiring computer evaluation of evidence in civil and criminal cases. The software program would calculate in advance the likelihood a defendant was guilty.
"Cases would be decided based on their merits and not technicalities," she said. "The only disadvantage of a justice amendment? Attorneys might make less money."
Heffington said the state should adopt the "No Child Left Alone Act" to guarantee parents freedom to adjust work schedules so they could take their children to and from school.
Heffington, who has sent her sons to public and private schools, said administrative expenses swallowed far too much of what taxpayers invested in K-12 public education in Kansas. More resources should make it to direct classroom services, she said.
"I would love to get into the budgets of schools," Heffington said.
As governor, Heffington said, she would oppose all tax increases. Property taxes for people 65 years and older should be abolished, she said.
"I want to give government back to the people," she said.
Heffington said she would use polling to guide her decisions on all bills adopted by the Legislature. She wouldn't sign legislation receiving less than two-thirds approval of Kansans. Her administration also would require bills to pass a constitutional and Biblical test.
She said the Ten Commandments and the Christian admonition to "love your neighbor as yourself" would guide her as governor when weighing issues involving technology not in existence when chapters of the Bible were compiled.
"I don't think there should be a separation of faith and state," said Heffington, who attends a Presbyterian church in Derby. "Most of us believe in God. I do."
The state should require public school instruction in Christianity as long as teachers continue to press the case for evolution in classrooms, she said.
"They'll teach about the fear of God," the GOP candidate said. "This is something kids need to learn."