Former Kansas Department of Transportation Secretary Deb Miller on Thursday said that state Rep. Anthony Brown, R-Eudora, was not involved in helping secure safety improvements along Kansas Highway 10. Brown issued a response saying that he was involved in getting cable median barriers approved for a section of the road.
The issue has erupted in the race for the 3rd State Senate District race in which Brown is challenging Democratic incumbent Tom Holland of Baldwin City.
Holland was endorsed by Eudora Mayor Scott Hopson, who said Holland helped the community improve safety on K-10 after a 2011 accident that killed 5-year-old Cainan Shutt.
In his endorsement of Holland, Hopson said, "We made numerous phone calls to our local elected state representatives. Only one stepped up." Hopson has said Brown did nothing to help.
Brown, however, said he worked "tirelessly" behind the scenes on the issue, and he noted a July letter he received from current KDOT Secretary Mike King, in which King thanked Brown "for your ongoing concern to see this project through." King was appointed secretary by Gov. Sam Brownback in March.
But Miller, who was transportation secretary from 2003 through 2011, said, "I remember very well the tragic April 2011 collision that claimed the life of 5-year-old Cainan Shutt. I also remember who stepped forward to work with KDOT on a plan to improve the safety of that stretch of K-10.
“Eudora Mayor Scott Hopson played a critical role. So did Sen. Holland. Both were involved from start to finish in the discussions that led to the installation of new safety barriers in the highway median. Rep. Anthony Brown simply was not.”
In response to Miller's statement, Brown reiterated his position. He said that in the 2012 legislative session, after a bill that Holland was pushing to create a safety corridor failed, "I was able to communicate our community's desire to have safety cables built to the budget director and governor's staff. Because of those efforts the cables are being placed with no additional taxes or fees to pay for them."
Miller was first appointed secretary by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat. Miller was reappointed by Brownback, a Republican, and then later left her position to take a private sector job.