Douglas County legislator Tom Holland won’t seek reelection to the Kansas Senate
photo by: AP File Photo
Updated at 1:43 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6
After more than 20 years in the Statehouse, Douglas County legislator Tom Holland won’t seek reelection to the Kansas Senate.
Holland, D-Baldwin City, told the Journal-World on Wednesday that he had decided to pursue several opportunities in the private sector rather than run for reelection. Holland will continue to serve through the 2024 legislative session, which will begin in January.
As the Journal-World has reported, Holland is a founder of a growing firearms technology company that has developed handgun technology that is designed to prevent accidental shootings by requiring the user to wear a specially equipped ring in order for the handgun to fire.
Holland said that business, Free State Firearms, is growing and needs more of his time.
“But I have other opportunities as well, and that is what I’m going to do,” Holland said. “I’m really going back to the private sector.”
Holland’s decision comes at a time when there are lots of changes coming to the legislative maps. Next year’s election will be the first for Kansas senators following the once-a-decade-process of redistricting, where new lines are drawn for legislative districts.
Holland’s Senate District No. 3 changed significantly through redistricting. A big change is that the district has an incumbent Republican senator who lives in the district currently. Sen. Rick Kloos, a Shawnee County Republican, currently serves as the senator for District No. 19. But when the new maps become effective in 2025, Kloos will be in the newly redrawn District No. 3.
Holland, though, said the redistricting process did not play a role in his decision. At one point in the redistricting process, there was a question of whether Holland’s home would remain in District No. 3 or would be in a separate district, District No. 9, which also has a Republican incumbent, Beverly Gossage of rural Johnson County.
But Holland indicated that he could have run for reelection in District No. 3, if he so chose, but instead was excited about the opportunities to do more in the private sector.
“The one message I really want to get out to everybody is I will always be extremely grateful to those Kansans who entrusted me to represent them,” Holland said. “It really has been an incredible honor. It is an integral part of who I am.”
When Holland completes his current term next year, he will have served 22 years in the Kansas Statehouse. He served six years in the Kansas House of Representatives, and will have served 16 years in the Senate. During that time, Holland also was the Democratic nominee for governor in 2010, losing to Republican Sam Brownback in the general election.
There will be a race for Senate District 3. Kloos, who is the director of a religious-based thrift store in Topeka, has filed for election to District No. 3 on the Republican ticket. On the Democratic ticket, Dena Sattler — a rural Topeka resident, former spokeswoman for Gov. Laura Kelly, and former newspaper editor and publisher in Garden City — has filed for the seat.
More candidates may choose to run; they have until June 3 to file.
The district has become more rural and geographically expansive under the new legislative map. The district includes a smaller portion of the city limits of Lawrence, primarily an area north of Clinton Parkway that stretches to Kasold Drive in southwest Lawrence but stretches only to Queens Road in northwest Lawrence.
The district also includes most of western, rural Douglas County, all of Osage County, portions of southeast Topeka and southern Shawnee County, and most of northern Franklin County, including Ottawa.
The district has transformed from one that elected a Douglas County Democrat for years to one where Douglas County voters in 2025 are projected to comprise just 25% of the district. Franklin County has the largest population in the district at about 29%, while Shawnee has 23% and Osage 22%.
Lawrence residents, however, are assured of getting at least one new senator. The new legislative map dramatically changed Senate District 19. That district will stretch from eastern Topeka, go through Lecompton and include large portions of western Lawrence north of Sixth Street. No current senator lives in the district, meaning it will be an open seat in the 2024 elections.
Longtime Topeka Democrat Vic Miller, who currently serves in the Kansas House of Representatives, has filed for the Senate seat. Thus far no other candidates have filed for the seat.
While the new District 19 has significant portions of Lawrence in the district, it very much is dominated by Shawnee County’s population. Nearly 84% of the district’s population resides in Shawnee County.