Colyer tours western Kansas to share his thoughts on ag, health care
From an early age, former Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer learned the power of serving others. Attending Thomas More Prep school in his hometown of Hays served as a building block that has lasted him a lifetime.
At the school, Colyer learned the power of service through volunteering, which he has continued for decades. Along with being a practicing physician, he served as lieutenant governor for three years and governor for one. Although he still practices medicine, Colyer decided to run for governor once again.
On Wednesday, Colyer crisscrossed the state, meeting with people and exchanging ideas. He made stops in Pratt, Great Bend and Garden City. At the end of the evening, he stopped for a 50-person fundraising event in Hutchinson.
After graduating from TMP, Colyer went on to Georgetown University, where he studied economics and pre-medicine. This was followed by a master's degree from Cambridge University, after which he graduated from the University of Kansas School of Medicine.
Colyer is bothered that during the pandemic many schools and houses of worship were closed, but abortion centers were allowed to remain open. He said Kansans need to focus on education, improve skillsets and encourage young Kansans to stay in the state.
"I want to keep our kids here," he said. "We lose 35% of our kids (who go out of state for jobs)."
International healthcare efforts
During his last year of medical school, Colyer decided to help others around the world by volunteering with the International Medical Corps. Since then, he has volunteered in more than 25 war-torn countries, teaching others about healing and helping to open clinics worldwide. Most years, he spends three to four weeks tending those in need, from Afghanistan to Iraq to Rwanda to South Sudan. Colyer said this work translates easily to governing, adding that through his volunteer work, he has seen both the best and worst in people.
"You know how to lead in the most difficult of circumstances and how to work with people," he said.
Colyer still practices medicine, working as a plastic surgeon and hand specialist in Overland Park. Because of this work, he remains in touch with health care and is a member of numerous medical associations, including the World Health Organization Disaster Advisory Group.
Colyer, a fifth-generation Kansan, grew up on a small farm. Along with being a practicing dentist, his father raised wheat, alfalfa and cattle.
Agriculture is in my genes," Colyer said. "Agriculture is the lifeblood of the state of Kansas."
Understanding how commodities operate, the need for value-added agriculture and the importance of fair trade is important to Colyer.
This former governor wants to bring back a thriving economy to Kansas. He is upset Gov. Laura Kelly shut down many small businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak.
"Last year, 38% of businesses (in Kansas) closed," Colyer said. "A lot of these were multi-generational."
He wants voters to contrast Kelly's record to his, saying he left her with a $900 million surplus.
"During her first year, the rate of growth was cut in half," he said. "We went in the wrong direction."
By helping small businesses throughout the state, he believes there will be a boost in the economy and a resurgence in rural areas. To do this, Colyer wants to lower taxes, decrease legislation and make sure broadband is beefed up.
"We need to focus on helping small businesses," he said. "We had a dynamic small business center (before COVID-19)."
Colyer has endorsements from both U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., and U.S. Rep. Tracey Mann, R-Kan.
Before becoming governor, Kelly was state senator, and Colyer previously served as a state senator from the 37th district and state representative for the 48th district. LaPorte is a U.S. Army veteran. Schmidt is the former majority leader of the Kansas Senate and the former state senator from the 15th district.
"We (Kansas) are the true heart of America," Colyer said. "I want to see Kansas as the dynamic heart of America."