Olathe man running for Eudora’s House seat
It's not surprising Tom Marsh drives a Ford. A native of Michigan and GOP candidate for the 38th Kansas House of Representatives seat, which includes Eudora, Marsh was a longtime executive with the automaker until his retirement.
His vehicle, long since paid off, revealed something else about him, Marsh said.
"I'm fiscally responsible," he said.
It is a phrase he gladly embraced while attempting to avoid the cliches of political characterization in his campaign to represent the district that stretches along Kansas Highway 10 and includes De Soto, Eudora and parts of Olathe, Lenexa, Shawnee and Lawrence.
"Labels abound for candidates," he said. "What is important to know is I will be fiscally responsible and a representative who understands and cares about community needs."
This is the 58-year-old Marsh's first run for political office, but he is no stranger to community affairs. He is a member of the Olathe Planning Commission, The RSVP Advisory Council and Volunteer Center of Johnson County. He is also vice chairman of the Johnson County Heritage Trust Fund Grant Review Board, vice chairman of the Johnson County Transportation Advisory Council, and a board member with the Olathe Rotary Club.
"Community service is what it's all about," he said. "I feel strongly about it."
Marsh's announcement was anticipated. He accompanied Rob Boyer earlier this month when the current 38th District representative made the rounds to area newsrooms announcing his intention to seek the th Senate seat, currently held by Kay O'Connor. At that time, Boyer said he would support Marsh, a fellow resident of the Cedar Creek subdivision of Olathe.
Marsh said the central issues of his campaign would be the same as those Boyer ran on two years ago.
"My focus as a freshman representative will include business growth and strong public education, which go hand in hand," he said. "The future of Kansas depends on it.
"Fundamentally, a strong public education ought to be available to all citizens. I can't say how we get there yet."
He said he would study school finance in the coming months. The issue needed to be addressed in context of the state's overall budget and in his call for efficiency, he said. Dollars saved elsewhere could be used for education, he said.
Marsh does differ on one issue from the 38th District incumbent: Boyer ran two years ago as a pro-choice Republican. Marsh said he was pro-life.
It was his goal to define his campaign through objectives and not partisanship.
"I'm process-oriented, and I look for unintended consequences of all decisions," he said. "I don't really care where good ideas come from as long as they are constructive."
He shared with Boyer an interest in recruiting life-science companies to the K-10 corridor.
Fresh from Friday's K-10 Association meeting at Eudora that included a presentation on a proposal to place energy-generating windmills at the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant, Marsh said he would add another growth industry to that list.
"We should be looking strongly at renewable resources," he said. "It's important for this state to be big somewhere, meaning being the leader in an industry. Those two specific areas provide that opportunity."
As for Sunflower, Marsh said he would encourage the Johnson County Commission to make room for extensive community input as it selected a developer or developers for the plant's redevelopment.
From his background in corporate marketing, Marsh said the K-10 corridor offered intangibles beyond an enviable transportation link within a growing market.
"The assets that we have are the sense of community and values and commitments of the people," he said, "From an outsider looking at us, the strength of the fabric of the community is the thing that makes us the strongest and desirable."
Marsh and his wife, Katie, have three married sons and six grandchildren who live in the metropolitan area.