Editorís note: Because Tom Adrianís opponent in the Nov. 4 election writes a regular column in the Kansan, weíre giving Tom equal space to write.

I grew up on a farm a few miles northwest of here and, when I was a boy, my father had a phrase he was particularly fond of.

ďMake yourself useful!Ē heíd say and, with those words ringing in the air, Iíd buckle down to the task at hand.

Through the years, Iíve come to realize most all of the successes I have enjoyed have come as a result of making myself useful.

Currently, Iím running for representative from the 72nd District to the Kansas State House.

I took on this race because I think I can be useful in the Legislature and useful to the residents of Kansas House District 72.

In studying the challenges and problems the Legislature faces, I have come to the conclusion it isnít enough to criticize the actions of the opposing party or complain about the inevitable tension between the legislative and executive branches of government.

Being frustrated with the courtís order to live up to the constitutional responsibilities of the Legislature is no excuse for inaction or engaging in a blame game.

I believe my years of active leadership in our community have equipped me with the skills demanded of a legislator today.

Active leadership demands action. It means engaging in vigorous research and fact-finding and then dedicating the time to seek out the opinions of the various stakeholders.

It requires respect for diverse points of view and a keen ear for those gems of ideas that often are buried in impassioned argument.

It implies a willingness to look beyond the obvious and seek out solutions regardless of the source.

Active leadership is not imposed; it is responsive to situations.

The successes of the organizations I have served are not my successes but rather the results of the collective efforts of the members of these organizations. Being willing to step up to the plate and ďbe usefulĒ has been my contribution to these endeavors.

I see the Kansas House of Representatives as needing this kind of active leadership. The Legislature has drifted too far from its essential task.

Gov. Alf Landon told the Kansas Legislature in 1935 that: ďThe fundamental functions of a state are to administer justice, to educate the youth, to care for the poor and the unfortunate, to preserve the public health and to build roads ... The money with which to meet all public responsibilities is derived from taxation. This means that while performing all these services, the state must, above all, live within the means of its taxpayers.Ē

This admonition is as valid today as it was 73 years ago.

There are those who compare our situation today with that of the 1930s. It seems to me we have the advantage of hind-sight. We can draw courage and inspiration from the ultimate recovery our state and our nation made from that Great Depression, but recovery wonít come without discipline and determination.

Unlike the federal government, the state governments are not allowed to operate at a deficit.

Simply put, our state budget must be balanced between income (taxes) and expenses. We in the Midwest are not immune to the economic turmoil facing our country.

Just because most of us didnít indulge in the risky mortgages that have decimated home ownership in other parts of the country hasnít prevented us from suffering from an uncertain housing market.

We donít have to have extensive stock holdings to feel the effects of a turbulent market.

These nationwide economic realities will, no doubt, be reflected in our stateís economic vigor. We canít afford a representative who is content to not vote on a final budget.

We canít afford a representative whose understanding of state finances is based on experience with federal finances.

What we need is someone well-grounded in Kansas economic, educational and social values who can provide experienced, moderate, decisive leadership in the state Legislature.

If my father were still living, I expect he would say, ďGet up there to Topeka, Tom, and make yourself useful.Ē

Tom Adrian of Newton is a candidate for the District 72 seat in the Kansas House of Representatives.