Newton Board of Education member Tim Hodge was not at the school district community planning meeting Tuesday night — he instead was at a meeting of the Harvey County Democratic Party at the courthouse.
Hodge had an announcement to make Tuesday. He will run for the office of Kansas House of Representative District No. 72, an office currently held by Marc Rhoades (R-Newton.)
“What convinced me to run is we have to get our tax system fair and take care of our public schools,” Hodge said. “We have to uphold the rule of law with our court system.”
Hodge was in need of about 65 signatures on a petition at that meeting. His plan, he said, was to file for candidacy Wednesday.
A flier he circulated Tuesday cited several issues he believes need to be addressed by the state legislature including the income tax system, public education, high interest loans, funding the Kansas Department of Transportation, the secretary of state, revenue shortfalls, a tobacco settlement fund use, state retiree funding, agency reserve sweeps, poor job reports, higher sales taxes, higher property taxes and judge selection.
“This election cycle will be all about informing our friends and neighbors about what is going on,” Hodge said.
Tuesday he highlighted three issues — the court system, public education and the tax system.
“The Kansas Income Tax System is not fair,” Hodge said. “What would have been fair, if you wanted to say it is fair, is to take a uniform percentage discount on everybody — not exempt 330,000 groups off the rolls.”
Hodge was referring to a move by the state legislature and Gov. Sam Brownback to remove income tax for some business owners in an attempt to spur economic growth.
Hodge also spoke Tuesday about the diversity found in public schools — and not only the racial differences between students, but also physical differences and religious differences.
“They get to learn about each other and be friends with people who do not look like them,” Hodge said. “That is something we can not chip away at. It is expensive to do this for people who do not often appreciate public school and want to go to war with a certain teacher or principal. There is something bigger going on, and it is a whole lot more than test scores.”
Hodge spoke about judge selection and said that the current system removes politics from who is appointed to the bench. It is a system that he would like to preserve, and one that has come under attack in recent years.
“It is not a the 'good old boy' system people want to say we have,” Hodge said. “In fact, if you let the governor appoint judges that is what you will have. … our system rrequires people who, if they want to go through a gauntlet of scrutiny, are evaluated by their peers.”
In addition to being a member of the USD 373 Board of Education, Hodge is a former teacher. He sought a law degree after teaching business law at Tabor College for three years and two years as a civics teacher at Peabody High School. He has now practiced law for 12 years.