Editor's Note: This is part of a series of candidate profiles based on answers to a questionnaire sent out by the Tribune.
Gene Garman of Pittsburg is the Democrat running for the District 13 Senate seat against Republican Jake LaTurner.
Garman, who works nights for the Pittsburg school district, USD 250, and days for the city parks department, says it's time to address poverty in Southeast Kansas.
"But as long as the legislature is controlled by Republicans, raising the state minimum wage to a decent living wage is a mirage," he said. "There is no evidence the Republicans will provide assistance or adequate social service for the poor and needy among us.
"If my information is correct, right now over 50 percent of children in USD 250 (Pittsburg), rely on government food programs. We need a Kansan in the State Senate with a strong commitment to the ordinary lives of ordinary folks who work hard and are in need of help," he said.
Garman said the first piece of legislation he would introduce is an increase the state minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 per hour, "which, realistically, is still a poverty-level wage and does not provide sufficient income with which to adequately provide for a family, even if both parents work," he said.
He said his experience and formal education have impressed on him the responsibility to do unto others as he would have done unto him. "The need to fully fund public education and social services for the poor and needy among us is the right and the American thing to do.
Southeast Kansas and Crawford County are among the most economically depressed counties in the state," Garman said.
He said the legislature is hampered by a "poverty of imagination, coupled with ideological rigidity," that keeps Kansas "limping along economically at both the state and local levels of government. Improve the lives of local residents in each community and the entire state benefits," Garman said.
He said voters should choose him because he was born and grew up on a farm with an outhouse downstream from a hand-dug water well. "(I) was listening to Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys before I learned to read and write in a one-room schoolhouse with kerosene lanterns on the wall, remember Pear Harbor, and am a U.S. Marine Corps Korean Veteran, with a Baylor University education, and, for what its worth, one year of education at Washburn University School of Law, my fifth year on the G.I. Bill.
"I also hold a Master of Divinity degree, from a theological seminary. I am retired from the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, which has a local office in Frontenac, and the National Association of Letter Carriers, Pittsburg. No campaign contributions accepted," Garman said.