One of the Kansas statewide elected officials seeking the top job in Topeka visited Atchison on Monday afternoon to interact with the public.
Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer, R-Fairway, held an informal gathering at The Sunflower, 115 N. 5th St., with his recently selected running mate, Jen Sanderson, R-Goodland, a restaurant owner and investor.
Selzer, who said his family owns a farm in Johnson County, said Kansas must focus on growing the agricultural economy and slimming down the cost of government.
He also said he is in favor of working with other states to try to persuade President Donald Trump to abandon protectionist trade policies, while touching on improving state government transparency.
"We need to champion the strengths that we have and what we can do to diversify," Selzer said. "We need to create a better business environment in local communities. Most towns don't need a 1,600-employee processing plant. They need strong 10- and 20-employees businesses."
During an impromptu speech to attendees, Selzer said he doesn't support state employee layoffs, but said departments would be encouraged to replace employees who voluntarily leave or retire only if their positions are considered essential.
"I feel like we can gradually achieve a reduction of 1,000 to 2,000 state positions," Selzer said. "I don't believe in slashing and burning, as some of my opponents advocate."
Asked about his stance on the agricultural economy as it relates to international trade, Selzer said the government of Kansas is not doing enough in cooperation with other states to communicate with the White House.
"We need a governor who understands the negative impact tariffs will have," Selzer said. "We can have an impact on that if we work together with other state governors."
Another priority Selzer advocated for the state government to adopt is greater transparency, starting on a personal level, saying he has released his tax returns for the last three years and believes all candidates for state elected office should do so.
"We can't expect the state to be transparent if the governor is not transparent," he said. "Lead by example. We often talk about that."
Sanderson said if elected lieutenant governor, she will focus on improving public-private partnerships and encouraging young Kansans to stay in the state after finishing post-secondary education.