Northeast Johnson County voters on Tuesday voted to send a trio of moderate Republicans back to Topeka and elected Democratic newcomer Jarrod Ousley to the House to replace the Democrat who stepped down from the District 24 seat.
Reps. Barbara Bollier (Dist. 21), Stephanie Clayton (Dist. 19) and Melissa Rooker (Dist. 25) earned easy reelection against Democratic challengers, ensuring the moderate voting block who bucked the conservative line on education and finance issues would continue to have a voice in the coming session.
At a watch party at the Blue Moose in Prairie Village, Rooker, Bollier and Clayton presented a united front on the most pressing issues facing the state, namely the growing budget shortfalls and education funding. Clayton said she believed her constituents were eager to have representation that would “take a very firm and detailed look at the budget and make responsible decisions.”
Rooker reiterated her belief that there was no way the government was going to be able to make enough cuts to bring the budget back in line.
“Constituents are looking for bipartisanship,” she said. “They’re tired of the politics. They’re tired of the games. They want us to get back to basics and get the job done.”
In District 24, voters elected Ousley to the seat most recently occupied by Emily Perry, who did not seek reelection after moving out of the district. Ousley and his wife Heather had become familiar faces in the debate over school funding after Heather walked from Johnson County to Topeka with Game On For Kansas Schools in 2013 and 2014.
On Tuesday night, Ousley said education had been a focal point in his campaign and had fueled turnout for his voters.
“We have a lot of retired teachers and public school employees in the 24th, and they want to see the support they deserve,” he said.