Shawnee Democrat Laura Smith-Everett enters race for Rep. Tom Cox’s House seat

Laura Smith-Everett and family. Submitted photo.
Laura Smith-Everett and family. Submitted photo.

Shawnee resident Laura Smith-Everett announced today that she will seek the Democratic nomination for the District 17 seat in the Kansas House of Representatives held by first-term incumbent Republican Tom Cox.

Smith-Everett, a professional educator who currently serves as an instructional coach at a Kansas City, Mo., charter school, said she was motivated to enter the race by the effects of the policy “experiments” enacted during Gov. Sam Brownback’s tenure.

“As a mother and an educator I care deeply about creating a prosperous future for our children,” she said in a statement. “It is imperative that we elect service-minded representatives with the courage to take a stand for working families and build a stronger Kansas.”

Smith-Everett was born in Ottawa, Kan., and attended William Jewel College in Liberty, Mo. As a college student, she interned for Republican Sen. Kit Bond, an experience she says left her with a passion for public service. She obtained a masters degree from the University of Kansas in education, focusing on Teaching English as a Second Language.

Prior to her return to Kansas, she spent eight years teaching on the east side of Austin, Tex., where she gained experience working in Title I schools.

She and her husband James have three children, one of whom has special needs. Her eldest child is currently a student in Shawnee Mission schools.

Cox was elected in 2016, having defeated incumbent Brett Hildabrand, a conservative, 62-38 in the primary. He went on to beat Democratic nominee Helen Stoll 56-44 in the general election.

Republican Jim Eschrich attempted to file to challenge Cox in November, but his filing was initially ruled ineligible by the Secretary of State’s office because his voter registration information did not match the residency information on his campaign paperwork. Eschrich said he intended to refile for the position, but his name is still not listed on the Johnson County Election Office’s candidate list. Eschrich said he was motivated to enter the race by Cox’s vote in support of the bill rolling back much of the Brownback income tax cuts.