Roeland Park city councilman Michael Poppa and Westwood city councilman Jeff Harris are two of the six openly-LGBTQ elected officials in Kansas, and they’ve both joined the board of a new political action committee that will work to elect more LGBTQ+ individuals to office in the state.
Formed late last month, the new LGBTQ+ Leadership PAC will focus on fundraising and organizing political resources to support LGBTQ+ candidates.
Matthew Calcara, a Shawnee Mission schools graduate who ran for the Democratic nomination in House District 30 this summer, will serve as the organization’s chair.
“For far too long, the LGBTQ+ community in Kansas has lacked the organizational and institutional capacity to win elections and gain political representation. Starting today, that changes,” Calcara said in an announcement following the group’s registration with the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission.
The group’s board is composed of all six openly LGBTQ+ elected officials in the state:
- Jeff Harris (Westwood city council)
- Jason Jenkins (Linn Valley city council)
- Jerred McKee (Manhattan city commission)
- Michael Poppa (Roeland Park city council)
- Henry Schwaller (Hays city commission)
- Cindy “CC” Smith (Linn Valley mayor)
Harris is the group’s treasurer.
“The reality of our current political situation is that campaigning, competing and winning takes money,” Harris said. “We want to give LGBTQ+ candidates crucial financial support so that they can be seen as viable candidates.”
The group has already begun organizing support for candidates running in November’s elections. It has endorsed Democrat Susan Ruiz, who is running for the District 23 seat occupied by Republican Linda Gallagher; and Brandon Woodard, who won the District 30 Democratic primary and is facing Republican Wendy Bingesser in the general election.