Sharon Schwartz

(Kyle Bauer) Hi, this is Kyle Bauer. I have the opportunity to visit with Sharon Schwartz. Sharon is a retiring longtime legislator in Kansas. Sharon, how long has it been? (Sharon Schwartz) Actually, it’s been 20 years. Didn’t seem possible. 1996, 20 years ago, is the first year I ran for the Legislature. (Kyle) And you were very involved in leadership and farm organizations prior to that. (Sharon) That’s true. It’s really probably what led to me running for the Legislature. At a point when — like I say, it was never on my bucket list but when you want to be a voice for agriculture whether it was — whatever sector it was. It happened to be that we were pork producers at that time and then, in general, agricultural issues. It was actually a format that I could have a voice to be a part of. (Kyle) After that amount of time, are there some things you count in the win column? Accomplishments? (Sharon) Probably more behind the scenes because that’s how I really have — I think I have been pretty effective just working behind the scenes. Not necessarily making all the headlines in the newspapers, which I tried to stay away from was making headlines. But some of them are water issues that have been and continues to be, issues as we move on. I know that one of the things that — when you were asked when you were running what you thought were going to be the big issues in the future for you and for the Legislature. I’ve always been consistent saying that water was going to be an issue because it’s so important for our livelihoods. Everyone’s livelihoods, not only agriculture but for the state and for the citizens. Everybody has to have water to survive. That’s truly a big issue yet today. (Kyle) What about on the flip side after 20 years, issues that were around 20 years ago that are still around today? (Sharon) I think probably you’ll find my thread of what I have to say is pretty much around agriculture for the most part. But the same issues around 20 years ago are even more — are still here and they’re even more profound. That’s probably the understanding of agriculture and food production. When we redistrict, it’s soon going to be 10 years ago, well obviously, to be able to come up with the constituents you had larger land base to come up with that number of constituents. Consequently, the concentration of the legislators has moved to the urban areas where there’s a population. Those people speak up for rural Kansas — real rural Kansas is to manage, to help people to be able to be that voice and that’s going to continue. Whoever serves in those roles has to be intelligent and knowledgeable about the issues that affect rural Kansas. (Kyle) We’re visiting with Sharon Schwartz. Sharon is retiring from the legislature after 20 years. This is Kyle Bauer reporting. Back to you, Jamie.

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