By EARL WATT
• Leader & Times
If Garrett Love is appointed Dec. 27, he could become the youngest ever to serve in the Kansas Senate.
Love officially announced Friday he will seek the position after two months of recruitment efforts throughout the 38th district.
Love pulled a stunning upset earlier in 2010 when he unseated long-time House member Melvin Neufeld in the Republican primary for the 118th House seat.
Love is a Montezuma native who recently graduated from Washburn and is 22-years-old. He was asked to speak at a number of engagements throughout Southwest Kansas and across the state, and his story of conservative principles coupled with a record of helping Washburn University save millions in student fees and additional costs impressed the area as a whole.
When Tim Huelskamp won the race for the U.S. House of Representatives, a number of people began recruiting Love to replace Huelskamp.
“It has been an interesting couple of months,” Love said. “I have had a lot of conversations with a lot of folks from our area. Ultimately, I want to serve. After a lot of prayer and consideration, I have decided to seek the appointment.”
Love has already garnered a number of precinct member’s support, a critical move since it will be the Republican precinct members who will make the appointment at a special convention at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 27 in Dodge City.
Precinct members in the 38th District, which includes Liberal and Seward County, will need to attend the meeting to cast a vote for the Senate appointment. If a precinct member cannot attend, they may vote by proxy, but only two proxies will be allowed to be carried by another precinct member. Those seeking to vote by proxy should contact Republican Seward County Chairman Reid Petty.
Love will more than likely face Neufeld in a rematch, this time for the Senate seat.
Brian Weber, Vice Mayor from Dodge City, was also seeking the seat but was appointed to the 119th House seat Friday evening from Dodge City and will no longer seek the Senate seat.
Love, who has been attending meetings in Topeka to prepare to serve in the House, said there are critical issues facing the state that will take immediate action.
“The issue glaring at us the most is clearly the budget,” Love said. “We have a half-billion dollar budget shortfall for the coming year that will require some tough decisions and creative solutions in order to help Kansas come out of the situation we’re in now – with a more friendly business environment that will allow for growth in Southwest Kansas and the entire state.”
While Love may be young, he is not new to politics. As president of the student body at Washburn University, one of the largest universities in Kansas, Love was able to return a surplus in student fees rather than spend all the money allocated to his board.
He also was appointed to a special task force by the president of Washburn and helped cut $2 million in expenses to the school which avoided an excessive rate hike for tuition.
“I will bring a fresh perspective,” Love said. “Far too often, business-as-usual politics wins out, but it has not been working. I always ask, why do we do things this way or that way. When I hear the answer, ‘We always do it that way,’ I never felt that was a good answer.”
Love also seeks to bring a lot of energy to the Kansas Senate as well.
While he has visited with several across the 38th District to test his interest in running, he has developed relationships throughout the district.
“I have enjoyed the opportunity to get to know many of the leaders in the communities through this process,” he said. “There are a lot of very good people, good minds and good leaders in this area. It would be an honor to serve them in the Kansas Senate.”