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Johnson County candidates vow to fight climate activism and liberal schools: ‘That’s not extreme'

A woman wearing a black jacket gestures while speaking at a podium draped with small American flags.
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
Michelle Dombrosky speaks at the Kansas First Rally in Kansas City, Kansas, on Friday evening. Dombrosky, who is running for re-election to the Kansas Board of Education, decried what she described as federal overreach in school policies.

A slate of conservative women seeking office pitched campaign messages to Johnson County voters Friday. Johnson County sheriff Calvin Hayden and Republican attorney general candidate Kris Kobach, who were expected to speak, did not appear.

Republican candidates hammered “traditional” conservatives and Democrats alike during a Friday evening gathering at Hope Family Fellowship Church in Kansas City, Kansas.

About 100 people scattered inside the church listened to six local candidates, all women, distinguish themselves from their democratic challengers and lay out concerns about transparency in government, individual liberty and overreach of the federal government.

The evening, called the “Kansas First Rally,” was billed as an event to “uplift, motivate and educate attendees and to promote Kansas First Candidates,” according to flyers. Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden and Kris Kobach, the Republican nominee for Kansas attorney general, had been billed as speakers for the event but were not there.

It also featured Lenexa resident Thad Snider, who is one of six plaintiffs who have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to nullify the 2020 election and forbid the use of voting machines in the next election, as master of ceremonies.

Michelle Dombrosky, who is running for re-election to the Kansas Board of Education, decried what she described as federal overreach in school policies, saying schools should be locally funded and parents should have more control of their child’s education and how their child’s health data is protected.

“That's where a lot of our problems are happening is at the federal level, coming into our schools,” Dombrosky said.

A man in a red shirt reads at a podium while his image is projected on a screen behind him. In foreground are people sitting in church pews listening to him.
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
Thad Snider, who is one of six plaintiffs who have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to nullify the 2020 election and forbid the use of voting machines in the next election, served as master of ceremonies for the Kansas First Rally in Kansas City, Kansas, on Friday at Hope Family Fellowship Church.

She railed on the extensive use of technology in schools and Common Core, a federal educational initiative enacted in 2010 that details what K-12 students should know in certain subjects at the conclusion of each grade.

“I see the shiny books every year in the schools,” she said. “My son learns better by retaining writing with pen, paper, and pencil using textbooks, not technology, because a lot of technology you're processing only parts of your brain.”

Dombrosky also expressed her fears of school officials and government violating student privacy for students needing mental or physical health care. Federal student privacy laws generally forbid schools from disclosing personally identifiable information about a student’s educational record, which includes health data.

“Our schools are not medical facilities,” she said. “I think it needs to be referred out and it needs to go to a professional and that needs to be private between you and your doctor in a protective facility.”

Stephanie Berland, a candidate for Johnson County Commission District 5, said she came to show her support for Hayden, whose office has been investigating election fraud without providing specifics or evidence.

“Johnson County has problems,” she said. “They don't want to admit that they have problems, but they do.”

Berland called out Democratic candidates Mike Kelly and Janeé Hanzlick for their climate activism.

“Him and Janeé Hanzlick are part of a not-for-profit, Climate Action KC — and it's in motion. It's in motion, the leases, solar farms,” she said. “We have got to get people on November 8th to turn it around. It's time to make a change.”

Lynn Mowrey from Louisburg, Kansas, said she was excited by the passion of the candidates but also said hearing the women’s perspectives made her feel less alone.

“I guess feelings of anger and disappointment that we all had during COVID,” she said. “We all felt isolated. That our voices weren’t being heard. It just resonated.”

Mowrey said she has been politically active for many years. She was excited to see a slate of conservative women candidates. She said it was good to hear from candidates who are not moderate Republicans or “RINOS,” a shorthand some conservatives use for Republicans-in-name-only.

“There’s not much difference between them and Democrats,” she said. “We’re labeled as extremists — individual rights, less government more liberty. That’s not extreme. That’s normal.”

Corrected: September 26, 2022 at 9:26 AM CDT
A previous version of this story incorrectly spelled Michelle Dombrosky's name. It has since been corrected.
As KCUR’s general assignment reporter and visual journalist, I bring our audience inside the daily stories that matter most to the people of the Kansas City metro, showing how and why events affect residents. Through my photography, I seek to ensure our diverse community sees itself represented in our coverage. Email me at carlos@kcur.org.
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