A special session of the Kansas Legislature has given Kansas House Rep. Bud Estes his first opportunity to represent the interests of western Kansans in Topeka.
Rep. Estes, a Dodge City-area businessman and a first-term legislator, was selected by the Ford County Republican Central Committee in June to fill-out the term of former representative Brian Weber, who resigned earlier this year.
During the two-day session, Estes was able to become acquainted with his staff, his colleagues, and other leaders in the capitol.
"It went really well. I met a lot of people and I got to experience how everything works before I get there in January," Estes said.
According to Estes, his colleagues in the legislature have been welcoming and supportive. They are eager to work with him and hear the views that he brings. "They are genuinely interested," he said.
Estes hopes to represent western Kansas in the same way that former Rep. Weber did.
"I've known him [Weber] since he was a young man. I admire and respect him very much. He represented us in the best of ways. I want to follow in his footsteps," Estes said.
Serving in the legislature will give Estes the chance to voice the views of western Kansans, as did Weber.
"My purpose for being there is to bring the needs of Dodge City and western Kansas to Topeka," he said.
Eastern Kansas has a higher number of representatives in Topeka than western Kansas because the population is higher in the eastern part of the state,
"They [the legislators from eastern Kansas] need to be aware of what certain legislation will do here. I have to make them aware. They need to know how it will affect us."
Estes will bring a variety of government leadership and business experiences to Topeka, he said.
The state representative formerly served on the Bucklin City Council and was the mayor of Bucklin for 14 years.
"As mayor, I worked well with the governments of Dodge City and Ford County," he said.
In addition, Estes served on the Ford County Planning Commission and has been involved with the Dodge City/Ford County Development Corporation, Dodge City Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Round-up Rodeo, among other organizations.
Estes has also been a part-owner and operating-partner of a variety of businesses in southwest Kansas. For twenty-years, he owned and operated a sizeable farm and raised cattle. His siblings and he currently own and operate BTI Equipment in Ness City and have holdings in the wind energy industry.
"All of these experiences give me something I can draw on in Topeka," he said. "I can speak from experience. When it comes to debating a topic, my experience will help bring forth our viewpoint."
Page 2 of 3 - Though Estes has had many experiences and understands the issues well, he said that he is open to the views of others. "My management style is not one of 'It's my way or the highway,'" he explained.
Being open to the views of others has helped him during his business career.
"When making business decisions, I appreciate input from my managers and family members. Our decisions are made that way. We discuss, debate, and then we decide which way we will go. We look at all angles," he said.
"When it comes down to considering ideas or legislation, I want to consider all views before making decisions or voting," Estes said. "My values are conservative Republican, but I am certainly willing to consider other views."
"I am not there with an axe to grind or with a big banner or thinking that I am going to change the world. I want to be available. I want to hear the constituents' issues concerns, and ideas."
"Western Kansas has been very good to our family for 70 years, Estes said. "The reason I wanted to serve in this capacity was to give back to the community for what they have given to us. I want to do what is good for all Kansans and what is good for our constituents here."
His constituents are invited to visit him at the capitol and tour the building.
"I would be tickled to death to take them through the Capitol," he said. "Our capitol building is one of the most beautiful in the whole country."
Now that Estes' and his wife's four children are grown, he has more time to devote to serving the public.
The businesses that he and his siblings are involved in are all in good shape and are led by competent managers, which makes it possible for him to serve in the legislature, the representative said.
"I was busy with raising a family and helping to run a family business. I didn't have as much time before," Estes said.
He will continue to be a co-owner and co-manager of his family's businesses, but he now will concentrate on serving his constituents, he said. "I have good managers in place and a good family. They can get along just fine without me."
The support and encouragement that Estes has received from his family have made it possible for him to serve. "My family has been very supportive." he said. "I am really happy that my wife is enthusiastic about it."
When Estes was sworn-in, his family went with him to Topeka to show their support and to share the memory with him. "It was a thrill to have my kids and grandkids there," he said.
Page 3 of 3 - "I am thrilled and honored to be able to represent Dodge City, Ford County, and western Kansas," Estes added.