Josh Svaty is no stranger to politics in Kansas.

The former District 108 representative and Kansas Secretary of Agriculture, Svaty has served Kansas for seven years.

Now Svaty is aiming higher.

On May 16, 2017, Svaty announced his run for Kansas governor on the Democrat ticket and is one of more than 20 candidates to be in the running along with six who are teenagers.

On Monday, Svaty made a stop at the Dodge City Daily Globe as part of his Gubernatorial tour leading up to the election.

"It is crazy to see so many running," Svaty said. "I think the number is close to 23 candidates now."

Svaty grew up on a farm in Ellsworth which he owns along with his wife Kimberly.

A graduate of Sterling College, aside from the teenagers, Svaty is one of the youngest candidates in the Gubernatorial race at 37.

"I am the only Democratic candidate that has both legislative and state administrative experience, having run a state agency," Svaty said. "I care deeply about the state, my family got to Ellsworth County in the 1860s.

"We have been there a long time and I have a lot of pride in Kansas both in it's reasonable and centrist government and in the way it is perceived by everyone else.

"It's a well-governed place, forward-thinking, open to everyone and I  think all of that has taken several steps back in the last seven years, and that's why I got in the race, to fix it."

Svaty added that the state is mature to what has taken place over the past seven years in regards to former Governor Sam Brownback, who recently resigned to take a position in the Trump Administration.

"Part of this was a confluence of events with a downturn in the ag, oil and gas economies which are hard," Svaty said.

If elected, the first thing Svaty said he would start working on would be KanCare, the services that administers the state's Medicaid since 2013.

"It took me four months to cover my 105-county tour and it was a great experience," Svaty said. "It allowed me to see distances and really get out and meet people but more than anything I was able to listen a lot and it became abundantly clear that KanCare is not functioning the way it was intended to function.

"It is not more efficient, it is creating additional layers of bureaucracy rather than removing them.

"Providers are struggling to get reimbursed from the state and are having to hire additional staff just to get reimbursements, so day one, KanCare becomes a significant overhaul for me."

Svaty made reference to discussions of long-term contracts being done to the KanCare 2.0 program that was halted by Brownback days before leaving Topeka.

"I certainly think the state needs to think long and hard before they enter to such long contracts," Svaty said. "And the contracts is another issue I raised, I am one of the candidates that's saying, 'We need to have an open discussion about having a state auditor again.'

"Because long-term contracts, whether it's office space for state employees or the KanCare contracts, which are billion dollar contracts, can encumber future legislatures and governors deep into years ahead and we have to make sure if we're going to do that it is for all the right reasons and it is completely above board and appropriately done."

Regarding transportation, Svaty was asked about the plans for a four-lane highway on Highway 50 that would run between Dodge City and Cimarron and how those plans were scrapped at the last second for budgetary reasons.

"We have to have a comprehensive transportation plan," Svaty said. "And it needs to be a 10-year plan for a variety of reasons.

"We have projects we need to complete around the state, infrastructure in and out of Liberal being another one here in western Kansas.

"But more so than that, these large contractors are an important part  of the Kansas economy, they have a lot of employees, and you have to have a pipeline of work for them so that they know they can keep their employees occupied for the next 5-10 years and we have now, it's like a flywheel, if you let that thing come to a dead stop then it takes a long time to get going again and we have almost come to a full stop.

"The bulk of the transportation work that is happening now in the state is Federal dollars only and we have good contractors, with good Kansas employees, that want to work here that have shifted the bulk of their employees to other states like Nebraska and Colorado, because that's where the work is and that's hard on those families, it's hard on the employers and it's doing nothing for our Kansas economy."

To contact the writer email vmarshall@dodgeglobe.com