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School board member wants spot in state Legislature





Hays USD 489 Board of Education Vice President James Leiker is hoping to move to the state level of decision making.

Leiker, who was elected to the school board in 2011, was approached last fall to run for the 111th District in the state Legislature.

"I started looking at the issues that we deal with on the school board, the issues that the community deals with, the city deals with, the county deals with. When you look at the common thread, the common thread in there is all funding from the state," he said. "You can't change that on a local level. You have to move up."

Education accounts for the largest piece of the budget pie.

Balancing the budget is by far the biggest challenge the state faces, he said.

"Next fiscal year, we're way outspending what we're bringing in. Anybody that runs a household, or has a checkbook, or has a bank account, knows that you can't keep spending more than what you have."

If he's elected to the state Legislature, Leiker will have to resign from the school board.

"I know there are a bunch of very qualified people that did put their hat in the ring when Darren (Schumacher) stepped down, so I know that position could be filled by a lot of quality people," Leiker said.

Leiker, a Democrat, will face incumbent Sue Boldra, R-Hays, in November. He encourages people to keep educating themselves about the candidates.

An Ellis County native, Leiker graduated from Thomas More Prep-Marian High School and earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Fort Hays State University.

He has worked as a watershed technician for Kansas State University and education director at Sternberg Museum of Natural History. He now operates a home-based business.

He and his wife, Taryn, have two children, Reece, a fifth-grader, and Channing, a kindergartner at Wilson Elementary School. Leiker has served as site council chairman at Wilson for six years.