Free State Party Candidates Clash Over Body Cameras and Clarify Misconceptions

By: Shelby Otte

April 25th, 2019


On Tuesday, April 23rd, each campaign in the gubernatorial race held their second press conference, conducted by the candidates themselves. Emerging issues from the press conferences included criminal justice reform and education. Each candidate also spoke briefly about recent controversies that emerged during the previous week.


Free State Party candidates Jack Griswold and Brandon Boyce made clear distinctions on their stances regarding body cameras. In his press conference, Boyce brought in a plethora of facts to back his assertion that body cameras work well to instill trust between communities and law enforcement officers, as well as keep both parties safe. In stark contrast, Griswold declared body cameras to be somewhat outdated, and asserted in his press conference that body cameras are not the strong action we need in order to protect our communities. While Griswold’s experiences in shaping criminal justice reform as the Mayor of Lawrence certainly have weight, it appears current research stands with Boyce.


Both Free State candidates spoke briefly about their recent controversies during their press conferences. Griswold, whose DUI charge resurfaced last week, addressed the issue eloquently, stating clearly during his press conference that his was glad the issue was addressed, and that he would happily agree to a full release of his criminal record. Additionally, Griswold vehemently denied allegations that he was attempting to use his political influence to drop his DUI since he was not in office during the time of the arrest.


Boyce, who was recently discovered to be registered as an independent, fiercely defended his record as a supporter of the Free State Party, and stated clearly his reasons for leaving the Sunflower party. Citing his past experience running as an independent against a Free State Party official during his successful run for House District 60, Boyce’s past clearly signifies he is well respected as a leader and contributor to the Free State Party despite being registered as an independent. As for why he left the Sunflower Party, Boyce specified during the press conference that he was dissatisfied with state of Kansas schools and the education portion of the Sunflower Party platform.


A recent opinion poll found that party was surprisingly insignificant when forming opinions of a candidate. When asked to rank party, policies, digital campaign ads, and reputation on a scale of most influential to least influential, only 11% of respondents viewed party as the most influential aspect of forming their opinions. In contrast, 74% of respondents viewed policies as being the largest determining factor. Boyce’s platform clearly signals that he is dedicated to the Free State Party, regardless of his official party registration, and if elected he will be especially considerate of Free State Party values.

Mrs. Southwick’s Husband Files to Start His Own Charter School

By: Shelby Otte

April 18th, 2019


The Free State Bulletin has recently uncovered that the husband of Sunflower Party candidate Isabella Southwick has been working at a charter school in Topeka. Furthermore, it has been discovered that Mr. Southwick has recently filed paperwork to open his own charter school in the area. Mr. Southwick’s permit was approved this week, meaning that if Mrs. Southwick’s school choice program is implemented it will be for the financial benefit of her own family.


This major conflict of interest is extremely troubling for the Southwick campaign. According to Mrs. Southwick’s platform, she supports school choice in order to give autonomy to parents over their child’s education; however, it is evident that the underlying reasoning behind her stance on school choice is that her family would greatly benefit from increased charter school enrollment. Additionally, the Southwick family would be using taxpayer dollars as an incentive for others to join private institutions, including Mr. Southwick’s new charter school.


Meanwhile, public schools will continue to lack adequate resources and our public school children will continue to be overlooked while Mrs. Southwick’s family prioritizes and reaps the financial rewards of parents sending their children to attend her husband’s new charter school. The Southwick campaign’s focus on children receiving the best education possible is greatly skewed towards private institutions – since Mrs. Southwick’s husband is greatly involved in the private school system, it is easy to see why she advocates for private schools so heavily.


Mrs. Southwick claims that she is not trying to take away funding from public schools; however, by promoting private schools and arguing that they allow children to have an advantage over competition, she is perpetuating the unhealthy narrative that private schools are better, therefore more deserving of funding than our public schools. In reality, it is clear that the Southwick family is in favor of an education choice program not because they value the autonomy of parents or the education of our students. Rather, the family is only concerned with their own financial prosperity.

Free State Primary Debate Fact Check: Do Private Schools Directly Harm Public Schools?

By: Shelby Otte

April 11th, 2019


Tuesday, April 9th, marked the first debate between Free State party candidates Brandon Boyce and Jack Griswold. The debate ranged from a variety of topics, including healthcare, education, legalization of marijuana, and criminal justice reform. One assertion, made by Mayor Griswold, is that private schools directly harm public schools. Griswold’s assertion backs his larger argument that no taxpayer dollars should be given to private institutions because they deplete resources from public schools.

Just how much harm do private schools cause?

As more parents are opting to send their children to private schools, students in public schools are left with diminished resources, and their institutions are forced to shutter programs as part of budget cuts needed to stay afloat. An article written in The Journal covered the findings of a research paper From Duke University that confirmed the gaping deficit in funding that was being thrown to private institutions. The article explains that in one North Carolina district where there had been a resent uptick in private schools and charters, the loss to public schools was the equivalent to “$700 per public school student, about $25 million total.” Other districts throughout the state experienced similar losses depending on private school enrollment, with smaller districts experiencing a loss of “between $200 and $500 per student.”*

Another article, published by The Week argues that private institutions are not only bad economically, but also harm public schools because there is increased pressure put on private institutions to give their students and “edge” over public school students. The article, published in July of last year, asserts that status competition directly harms public schools because “a valuable education is not only predicated upon something tangential to real learning, but also requires that a majority of young people draw short straws.”**


Mayor Griswold has substantial evidence backing his assertion that private institutions cause harm to public institutions. As the Mayor has stated numerous times throughout the campaign, private schools are for the direct benefit of affluent people at the expense of our working class and our public school students. It is evident that financially, our public schools are suffering because of private institutions.




Mayor Jack Griswold Discusses His Campaign Platform

By: Shelby Otte

April 4, 2019


During last week’s announcement and first press conference, it was clear that the theme of Mayor Jack Griswold’s campaign is common sense. Mayor Griswold recently sat down with the Free State Bulletin to discuss in more depth the founding pillars of his campaign.


When it comes to healthcare, Griswold believes our current system isn’t fair. Families go bankrupt while trying to get treatments. In some cases, individuals would rather drive to the hospital because they can’t afford an ambulance ride. Griswold asserts that there must be drastic action from the government in order to fix this broken system.


Griswold calls current healthcare solutions such as the ACA and Medicare a “Band-Aid on a gunshot wound. A good idea, but they did not do what they set out to do”. Griswold’s solution is to make healthcare a level playing field in the form of a free market. Additionally, Griswold seeks to crack down on drug companies who overcharge and overprescribe patients. As an administration, Griswold would emphasize the need for strong regulation to these pharmaceutical companies, because right now “our current system is unfair to everyone but these drug companies”. As for current programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, Griswold stated that he would not change them, and would veto any bill that would take them away. Griswold hopes that the free market would eventually make these programs “functionally obsolete”, but would not attempt to remove these programs until that happens.


Griswold then clarifies his stance on climate change. The mayor stated that it does not matter if humans are the leading cause or not – climate change is real, and Kansas will greatly suffer. Those who would be impacted the most would be Kansas farmers who depend on seasonal weather for their incomes, therefore it is imperative to halt the progression of climate change. Griswold asserted that his administration would want to “massively expedite” the process for introducing new energy companies into the state of Kansas. According to Griswold, “Kansas should have cheapest and cleanest energy in the region and we don’t”. Investing in clean energy is simply common sense.


When asked about criminal justice reform, Mayor Griswold emphasizes better training and demilitarization as an essential starting point. The mayor denounced departments that are allowed to buy military grade weapons, and stated that training is the best way to protect both our citizens and our law enforcement officers, especially in areas with higher crime. Another aspect of reform that Griswold is passionate about is the abolishment of private prisons, because in principle, no one should be profiting off of incarceration – “we should not have the largest incarcerated population in the land of the free, the rates shouldn’t exist”. That’s why the mayor seeks to end the privatization of the prison system, and make sure that incarcerated populations are protected and rehabilitated.


Lastly, Mayor Griswold, turns to one of the biggest issues in his campaign – education. The mayor argues that private schools directly harm public schools because a lot of teacher are overqualified and have frozen pay scales. Under the Sunflower party, public schools have had to make drastic budget cuts, while tax credits and vouchers have been given to parents of private school students. To Griswold, this is unacceptable because “no dollars should be given to private schools, public schools are the most important place for money to go”. Additionally, funding should be increased because education is what sets our children, the future of our state, up for success. It is a failing and a detriment to favor private school students over public school students, especially when private school is unobtainable for the majority of Kansas families. The bottom line is that funding must be increased for public schools in order to provide a quality education for all of our students – it is just common sense.

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Education to Be a Top Priority in Race for Kansas Governor

By: Shelby Otte

March 26th, 2019



In recent years, education is a fundamental value shared by most Kansas. In recent years, it has been propelled to the forefront of Kansas politics. Slashes to education funding for public schools and a lack of prioritization when it comes to our educators have made Kansas schools and our students one of the key issues for the upcoming race for Governor.


Last June, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the state has until June 30, 2019 to provide an increase in funding for Kansas schools in order to insure public school students and their educators have the resources necessary for a quality education. As stated in the official party platform, the Free State party has taken a strong stance on committing to making education funding for public schools the most important issue to the party, valuing quality education and quality educators for all students. The platform has emphasized what it calls a “well-educated and well-trained workforce” in order to bolster the state’s economy and provide exemplary public education.


 Budget cuts to colleges have had particularly strong effects on college students, with tuition rising continuously in order to compensate for reductions in college resources, leaving students frightened for their financial futures. The Lawrence Journal World reported that $20 million in funding was cut from the University of Kansas alone in June 2018 for the 2019 fiscal year. It is highly import to discuss funding for public higher education institutions in order to provide students with a secure future with a price tag that does not deter them from going to college.


Jack Griswold announced this morning that he has filed paperwork to form an exploratory committee, the critical first step in gearing up for a shot at becoming the next Governor of Kansas. Griswold, current mayor of Lawrence and former public defender, stated in his campaign’s first press release that one of his top priorities would be education. Griswold has pushed for an increase in funding for public schools during his time as Mayor of Lawrence, and is eager to use his experience to bring funding to the state’s public schools if elected as governor of Kansas. Griswold’s campaign is the first to form an exploratory committee.

Candidates in Race for Governor Sound Off On Education

By: Shelby Otte

April 2nd, 2019


On March 28th, four campaigns held their first press conferences in the race for Kansas governor. Senator Sebastian Uriarte and prosecutor Isabella Southwick will face off in the Sunflower Party primary, and Senator Brandon Boyce will face Mayor Jack Griswold in the Free State Party primary. All four campaigns launched their announcement videos, as well as held press conferences to mark their entry into the race.

Gabe Mullen, Communications Director for the Uriarte campaign, took questions relating to the Sunflower Party’s stance on education. While Mullen pointed out that funding for public schools is important, the campaign believes in tax credits for wealthy parents who want their children to attend private schools. Additionally, Mullen stated that because of the tax credits, more people would want their children to attend private schools and less funding for public school would be needed.

Isabella Southwick’s campaign takes a similar stance, coinciding with the Sunflower Party platform. Josh Hughes, Communications Director for the Southwick campaign, stated in the campaign’s first press conference that Southwick supports autonomy for parents in regards to education, believing that choice is a key component to a well-educated society. However, when private schools are prioritized over public schools, choice is eliminated for working families and public school students will suffer as a result.

Garrett Miller, Communications Director for the Boyce campaign, took a firm stance on strengthening our public school system. While the Boyce campaign does not denounce the choice between private and public schools, Miller stated that it is imperative to make sure public schools are not devalued by a reallocation of funding towards private schools. Seeing as Kansans pay taxes for our education system, Miller asserts that the system should be adequate and successful for our students.

Mayor Jack Griswold’s campaign emphasized a need for common sense in their press release. Communications Director Anil Bhandari stressed that taxpayer dollars should not be going to private education institutions, and that the quality of our public schools should be a top priority -- especially the quality of our public school teachers. In regards to post-secondary education, Bhandari highlighted the importance of trade schools and lowering tuition costs. Additionally, Bhandari stated that the campaign seeks to look at the state’s current tax bill to redistribute funding to state colleges that would halt the continuous rise in tuition.

The Free State Bulletin Endorses Mayor Jack Griswold

By: Shelby Otte

May 5th, 2019


The primary election results for both the Free State party and Sunflower party were announced Thursday morning. Mayor Jack Griswold will advance to the general election after defeating fellow Free State party candidate Brandon Boyce. Griswold will face Sunflower party candidate Isabella Southwick in the general election.


It is clear that Jack Griswold is the only candidate in the race for governor who will work to uplift our public schools, restructure our criminal justice system, and bring economic success to the state of Kansas. Griswold’s fiery personality and energetic campaign have shown that he won’t back down from his strong stances on education, criminal justice reform, and healthcare ideals. Additionally, the citizens of Kansas can be confident that if elected, Griswold will be an accountable, transparent governor who will fight for the everyday people of Kansas, not corporations or special interests. As Griswold stated in the latest Free State debate, he owes nothing to outside organizations or big donors since his campaign has adamantly refused any PAC money since the beginning of the election cycle. He is dedicated to remaining open and honest about his past and about is future plans for the state.


While the Sunflower party has been in control of our state, the most vulnerable populations within Kansas have been left behind and deprioritized. Jack Griswold is the candidate who will put Kanas back on track and amplify the voices of our state that have been stifled by the Sunflower party. By implementing Griswold’s proposed plan of moving taxpayer dollars from private institutions to public schools, our children will be given the resources they need to succeed, and our teachers will be given the salaries they deserve. By prioritizing these public institutions, education in Kansas will continue to thrive, and the future generations of Kansas will benefit as a result.


Without a doubt, Mayor Jack Griswold will help preserve the greatness of our state, and bring Kansas to new heights of success. In the Kansas gubernatorial race, a vote for Jack Griswold is purely common sense.