Garden City teacher Jimmy Beard, a Democrat, said public education, responsible taxation and legalizing marijuana are among his top priorities should he be elected to represent Kansas’ 1st Congressional District. (Noah Taborda/Kansas Reflector)
TOPEKA — Garden City teacher Jimmy Beard, a Democrat, filed paperwork Wednesday entering the August primary for the 1st Congressional District with hopes of defeating incumbent U.S. Rep. Tracey Mann in the general election.
Beard, a math teacher at Garden City High School, cited constant attacks on public education as a primary reason he felt the need to throw his hat in the ring. He said it was time for Congress to act in support of public education, rather than serve as obstructionists.
“We struggle passing any popular bipartisan measure because most representatives in either party are just party line,” Beard said. “I want to go to office to actually get something done and to work with people I disagree with.”
He is the first Democrat to file for the 1st Congressional District race in 2022. Beard will have his hands full in the so-called Big First, which reaches from the Colorado border to Lawrence under newly confirmed congressional maps.
While the inclusion of heavily liberal Lawrence will provide a stronger base for a Democratic candidate, the district has leaned strongly in favor of Republican candidates in the past, with Mann winning 71.2% of the vote in 2020. The district’s size may be daunting, but Beard said he will tackle obstacles as they come up.
“We’re the seventh biggest in the country, so it’s going to be tough,” Beard said. “I am not sure what my game plan is right now. It’s kind of a moving target.”
Raised in a military family, Beard moved to Kansas in 2009 to get his bachelor’s degree in Math Education from Fort Hays State University. Since graduating, he has held his post at Garden City High School, where he became a sponsor of the Gay-Straight Alliance and worked with GLSEN and other local organizations on issues of importance to LGBTQ youth and community members.
Beyond education, Beard is focusing on taxes and infrastructure, as well as legalizing marijuana. He wants to take steps toward fiscal responsibility and putting more money and health resources in the hands of Kansans.
“Oftentimes, what Kansans want doesn’t really line up with just Democrats or just Republicans,” Beard said. “I am confident I can bring Kansas values to Congress and actually work with both sides of the aisle.”
Mann’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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