Clay Wirestone

Clay Wirestone

Clay Wirestone serves as Kansas Reflector's opinion editor. His columns have been published in the Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle, along with newspapers and websites across the state and nation. He has written and edited for newsrooms in Kansas, New Hampshire, Florida and Pennsylvania. He has also fact checked politicians, researched for Larry the Cable Guy, and appeared in PolitiFact, Mental Floss, and Before joining the Reflector in summer 2021, Clay spent four years at the nonprofit Kansas Action for Children as communications director. Beyond the written word, he has drawn cartoons, hosted podcasts, designed graphics and moderated debates. Clay graduated from the University of Kansas and lives in Lawrence with his husband and son.

The well called Norman No. 1 was drilled on Nov. 28, 1892, in Neodesha and opened an new era of oil exploration. The site was reconstructed in 1961 and later moved closer to Main Street. (Clay Wirestone/Kansas Reflector)

Once a Kansas petroleum powerhouse, Neodesha now drills down on education and investments

By: - August 22, 2022

When I was a child, Neodesha was the big city. My family and I lived in nearby, even smaller Altoona. The city of Neodesha — population 2,275 — boasted a grocery store, library and a red caboose behind that library. This month, I drove back to Neodesha with my 11-year-old, on a mission to look […]


A year ago, I started a journey as Kansas Reflector opinion editor. Here’s what I’ve learned.

By: - August 18, 2022

A year ago Tuesday, I came aboard the good ship Kansas Reflector as opinion editor. While my first column on the job promised big goals and lofty aspirations, I’ll admit that doubts lingered in the cobwebbed recesses of my mind. Would the work make a difference? Would readers pay attention? Would they and I find […]

Shawnee County election workers tabulate provisional ballots that the county's board of canvassers approved during a meeting Monday morning in Topeka. (Thad Allton for Kansas Reflector)

In wake of amendment loss, anti-abortion Kansans face a choice: Take the L or fight the power

By: - August 16, 2022

Losing hurts the soul. It throws our basic beliefs — in oneself, in the notion of a just world — into turmoil. Ultimately, we choose to do one of two things. We can look at the loss dispassionately, hoping to learn from the experience. Or we can decide that the loss wasn’t, actually, a loss […]

Whimsical carvings decorate trees in Orr Park in Montevallo, Alabama. Opinion editor Clay Wirestone walked the park on his recent visit to the state. (Clay Wirestone/Kansas Reflector)

From spine-tingling tales to faces in the trees, Alabama trip puts Kansas in perspective

By: - August 10, 2022

I was driving along an Alabama backroad with my mother-in-law, hearing about various Southern Gothic deaths that had befallen residents of her neighborhood, when I realized something simple yet important: This country is vast. The contiguous United States stretches more than 2,500 miles from coast to coast. Our 50 states go from sapphire blue to […]

Attendees of the Kansans for Constitutional Freedom watch party celebrate after primary election results verify Kansans voted to keep abortion a constitutional right on Tuesday. (Lily O'Shea Becker/Kansas Reflector)

These four dumb responses totally misread the stunning Kansas abortion rights vote

By: - August 8, 2022

You could tell that no one was prepared for the nearly 20-point victory by abortion rights forces in Kansas by the incredibly dumb takes that soon followed. Anti-abortion supporters, insulated by the U.S. Supreme Court over the past half-century from the unpopularity of their beliefs, were faced with a broad public rebuke. This wasn’t a […]

U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, right, embraced Kansas Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes at an Aug. 2 primary election watch party in Overland Park. Davids won reelection to a third term Tuesday by defeating Republican Amanda Adkins. (Lily O'Shea Becker for the Kansas Reflector)

Abortion-rights victory shakes Kansas political landscape from roots to branches

By: - August 3, 2022

The failure of the anti-abortion amendment in Kansas on Tuesday was more than a single election result. It was an earthquake. That quake rumbled across the U.S. political landscape, surprising onlookers who had expected a tight contest or outright victory for anti-choice forces. All of a sudden, the rough political consensus that had formed since […]

Signs for and against the state constitutional amendment have become a common sight throughout Kansas this summer. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

Kansans embark on statewide civics experiment of abortion amendment vote, outcome unknown

By: - August 2, 2022

The abortion amendment battle comes to a head this August election day, and if nothing else it proves that civic debate thrives in Kansas. TV ads burble, yard signs protrude and glossy fliers stuff mailboxes from one side of the state to the other. Online forums buzz with the back and forth. Folks chat in […]

As a Kansas abortion amendment is debated, lies about what it does and doesn't do are obscuring commonsense debate on the topic. (Getty Images)

In Kansas abortion amendment debate, three big lies prevent honest exchanges

By: - July 25, 2022

For a group of people presumably interested in the guidance of the Lord Almighty, backers of the “Value Them Both” amendment have a lot of problems with the Ninth Commandment. They’re lying an awful lot. The state constitutional amendment on the ballot Aug. 2 has been debated ad nauseam in recent months. It would preempt […]

Supporters of women's reproductive rights gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court on May 3, 2022, in protest of a leaked draft ruling that shows the court plans to overturn Roe v. Wade. (Jane Norman/States Newsroom)

One simple question Kansas abortion-rights advocates could ask their opponents

By: - July 18, 2022

Should a 10-year-old girl be forced to give birth to her rapist’s baby? If they want to stop a proposed constitutional amendment from passing, Kansas abortion-rights activists should be asking anti-abortion forces that one question each and every day. If they want a message that slices through congealed rhetoric, that’s the one they should deploy ruthlessly […]

Gov. Laura Kelly announces Wednesday in downtown Topeka that Panasonic will build a $4 billion vehicle battery plant in De Soto. The megaproject is expected to employ 4,000 workers with an average wage of $30. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

In rare bipartisan achievement, Kansas leaders dream big to land $4B Panasonic megaproject

By: - July 14, 2022

Sometimes, all you need is a dream, a little luck and a billion dollars. Such was the case with the Panasonic battery plant “megaproject” that Kansas leaders announced Wednesday. Lt. Gov. and Commerce secretary Dave Toland, along with Gov. Laura Kelly and assorted legislative leaders — not to mention U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran in Washington, […]


Derek Schmidt campaign tries to have it both ways on Kansas diversity and fundamental rights

By: - July 13, 2022

Derek Schmidt’s campaign talks out of both sides of its mouth when it comes to diversity. When handling questions about fundamental rights, the presumptive Republican gubernatorial candidate’s operation says different things depending on the audience. Should women have a right to access birth control? Should LGBTQ people have a right to, well, exist? It depends! […]

The U.S. Supreme Court decision raised the importance of an already high-stakes vote in the Aug. 2 Kansas primary on a proposed constitutional amendment that will determine if the right to an abortion will remain in the Kansas constitution. (Noah Taborda/Kansas Reflector)

Summer’s discontents weigh on Kansas mood, political races and long-term outlook

By: - July 11, 2022

Now is the summer of our discontent. The end of Roe v. Wade has shaken the nation. Kansas has been gripped by an amendment vote on just that subject scheduled for next month. Political candidates circle one another like irritable peacocks, knowing that weeks or months of squabbling await. Nationally, inflation has stressed households and […]