One of my favorite political leaders, former Kansas Governor Joan Finney, passed away recently. She was the first woman to be governor of Kansas. Though she had quite of a career in politics 16 years as Kansas state treasurer, 4 years as governor, Governor Finney believed in the people and always seemed much more comfortable among regular folks than among the state’s political elite.
In 1990, she surprised the entire political establishment by knocking off the incumbent governor in the Democratic primary. Then she bested the Republican in a strong Republican state. When asked why most of the state’s politicians and media didn’t see her upset victory coming, Finney said with her usual candor, “Legislators talk to each other and forget the people. The press, they talk to legislators.”
Joan Finney had a unique commitment to citizen-led government. She was a tireless champion of the initiative rights of citizens: the ability of voters to bypass their servants in the legislature and enact laws or constitutional amendments directly. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to convince enough legislators to go along with her and actually establish that right in Kansas. Joan, a co-chair of the U.S. Term Limits Council, was one of the first political leaders to embrace term limits.
I was lucky to know Joan Finney personally. She was down-to-earth, genuine, not just another plastic politician. She had strong beliefs and she fought for those beliefs. She was a woman of her word and someone who trusted and respected the people. Thanks, Joan. We’ll miss you.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.