Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Fundraise: Members in Competitive Re-Election Bids

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Fundraise: Members in Competitive Re-Election Bids

Article excerpt

A former Kansas governor and federal cabinet secretary is stepping into Topeka school politics this week -- hosting a fundraiser for school board members in an effort to solicit donations of up to $250 per person.

Kathleen Sebelius -- the former U.S. health and human services secretary under President Barack Obama and Kansas' governor from 2003-09 -- will host a fundraiser on Wednesday at the home of Topeka Democratic Sen. Laura Kelly for Topeka Unified School District 501 board members Patrick Woods and Peg McCarthy. The decision by Sebelius, a Democrat, to fundraise for the board members comes as each are engaged in competitive re-election bids this spring.

Woods, a Westar Energy employee who works in the company's human resources department, faces Michael Boyer, a retired Topeka West High School teacher, and Lloyd Fleming, a retired Midway Wholesale executive who volunteers at Bishop Elementary. Woods has previously served as the board's president.

McCarthy, the board's current vice president, works as a psychologist. Scott Holloman, a certified public accountant at Driver and Holloman, is seeking her seat.

According to an invitation, Sebelius asks invitees to join her at Kelly's home from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in supporting Woods and McCarthy in their re-election campaigns. Three donation levels are listed: a $250 "sponsor" level, a $100 "supporter" level, and a $50 "friend" level.

Woods and Sebelius have a connection that dates back at least a decade. Woods served as an education policy advisor and legislative liaison in the Sebelius administration, beginning in 2005 through 2007. He then served as director of government affairs at the agency now known as the Department for Children and Families until early 2011.

And McCarthy said she has been neighbors with Sebelius.

"The deal is, we have personal relationships with those individuals," McCarthy said.

McCarthy and Woods rejected the idea fundraising could indicate a desire for higher office.

"I can say for myself, absolutely not," McCarthy said.

A copy of the invitation from Sebelius, along with a short message, is posted on Woods' campaign Facebook page. …

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