35th District candidates seek election

Two Democrats and two Republicans are seeking election in the Aug. 2 primary election for the 35th District, Kansas House.

Incumbent Rep. Broderick Henderson, who has served in the district since 1995, is not running for re-election.

Running for the Democratic nomination are Nelson R. Gabriel and Marvin S. Robinson II.

Seeking the Republican nomination are John H. Koerner and Sam Stillwell.

Democratic candidates

Nelson Gabriel

Nelson R. Gabriel is running for the Democratic nomination for the 35th District, Kansas House.

Gabriel said the northeast area of Kansas City, Kansas, is probably the most underrepresented area of Wyandotte County. For the past 20 years there has been no real economic development, he believes.

Gabriel said his top issue is Medicaid expansion.

“A lot of people in our area have mental health issues that they can’t get treated because they don’t have access to health care,” Gabriel said. Medicaid expansion should help with that, he added.

Besides Medicaid expansion, he favors additional funding for adult basic education, he said.

“I thought I could lend my voice to helping with this affordable housing piece,” he said.

“In our district, about 46 percent of 66101 and 66102 residents do not have a high school diploma,” Gabriel said. Workforce efforts need to be expanded, and education is a way to do that, he said. While almost 7,000 jobs are available in Wyandotte County, much of the workforce is not trained and does not have the skill sets to fill those positions, he added.

If elected, Gabriel said he would like to communicate more with constituents, including holding town hall meetings.

Gabriel previously ran for the House 35th District.

He is president and CEO of Made Men, a workforce education organization in Kansas City, Kansas, that helps people get their GEDs and high school diplomas and connects them with jobs, food and rental housing. He has his GED and has attended classes at Donnelly College.

Gabriel is active in his church and also is a member of the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Marvin Robinson II

Marvin S. Robinson II is known for his efforts to preserve the Quindaro Ruins and townsite in the northeast area of Kansas City, Kansas.

He is an independent volunteer researcher.

Robinson was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy, where he served as an operations specialist.

He attended Sumner High School, Emporia State University and the U.S. Naval Training Command School at Great Lakes, Illinois, where he received certification as an operations specialist. He also has done course work at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Robinson was co-organizer of a Black Think Farm on the Quindaro Ruins and Underground Railroad. He has devoted many years to environmental justice and historic preservation restoration attempts.

If elected, he would like to see the state formally invite the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Veterans Archaeological Project, to come in and begin preservation of the foundations of the Quindaro Ruins townsite, providing opportunities to veterans of the area.

He also supports flood control state-of-the-art implementations for the Quindaro area. In addition, he supports implementation of a drone imaging system at the Quindaro Ruins that would identify what lies below the surface of the land.

If elected, he would support getting assistance from Kansas for preservation of African-American burial grounds, he said. Legislation has passed in the U.S. Senate for this effort. This project would help identify veterans who are buried there without any gravemarkers or headstones, according to Robinson.

Robinson also stated that he supports more services for veterans, including more assistance with paperwork for benefits. He is aware of a new veterans facility by the Legends, but all veterans’ needs cannot be resolved by it.

He also supports updates and modifications to the Kansas African American Advisory Commission to expand its reach.

In addition, he supports more jobs and job creation, expanding entrepreneurship platforms, with diversity, equity and inclusion.

Robinson stated his background in the Navy has given him skills such as team building. He said his family history includes many members who served in the military since the American Revolution.

Robinson has been endorsed by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. He also is active in his church, and was introduced at a summer convocation.

Republican candidates

Running for the Republican nomination for 35th District are Sam Stillwell and John H. Koerner.

Sam Stillwell

Stillwell, 53, has 23 years experience as a teacher. He received his diploma from Lincoln Academy, a Bachelor of Science in political science from Ottawa University and a Master of Arts and Teaching from Park University.

Stillwell is a member of the National Rifle Association and the Wyandotte County Republican Party.

“I want to be a stronger voice for the citizens of District 35,” Stillwell stated. “As Wyandotte County develops, District 35 remains undeveloped and overlooked. The Northeast of KC, Ks is a strong, historical community that has much to offer the great state of Kansas. I will be their voice in Topeka.”

Stillwell’s top three issues:
“I would lower taxes for Kansans. I would promote economic prosperity throughout the state, but especially in District 35. I would work with the state board of education to address issues keeping our kids from getting as proper education.”

Stillwell previously ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate, 4th District.

John Koerner, 50, said one of his reasons in running for office is to bridge the gap between the two parties.

“I believe that a representative needs to be a civil servant,” he said. He explained the representative needs to be a servant of the people and bring morality back to the government.

“With inflation as high as it is, we need to get rid of the taxation on food products, so that we can help relieve some of the stress on families for putting food on their table,” he said.

Koerner has not run for office before. He said he has always been kind of an independent, voting for the best candidate from the different parties, and he likes some of the Libertarian views.

Koerner, who was born in the Topeka area and grew up in the Big Springs area, has some college and has gone through classes as a member of the U.S. Army Reserves. He worked on maintenance of Chinook helicopters with the Reserves. As a civilian, he drives a flatbed tractor-trailer. He has lived in the Kansas City area about 15 years.

Koerner also said he supports term limits for Congress.

He is doing a grassroots campaign and not taking campaign donations, he added.

Voting details

Early voting in person is currently taking place in Wyandotte County.


Voting on Election Day, Aug. 2, is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at assigned polling places. Mail-in ballots also are available until Tuesday, July 26.

For more information about voting, see http://www.wyandottedaily.com/early-voting-in-person-starts-saturday/.

Visit the Wyandotte County Election Office website at wycovotes.org or call 913-573-8500 for more details on times and places to vote.

To see an updated map of Kansas House seat boundaries in Wyandotte County, and determine what district you are in, visit https://www.wycokck.org/files/assets/public/election-office/kshouseofrep24x36clip.pdf. Some boundaries recently changed.

To reach Mary Rupert, editor, email maryr@wyandottedaily.com.

2 thoughts on “35th District candidates seek election”

  1. Thank you to the Wyandotte Daily for a very nice article about the 35th District Kansas State House of Representatives election. I made the mistake of communicating that the church had ENDORSED me, however – based on guidelines and regulations, they could not:
    However on Sunday afternoon at the Kansas East Church of God In Christ 24 July 2022 I was Introduced at the SUMMER CONVOCATION at Miracle Temple at 22nd & Quindaro Blvd. as a lifelong member of the Church of God In Christ and a descendant of one of the original co-founders of the Church of God in Christ and the former Sunday School Literature Publishing Co. I had made that mistake in the SURVEY to the Wyandotte Daily about the term “Endorsement”, so apologies to each and every oNe: about that incorrect term. HOWEVER, just as GRATEFUL to be “INTRODUCED” during the CLOSING Ceremony Service of the annual SUMMER CONVOCATION….
    And massive appreciation to people all over our COUNTY, State, Greater Kansas City and nationwide, for allowing your own Individual care, interest and kindness of helping to protect the QUINDARO Underground Railroad from blocking the TOXIC WASTE DUMP to becoming a hopeful professionally well preserved INTERNATIONAL Archaeological Cultural Heritage Tourism destination and URBAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL LABORATORY to study and take this site at QUINDARO into generations and centuries of AMERICAN CITIZENS , yet unborn.
    Marvin S. Robinson II
    Navy Veteran- Operations Specialist “O.I. Division”

  2. Marvin Robinson is the RAREST of candidates in this state. The 35th
    Districts residents DESERVES a person who truly believes in ethical governing, honesty and truthfulness. GO MARVIN

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