A panel of judges changed the boundaries of the Kansas House and Senate districts, and in the August primary and November general elections, voters seemed ready for a change in who speaks for them in Topeka. In the House of Representatives, 49 of 125 members are freshmen, in the Senate, 16 of 40.
Marshall Christmann is one of the newcomers. He represents House District 113, which includes all of Pratt and Stafford counties and parts of Barton, Pawnee and Rice counties, including Lyons, which he calls home. He graduated from high school in Hawaii, and received an associate's degree in pre-law from Hutchinson Community College. He is currently a junior at Fort Hays State University, pursuing a bachelor's degree in political science.
He is the founder, president and chief negotiator for Local 278c at the North American Salt Company in Lyons and was a municipal judge for the city of Lorraine for five years before his candidacy forced his resignation. He and wife Elizabeth have three sons.
As a part of his preparation for the legislature, he participated in and graduated from the Kansas Leadership Center, along with 26 other new legislators.
"During class breaks, just to be able to go out in the halls to hear and participate in all of the new ideas of how to help Kansas prosper being bounced off other newly-elected representatives was just exhilarating," Christmann said. "There is a strong sense of wanting to help in this new freshman class of legislators and I am lucky enough to join my voice to that fold.
"Overall I believe Kansas will be unequivocally well represented. There are a lot of freshmen that want to prove themselves to their constituents and I think the energy levels alone in the Capital, with all of this new blood will keep the house humming well into those late night sessions."
Christmann is not unfamiliar with the work of a legislator, having served as an intern for Senator David Haley of Kansas City during the 2012 session. His duties included composing bill briefs, writing constituent correspondence and press releases, aiding constituents in casework, negotiating with state agencies, tracking legislation, developing policy proposals and researching issues.
"I do not see how it is possible to spend time with Senator Haley and not grow as a person," Christmann said. "He is an impressive orator and wordsmith. He taught me to keep plugging away for your district, no matter how many roadblocks are placed in your path."
Christmann is a member of the judiciary committee, where he will be able to call on his experience as a municipal judge.
He will also serve on the energy and environment committee, which he believes is a good fit, given his practical firsthand insight into the industrial world. He is particularly interested in the ethanol plants on the outskirts of both Lyons and Pratt.
Page 2 of 2 - "I think fostering the ethanol industry and wind industry in the 113th district will have a direct and substantially positive impact on our district," he said.
A third committee assignment is health and human services.
"The medical community has been very near to my heart. Other than a long family lineage of military service, the other predominant field in my family's lineage has been of a medical upbringing," he said, noting that his great-grandfather Christmann was a doctor in Pratt for many decades.
Christmann expects the biggest issue during the term will be budget cuts.
"Six years as a labor negotiator has taught me not to go into a negotiation without genuinely listening to all sides," he said. "In doing so, sometimes avenues of mediated middle ground open up where you least expected it."
E: marshall.christmann @house.ks.gov