State Rep. Tony Brown, D-Baldwin City, reflected on his first weeks at the Statehouse during a day off Monday. This is his first year to serve in the House of Representatives.
Q. What was it like to go into the Capitol and be seated for the first time in the House of Representatives?
A. It was, quite simply, a very thrilling moment, and one that I never imagined I would ever experience. I kept trying to think about the historical context -- who had sat in the House chamber before me and the debates those walls had heard. But in the end, I just focused on trying to say the oath of office correctly.
Q. Has the job been more or less work than you expected?
A. Getting used to the daily routine was more work than I expected -- it reminded me of my early days at Baker. Fortunately, I'm a couple of decades older than I was then, so I think I was able to adjust better. And, of course, the amount of information we receive is simply overwhelming. But we also get a lot of help distilling that information, so we can appear to understand it.
Q. With politics involved, what has been your biggest frustration to this point?
A. The standoff between Gov. Sebelius and the legislative leadership was a low point for me. We are going to have inevitable policy differences on how to balance the budget, but we can't put Kansas citizens in the middle of these negotiations. Our overall goal is to do what's right for the entire state -- I don't think presenting ultimatums on either side helps to achieve that goal.
Q. What has been the biggest surprise you've had by serving in the House?
A. People treat me with much more respect now than I really deserve.
Q. What do you most want to see accomplished in your freshman year in the House?
A. Aside from all the budgetary issues, which have to be resolved, I hope we can maintain state programs that address the daily needs of Kansas citizens. I'm concerned about programs that serve kids and elderly residents and people who have physical or mental challenges. I don't want to get so caught up in fiscal concerns that we forget we are making decisions that affect real people's lives.