Mill Valley’s Novak to run for Kansas House
Mill Valley High School Principal Joe Novak is looking for a new job -- in the Kansas Legislature.
Novak made his announcement last Thursday at a private party at a friend's home in western Shawnee. He is running as a Democrat for the 39th District, which covers parts of western Shawnee, Bonner Springs and Basehor. Owen Donohoe, R-Shawnee, currently represents the 39th District. Donohoe announced he was running for re-election Tuesday afternoon.
As an educator for 33 years, including a stint as principal of De Soto High School, Novak's primary focus is on education.
"I can speak with pretty good passion and compassion on education," he said. "That is my baby. The future of our state and this country is our number one natural resource and that's our kids."
The cost and availability of health care in Kansas also concerned Novak, he said.
"We have to fix this health care mess," he said. "I am going to listen to the people and find out where everyone is on the issue."
Lt. Governor Mark Parkinson preceded Novak's announcement with a few words in his favor.
"With the kind of time, the kind of thought, the kind of energy that we already have with Joe, we could win this seat," he said.
Parkinson notably switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party in 2006 to become Governor Kathleen Sebelius' running mate. He also served as chairman of the Shawnee Area Chamber of Commerce board in 2004.
Novak said he was most concerned about looking toward the state's future.
"We've got to talk about taking care of the next generation in Kansas," he said.
Novak will continue as the principal of Mill Valley High School throughout his run, but he said it wouldn't affect his dedication to his students.
"I have a primary and full responsibility to these kids and this community while I am principal," he said.
If Novak is elected, it is still unclear what will become of his position. The De Soto School Board will have to vote on the outcome, he said.
In the meantime, Novak will be studying things the Kansas Legislature has worked on in the past few years, but not during the school day.
"I do not want to use my resources at school, like technology, for this campaign," he said. "That should be two separate things. If I communicate with the public about running for office it will be after five in the afternoon or on the weekends."