Retiring principal to challenge for 39th District House seat
A retiring high school principal who lost a 2008 election for the Kansas House of Representatives is putting his hat in the ring again.
Joe Novak, Shawnee, has announced his candidacy for the 39th District House seat. The 39th District covers western Wyandotte County, northwestern Johnson County and eastern Leavenworth, including Bonner and Basehor.
Novak, who is retiring this summer after 10 years as principal of Mill Valley High School in De Soto USD 232, immediately drew a contrast between himself and the likely Republican nominee, incumbent State Rep. Owen Donohoe.
“The 2010 budget crisis hit our community hard,” Novak said in a news release announcing his candidacy. “Fortunately, we were saved from a seventh round of devastating cuts to schools and services, but with no thanks to our current representative. We need someone in Topeka who ranks his constituents above partisan rhetoric and political gain.”
In the 2008 election, Donohoe defeated Novak, 8,061 to 7,657 votes. Donohoe has represented the district since 2007.
Novak has lived in Shawnee for more than 20 years. He spent his professional career in public education, working as a teacher, coach and school administrator for the last 35 years. He holds a bachelor of arts in education, a master of arts in exercise physiology and education from Michigan State University and a doctorate in educational administration from Kansas State University. He also teaches a postgraduate class in finance resource management at Kansas University. In 2000, he published a book, "Maxercising Your Greatest Potential.”
Novak has served as co-chair for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, served on the steering committee for the western Shawnee Bike Safety Rodeo and has served as the treasurer for the Kaw Valley League for the past 19 years. Novak has worked with Oceans of Mercy, Run for Mercy and continues to champion and foster relationships between the community and the schools in western Shawnee. He was the Region VI Executive Board member for the National Association for Student Council. In 2004, Novak took a sabbatical to work as the Education Outreach Director for Freedom's Answer, during which time he worked with15- to 20-year-olds actively engaged in the voting process across the country. He is recipient of an award of excellence from the Kansas Association for Gifted Education. Most recently, Novak was presented the 2010 Outstanding Service Award by the Shawnee Police Department.
He has gained the endorsement of two public officials.
"As a teacher, mentor and administrator, Joe has worked for over three decades to ensure our schools are accountable and that every child has the opportunity to flourish,” said Gov. Mark Parkinson. “Kansans in the 39th District deserve this kind of leadership and commitment in the Legislature."
“I have known Joe for ten years,” said Shawnee Mayor Jeff Meyers. “He demonstrates honesty and truthfulness, commitment, and is a caring individual. As mayor and as an educator myself, I have witnessed the positive impact he has had on our community. He will continue these leadership qualities in Topeka and I endorse his candidacy for the House of Representatives.”
Novak and his wife, Dena, have been married for 25 years. They have three grown children: Whitney, Ted and Carly.