Candidate is one of Goessel’s own
Kansas Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer, 65, is running for governor. He hopes to bring the same fiscal discipline to the state that he has done in the insurance office the past four years.
Selzer was born in Goessel and lived on a farm near the western boundary of Marion County. He attended Goessel schools, graduating in 1971 from Goessel High School.
His mother, Lois Selzer, served on the school board for eight years, and his father, Merle Selzer, served on the Menno Township board for more than 15 years.
His father also was a brick mason and did a lot of brickwork on the Tabor College campus in the 1960s and ’70s.
Selzer was the second of seven children and the first in his generation to graduate from college.
Selzer graduated cum laude from Kansas State University, earning a degree in accounting. He became a certified public accountant in Kansas City and then earned a master’s in business administration from the University of Southern California.
“Because Goessel High School gave me a $250 scholarship, I was able to stay in school that first year,” he said.
He and his wife, Deb, are passing it on to future generations by providing scholarships to Goessel graduates who show promise and have financial need.
“We’re doing it because Goessel High School clearly made a difference in my life,” he said.
They also provide scholarships for graduates at his wife’s high school in Louisburg.
They have part ownership in her mother’s 750-acre farm, which produces soybeans and hay and grows steers on pasture.
After a successful career in the insurance business in Kansas, Selzer ran for Kansas Insurance Commissioner in 2014, won a crowded primary, and won the general election by 21 points.
“I brought a business background to state government,” he said. “I reduced costs and improved productivity and customer service.”
He reduced the number of employees by focusing on essential services and asked remaining employees to do more. He hopes to do the same as governor.
Selzer said the current governor and secretary of state have side businesses, so they can’t devote their whole time to the business of governing.
“I have an ag background, married someone who grew up on a farm, and we own a farm,” he said. “I will be a champion for agriculture and industry.”
If he were elected, he would make Kansas grow by stressing accountability and leaning in on costs, “so taxpayers know their dollars are being used productively,” he said.
His running mate is Jenifer Sanderson, a small business owner from Goodland.
Ken and Deb have two daughters and one grandchild.