TOPEKA – Ponka-We Victors of Wichita essentially became the next state representative in the 103rd District in north Wichita on Thursday, replacing Rep. Delia Garcia as the sole candidate for the seat shortly before the filing deadline.
Both women are Democrats. Garcia, 33, said she was leaving to take a new position in politics but would not say what that is. She was first elected to the 103rd District in 2004.
Victors, 28, has worked as Garcia’s campaign manager in previous elections and holds a master’s degree in public administration from Wichita State University and a bachelor’s in biology from Newman University.
The two made the last minute switch Thursday shortly before the noon filling deadline for candidates wishing to appear on the Aug. 3 primary ballot.
Victors said access to health care is a major concern for her.
“Growing up in the 103rd District, I’ve always seen a need for health care,” she said.
Her only access to health care growing up was at an Indian Health Services hospital four hours away, she said. She is affiliated with the Ponca Tribe and Tohono-O’odham Nation. So if she got an earache, which she did frequently, she had to endure a painful four-hour ride to the clinic.
“I want to sit at the table to help implement what was just passed on the federal level,” she said.
As far as she knows, Victors said she would be the first Native American woman to serve in the Kansas statehouse.
Victors said she had sat on Garcia’s campaign committees for the last five years and had also been a Native American congressional intern. She said she was looking forward to listening to her constituents.
Garcia said that when she first joined the Legislature, more experienced lawmakers mentored her and she hoped to do that for her successor.
“She has been working with me on the last three campaigns, so she is definitely the right pick,” she said.
Garcia said she would maintain a connection with the statehouse through Victors.
The last time a Republican ran in the 103rd District in 1998 against former state Rep. Thomas Klein, a Democrat. Klein won 57 percent of the vote in a three-way race.