Both men had come to file as Republican candidates to succeed Don Dahl as the state representative for the 70th District.
Neither man knew beforehand of the other’s intention to run.
“I think both of us were kind of shocked,” said Hannaford, president of Hannaford Abstract & Title Co. “But it’s a democracy, it’s a citizens’ legislature.”
Brookens, a partner in the Brookens & Collett law firm, told Hannaford as a joke that “I’d be glad to spare him the bother of filing, but he said he’d go ahead and file anyway.”
Their deadline-day decision expanded the field of candidates to three.
William “Bill” Spangler, a retired scientist from Burns, had filed prior to Dahl’s decision not to seek a seventh term.
Spangler, 70, is a native of Burns, but worked in the fields of microbiology, biochemistry, toxicology and molecular biology on the West and East coasts for 30 years, and 10 years at the Midwest Institute in Kansas City.
He continues to work part-time from his home, reviewing pesticide toxicology for the government.
Spangler returned to Burns to retire eight years ago when he was able to buy back his parents’ property after it had been sold to another party. He is currently building a new house on the property.
Spangler has two adult daughters living in Maryland and is engaged to be married this summer.
“I served on the school board in Peabody-Burns for four years, then didn’t run for a second term because they were encouraging me during that time to run for Don Dahl’s seat when I got off the school board,” Spangler said of his political experience to this point.
“That’s what I decided to do because I think I can make a contribution to education.”
Specifically, Spangler said he’d like to see the teacher-tenure rules reformed.
“The schools have been told to improve curriculum, get the scores up, and strengthen their math programs,” he said. “But in many cases we don’t have the teachers to do it, and some of the teachers we have, unfortunately, won’t upgrade their education sufficiently to meet the needs of the students.
“But they have tenure, so you can’t make them do it and you can’t get rid of them either.”
Spangler said he’s always wanted to give something back to the taxpayers who helped pay for his own education years ago.
“I feel I owe something, and I’d like to better the educational system in Kansas if I can.”
Robert “Bob” Brookens, meanwhile, began his professional career in education before deciding to go into law. He moved to Marion to open his first law practice after graduating from Washburn Law School.
He said he had toyed with the notion for several years of running for the 70th District seat, but likely wouldn’t file as long as Dahl intended to continue.
“I didn’t find out until Monday (June 9) that he wasn’t going to run,” Brookens said. “I checked with some other Republicans if anyone else had filed (besides Spangler). They said they weren’t aware of anyone else.”
Brookens described himself as a moderate in the state’s Republican Party, but said he is leery of labels because positions on issues don’t always fall neatly into one camp or the other.
Brookens said he wouldn’t go to Topeka with a particular axe to grind and is not anti-government. As an educator and attorney, he said he has learned to listen to all sides of an issue with an open mind before deciding his position. Once determined, he added, he’s not afraid to defend it.
Brookens, 58, and wife Anita have four sons college age and older.
Roger Hannaford III, meanwhile, said, “My candidacy gives voters a clear choice to represent our traditional pro-family values and beliefs.
“Improving our communities and our state starts with well-paying jobs,” he added. “As an owner of a small business, I understand what it takes to meet a payroll and the challenges of providing affordable health care.
“I will work hard to attract more businesses to our communities so that we can provide those well-paying jobs and continue to grow.”
Hannaford, 53, grandson of former 70th district representative Lawrence Slocombe of Peabody, said he also will focus on agriculture issues and to properly fund Kansas schools.
Dahl, who contacted Hannaford about running for his seat, has formally endorsed him as his successor.
“I’ve known Roger for a long time,” Dahl said. “He’s a principled leader with a wealth of experience in running a family business. His experience, involvement in the community and understanding of local and state issues would be a valuable asset for Kansans. I’m hopeful Roger will have a chance to prove that.”
Hannaford, 53, and wife Sally have three children and one grandson.