Johanna Hecht
KU Statehouse Wire Service
With four children going through K-12 education in the early 2000s, Sen. Tom Holland (D-Baldwin City) and his wife, Barbara Holland, were familiar with the school system. However, both saw concerns with the current structure and wanted to see some changes come about.
So in 2002, Holland began campaigning to be the State Representative of the Kansas House for the 10th district. His main concerns centered on the inadequate education funding, which was causing classroom sizes to be much larger than he deemed appropriate to provide students a proper education.
“I thought ‘what the hay, let’s give this a try,’” said Holland, “So I started walking door-to-door that summer talking to people.”
That November, to Holland’s surprise, he won the seat in the House against Ralph M. Tanner (R-Douglas). He said he didn’t expect to beat someone who already had many years of prior experience in the legislature.
He also ran as a Democrat for the position.
“I used to be a Republican, and based on my policies, I now classify myself as moderate,” Holland said. “I saw changes in the Republican Party that started to make me uncomfortable.”
Holland explains that some of the socially conservative perspectives, as well as religious perspectives, are what caused him to rethink which political party he wanted to be a part of.
Holland has been the Senator of the Kansas Senate for the 3rd district since January 2009. He also serves as the ranking minority member for both the Assessment and Taxation Committee and the Commerce Committee. He deals with more social issues as a member of the Federal and State Affairs Committee.
It was during 2010, however, that he ran for the Governor of Kansas against the current state governor, Sam Brownback.
“I would definitely consider running for governor again. The first time I ran, I was kind of filling a leadership void because no one else was running. The political party at that time was very unfavorable,” Holland said.
President Barack Obama took office in 2009 and, according to Holland, many Kansas Republicans were displeased with Democrats after the presidential election and it impacted state elections.
“I think I would only run again, for higher office, if it seemed favorable and if I even had a small chance,” Holland said. “However, most state-wide races, even though I got clobbered, take a lot of energy out of you.”
Originally from Indianapolis, Holland received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at Indiana University in 1982 and went on to earn his Masters of Business Administration at the University of Minnesota.
However, he was offered a full-ride scholarship to Indiana State University for music.
“Music has been a huge part of my life since elementary school,” he said.
His decision not to pursue the offer was due to his parents wanting to see him go down a different path. But that hasn’t stopped him from still playing music during his free time, specifically the bass guitar.
Holland is glad that he didn’t accept the scholarship, otherwise he wouldn’t have met his wife, who he has been married to since 1981.
In addition to being a legislator and musician, Holland is also an entrepreneur. He serves as the president and owner of a project management company called Holland Technologies, Incorporated.
At the moment, Holland is also working on starting his own winery business.
Edited by Leah Sitz