Electoral campaigns don’t often address adaptive challenges, those tough problems that defy easy solutions, very well. Adaptive challenges are complex and messy. Working on them requires better understanding the breadth of perspectives and values at play on an issue. When people are busy and attention spans are short, it’s much easier for candidates to speak to emotion, instinct and political loyalties than hash out the nuances of an issue.

But if Kansas and its communities are going to become healthier and more prosperous, the state is going to have to start finding ways forward on adaptive challenges more often. And to do so, it needs elected officials capable of addressing the state’s most intractable issues in thoughtful, strategic ways, regardless of party or political ideology.

For its 2018 election coverage, The Journal has chosen to focus less on candidates and more on 10 of the key issues the winners will face when they take office. These aren’t the only issues we could have chosen, but they are all ones that have been relevant to the state’s policy debates and discussions over the year. We present this series in hopes that Kansans and the candidates who hope to serve them will devote more of their energy to tackling adaptive challenges this campaign season.

Health and Medicaid Expansion: How do we allow for good community health care in a challenging environment?

Immigration: How do we find a way forward?

State workers: What kinds of support should we provide to the state workers that serve us?

Small business: How do we keep small business from being taxef and regulated to death?

Infrastructure: How do we maintain and expand transportation infrastructure in the midst of fiscal stress?

Child Welfare: How do we protect vulnerable children from harm?

Educational attainment: How do we make higher education more accessible to more students?

Education and teacher pay: How do we make teaching public schools a profession worth staying in?

Talent Retention: How do we retain our most talented high school graduates?

Mental Health: How do we create a mental health system that functions well?

A version of this article was originally published in the Fall 2018 issue of The Journal, a publication of the Kansas Leadership Center. To learn more about KLC, visit http://kansasleadershipcenter.org. For a subscription to the printed edition of The Journal, visit klcjr.nl/amzsubscribe.

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